CEO Sheri Ann Marshall says despite its changes, Austin remains home.
By Sheri Marshall, Photos by Dwain Marshall
I was born and raised in East Austin and grew up in a home with my loving father, Curtis Jackson, mother, Beulah Jackson, and two brothers, Curtis Jr. and Vincent Charles. We were a middle-class family that loved spending time together and summer vacations. Austin was small, friendly and safe. We played outside until the street lights came on, played softball and flag football in the backyard. We played with the neighborhood kids; night or day, we never locked the doors or windows. You could visit your neighbors all day, every day; their parents treated you like their child. Mueller Airport was 5 miles from our house. We used to stand in the yard and watch the planes fly over, so low since the airport was so close. Boy, how things have changed in my hood!
Attending Johnston High School during my junior and senior years, I only had school half of the day. There was a program called Distributive Education that allowed me to work in retail for the second half of the day. I worked as a cashier at some department stores that are no longer in Austin: Foley’s, Joskey’s, Edison’s jewelry store, Spartan and Safeway grocery store. I always said I would own my own business one day.
Background in Finance
My background is layered with finance and accounting, from working in Wurzburg, Germany, as an accounting specialist, to the Department of Veterans Affairs as a pay specialist. I’m currently the financial secretary for the National Council of Negro Women and treasurer for the National Association of Black Accountants.
I am also the CEO and owner of Best Choice Mobile Notary and the loan signing agent at Best Choice Notary Academy, which has become extremely lucrative. Anytime I can train others and give them another stream of income, I have done my duty as an entrepreneur. My ability to help others get their financial start is possible due to my early education at Austin Community College (ACC).
“I knew early on I wanted a job in finance…”
I knew early on I wanted a job in finance and accounting. While attending ACC in 1974 I began to take accounting courses. This landed me my first pay specialist job in the Texas National Guard. In 1979, I graduated from Peay State University with a B.A. in accounting. In 1991, I applied for a job in Anchorage, Alaska, as the supervisor for pay and entitlements for the Air National Guard—Kulis ANGB. Once the Department of Defense notified me, they packed up my household, car and family. Off to Alaska we went. Who knew a 36-month tour would turn into 10 years?
In this position I was able to travel to other bases in Hawaii, Seattle, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado to train other troops. Anchorage became a place I loved! I missed Texas, but there was something about this Texas girl in Alaska. (They used to tell me I had that Southern drawl!) I started my entrepreneur journey in Alaska, with the help of some great people. Alaska really grew on me! I did things outdoors I couldn’t have done in Texas. I cross-country skied, ice bowled, slush ran, bowled on the ANG league and did a lot of fishing.
I chartered a chapter of business and professional women, the Forget Me Nots, with 25 ladies. Yes, we were some badass professional women who got things done! I started out as the president, then became the regional treasurer. When I returned to school at the University of Alaska Anchorage I earned my business administration degree. I started as a notary back in Texas in the ’80s, and I wanted to continue my notary business, so applied for my notary commission in Alaska. I then created Best Choice Mobile Notary.
Best Choice has flourished from Anchorage to Texas. Today, it is a six-figure business. From this success I created The Texas Notary Academy where I actually trained notaries to become loan signing agents. I am also the CEO and Owner of Umoveit WeCleanit Commercial Janitorial. This Texas girl has come a long way!
The Roots are Still There
In 2001, I returned to Austin. It had changed drastically. When I learned how many residents had lost their homes, it was quite disturbing. None of the neighborhoods looked the same. Ranch homes on the East Side were a thing of the past. All the childhood stores, places I used to go to and things I enjoyed doing were no longer there. I remember not only East Austin, but downtown, Woolworth, Bakers shoe store. Though Austin has changed in so many ways, those things will forever be embedded in my memory. Now there are high-rises and two-story homes everywhere.
The feel of the old Austin is gone forever. We have beautiful tall buildings and major corporations here. Most of the people you meet are not from Austin, definitely not unicorns. I remember you could get anywhere in 10 minutes. The traffic now is off the charts; I-35 is such a death trap. Who knew little Austin, Texas, would boom and be named as one of the best cities to live in the whole country?
I am still proud to be an Austinite. I am proud to be an Austin woman. We still have our homestead in East Austin on Bunche Road, where my Mom resides. The city has changed, but the roots are still there.