By Patti Samar
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Patti Manley of St. Clair lives by those words.
Manley, a native of Port Huron, is a certified public accountant who has given tirelessly – and quietly – to the Blue Water Area through her professional, volunteer, and philanthropic efforts.
A partner in McBride-Manley & Co., P.C., Manley has worked with the firm her entire career. “I’ve been here since I got out of college in 1982,” she said. “In 1989, I became a partner. Glen McBride was a great guy; he taught me everything. I have him to thank for that.” McBride died in 2013, but Manley carried on.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I had an accounting class when I was a senior in high school, but I was thinking maybe medicine. Then I took a chemistry class in college and thought, ‘Oh, dear God, no!’” she said with a laugh. “That was so not me. I took an accounting class and never looked back.”
Manley earned her associate degree from St. Clair County Community College before moving on and obtaining her bachelor’s degree from Walsh College.
Throughout her career, Manley has dedicated much of her free time to volunteering for numerous nonprofit organizations, where she has provided professional guidance with regard to financial matters.
She currently serves as the secretary of the board of trustees for the Community Foundation of St. Clair County. She also currently serves as the treasurer of the board of trustees, and as chair of the finance committee, for the United Way of St. Clair County.
She also served for many years on the board of St. John-Providence River District Hospital, as well as on the health system’s regional board.
Manley’s commitment to the community has not gone unnoticed. She has received a number of awards over the years, including recognition from the National Association of Career Women as Career Woman of the Year; from St. John-Providence River District Hospital as Community Leader of the Year; from the United Way of St. Clair County as Volunteer of the Year; and from the State of Michigan as a Small Business Advocate in Accounting.
“I love working with small business owners,” Manley said. “They are gutsy.”
Cancer survivors are also gutsy, and Manley would know. She is an eight year survivor of breast cancer.
“Early detection is important,” she said. “The whole ‘pay attention to your health’ thing is important.” Two weeks following major breast cancer surgery, Manley was on the golf course.
“I wanted to get on with life,” she said. “This is not going to define who I am.”
Manley noted that her family and friends helped her through her cancer crisis and she will never forget their generosity.
“People want to help and you need to let them,” she said. “I’m very blessed in many, many ways. I have been very blessed in my life. I have a very supportive family and a great group of friends.”
If anything, that experience just instilled in her an even greater desire to give back to others.
“I love our little corner of the world here in St. Clair County,” she said. “It’s important to me to make our community a great place to live and work, and, as a result, hopefully, it is a better place when you leave it.
“It’s empowering to be a part of these organizations that help make change. There never will be change if you don’t get involved and try to change it.”