With her bright smile and cheerful personality, Angela Ragan, senior tax manager at Jaynes, Reitmeier Boyd & Therrell, P.C., manages a fast-paced career, three children and a full life of church and community service — and she makes it look easy breezy. Her secret to making everything work? Husband Reginald is supportive of her career and more than happy to go 50-50 on the family and household responsibilities to make life a beautiful Gospel song they sing together on Sundays.
WACOAN: How did you get to Waco?
Ragan: I came to Waco from Karnack, Texas, to attend Baylor where my major was pre-med and accounting.
WACOAN: Did you always want to be an accountant?
Ragan: My original plan was to be a pediatrician and to have the accounting background to run my own practice. But, I loved accounting so much that after I took the [Medical College Admission Test] and prepared to go to medical school, I prayed and asked God if medicine is where he wanted me to be, and I heard the answer clearly: No.
So I was really glad to have my accounting background to fall back on because I realized that’s where God wanted me to be.
WACOAN: You had a sign. So, what happened next?
Ragan: I graduated in 2003 and got a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is one of the Big Four accounting firms in the country. I worked in the Houston office.
WACOAN: What an impressive job to get right out of college!
Ragan: The Baylor accounting program is one of the best. The Big Four recruit heavily out of Baylor and Baylor students want those jobs.
WACOAN: Had you met your husband at this point?
Ragan: I met my husband while I was at Baylor. He didn’t attend Baylor, but he is from Waco. When I moved to Houston — at about the end of the first year — he proposed. We decided we didn’t want to live in the huge city of Houston, so we came back to Waco. I applied at JRBT, and I’ve been here since 2005.
WACOAN: So big city life wasn’t really for you.
Ragan: I’m from a small town in East Texas, near the Louisiana border. It’s tiny. My high school was 1A, and now it’s a 6-man school. I was blessed to get into Baylor because kids from Karnack did not go to Baylor.
WACOAN: How did that happen?
Ragan: I came from a household where my parents made sure that all of their kids went to college, even though my parents didn’t go to college and my dad didn’t graduate from high school.
WACOAN: How many were in your family growing up?
Ragan: I have five siblings — there were six of us in all. My grandmother lived with us as well, so there were nine people living in a very small home. But my parents made sure that — outside of God — education came first. They made sure that if we wanted to go to college, we were able to. And all six kids went to college.
WACOAN: Where did you fall in the siblings?
Ragan: I was the baby. All five went to college before me and graduated, so I had to keep up with them. None of my siblings had gone to a school like Baylor. They all went to state schools.
But I knew for accounting, I wanted to go to a school like Baylor, and my parents did not deny me that. No one from Karnack had ever gone to Baylor, so it was a big deal.
WACOAN: Tell me about your family. What does your husband, Reggie, do? Does he work in numbers, like you?
Ragan: Thank goodness, no! We don’t need two accountants in the family. My husband is a youth counselor at the Methodist Children’s Home. He loves working with youth and at-risk kids.
Before the Methodist Home, he was a juvenile correctional officer. Now, he gets to work with kids, helping them correct their behavior, potentially before they are sent to juvenile. And he’s great with them.
WACOAN: That’s a real gift. Do you have kids?
Ragan: We do. We have a daughter, Olivia, who is almost 11 and in the fifth grade. And we recently adopted two boys who came to us through Child Protective Services. They came to live with us in January of 2016, and the adoption was final in June 2017.
Sebastian is in the second grade now, and D.J., or Dennis, is just starting preschool.
WACOAN: How did you come to adopt the boys?
Ragan: It was definitely a God thing. We weren’t looking for it. We didn’t set out to become foster parents or to adopt children.
My husband has a brother who was sort of estranged from the family, and he led a troubled life. We didn’t have a relationship with him because of the choices he had made. He had children but wasn’t able to care for them, and they were removed from the home by CPS and placed in a group home.
CPS found out that he had a brother out there, my husband, and asked if we would be able to take them in for a few months while it was decided if the parents would be able to keep their children — or what would be best for the children.
WACOAN: Wow, what a story.
Ragan: After praying about it, we heard the call to take them in. Originally, it was going to be a short-term situation, but unfortunately the parents ended up going to jail and we had to make the decision whether to keep them and adopt them or let them go back into the system. We decided to keep them.
They call us mom and dad, and though we’ve been honest about where they came from, they know that they are with us forever, that this is permanent. And no one is coming back to get them.
WACOAN: Tell me how your daughter adjusted to having little brothers.
Ragan: My daughter is 100 percent loveable. She has a huge heart. These two boys came in, and she knew they needed someone to love on them. Her big heart was there to extend that love. She has this heart for people — it’s something that she loves. She likes to be a mama to them, and they call her ‘Sissy.’ She loves to make their lunches, and she likes to put little sweet things in their lunches.
So it was an adjustment at first, but Olivia realized that they didn’t have a home like she had, and she gets a chance to share with them what it means to have parents who love on you in the right way. She became a big sister!
WACOAN: With three kids, what is your morning routine like?
Ragan: On a normal school day, I get up at 5 a.m. My day usually starts with a 15-minute devotional and then about a 15-minute prayer. So, that’s the first 30 minutes of the morning. And then, I take the next 30 minutes to get myself together as much as I can before I get the kids up.
At 6 a.m. my daughter gets up. She sets her own alarm and wakes herself up; we started that early on. Then I wake up the boys to get ready and have breakfast. Meanwhile, my daughter is making lunches. We leave the house about 7:05 [a.m.], and I drop the kids off at school and get to work by 8 [a.m.].
That’s how it goes on the days my husband is at work. On the days he doesn’t work, he does all of that. I just get up and work out and then get myself ready.
WACOAN: So you share the morning responsibilities.
Ragan: My husband is key to my working like I work and being able to have a home life. He is the glue that keeps us all together.
When I’m working overtime, depending on the time of the year, it can be 55-60 hours a week, plus. He’s the person who picks the kids up from school. He gets dinner together, helps with homework. I couldn’t do any of this if I didn’t have the type of husband I have.
WACOAN: And he likes this arrangement?
Ragan: We have a completely 50-50 marriage in sharing the load. He’s still the head of our household, and our faith is strong.
I was brought up to know that the Word says the man is the head of the household and you submit to that. What that means to me is that if we disagree on something, I will let him have the final say. And I never worry about him having the final say because I know he has a heart for God. It’s completely 50-50, and he is 100 percent supportive of my career and what I do at work.
WACOAN: What is your workday like?
Ragan: It’s all business, all day. For most of the year, it’s 8 [a.m.] to 5 [p.m.]. But January through April 15 and August 15 through October 15, it’s more like 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and then Saturdays too.
I come in and check over emails from the night before. You’d be surprised how many emails we receive from 5 p.m. to the next morning. So I respond to clients, and then I make a list of the specific clients I want to work on for that day so I can be as productive as possible.
WACOAN: What exactly do you do for clients?
Ragan: I review returns and consult clients on what they can do to decrease their tax, how they should structure their entity in order to produce the lowest taxes. My job also is to make sure they are compliant and following rules and regulations, filing in a timely manner and paying the least amount possible. I’m looking for ways to reduce tax liability for my clients.
WACOAN: Sounds like a pretty serious workday. What happens if the kids get sick?
Ragan: [The school will] call or text both of us because they know we are both available and want to be informed and involved. My daughter doesn’t really get sick. But one of the boys does have some issues and behavior problems we are working through, and we’ve had to go to the school. They know we are supportive and we want to be in the loop and that we want to support the teachers in every way we can. We want to all be on the same page.
WACOAN: Those boys hit the jackpot on parents, and they don’t even know it.
Ragan: Thank you. Sometimes we feel like we are failing at this. I feel like things should change overnight, and I have to realize they don’t. It takes time, consistency and discipline and eventually we’ll get there.
WACOAN: How do you balance the good days with the tough days?
Ragan: With a lot of prayer. Talking it out with my husband.
There are days where I am not cheerful and don’t feel like smiling, and we just talk through it and work out a plan. We help each other see this is just a bump in the road. We have to stick to our plan, and we have to love each other and the kids through the bad days. We encourage each other. We can’t be down on the same days.
We also have an amazing support system at church.
WACOAN: Where do you go to church?
Ragan: Victorious Life. Our church family has been very supportive, and they have been a community that helps us when we need it. They help us with the boys, they encourage us, they pray for us.
WACOAN: How do weeknights work?
Ragan: My husband does the cooking most nights and some days I bring home [dinner].
WACOAN: What are some of your go-to dinners?
Ragan: Mexican cornbread, which is a great one-dish meal. Jambalaya, red beans and rice. I use the Crock-Pot a lot because you can get it ready before you go to work or quickly when you get home.
WACOAN: When do you find time to grocery shop?
Ragan: H-E-B curbside service has made life so much easier. I use it all the time, even if I am just picking up five items.
It’s hard to grocery shop with three kids. I love that I can lie in bed after the kids go to sleep and do my grocery shopping. Then, I drive up and someone puts it in my car, and I don’t have to get out with three kids. It’s worth the service charge, and I think every working mom should try it.
WACOAN: Agreed – it’s wonderful! What else happens on weeknights?
Ragan: Right now, it’s football season. My daughter plays softball in the spring. We take turns getting them to practices, but usually that’s my husband’s job because he’s very into coaching the kids. I’m just the mom bringing snacks.
On normal nights, the main routine is 7 [p.m.] baths, 8-9 [p.m.] bed, depending on which kid it is. Sticking to our routine on weekdays helps a lot. By 9 o’clock, every kid is in bed. And that’s when I can relax.
WACOAN: What happens at your house when everyone is in bed?
Ragan: By that time, I’m getting ready for bed. I just like to lie there and watch TV until I fall asleep. Netflix and Amazon Prime is my hobby. I love superhero action movies, and I also love old movies. I love BBC Network.
WACOAN: Do you and your husband get a chance to go out just the two of you, or are you just not to that stage yet, with the kids being so young?
Ragan: For the past year, we really have not been in that stage. But my wonderful sister-in-law gave us the most wonderful Christmas gift. She created a date night booklet, where she created monthly passes that even have our pictures on it, and we trade those in for her to watch the kids so we can have a date night once a month. That’s been amazing!
WACOAN: What do you like to do on date night?
Ragan: We like to spend time downtown and go out to eat. Sometimes we’ll even spend the night at the Hilton because we can’t every really get away for too long. We definitely like to eat!
WACOAN: What about weekends? What do Saturday mornings look like for y’all — busy or lazy?
Ragan: A lot of times we have games. We’re doing football and softball about half the year. Other times, they will ‘sleep in’ until about 7:30 [a.m.], then get up, do chores, watch cartoons or play Xbox.
WACOAN: Saturday chores, huh?
Ragan: Yes! Sebastian has to clean his room and vacuum the downstairs. Olivia cleans her room and vacuums the upstairs. She also does the kids’ laundry, and they all help fold their clothes. D.J., my little one, loves to sweep. He takes that broom and sweeps stuff everywhere, but he’s getting into the habit of doing chores so we don’t mind picking up after him. We let him sweep everything he can sweep!
For fun, the kids love Chuck E. Cheese and the zoo or the park. They love to play laser tag at this place in Temple. My husband will take the boys to the church parking lot to practice football drills. Sometimes we have family movie night where we pop popcorn and settle in together.
But on Saturday night, everyone gets to bed early because we have to be at church the next day.
WACOAN: How involved are you with your church?
Ragan: My husband and I both lead worship. If it’s not his Sunday to lead worship, it’s probably mine. If we’re not leading, we’re singing. I actually met my husband singing with the Baylor Gospel Choir. You should hear him sing. I was in the Gospel Choir, and he came to do a workshop for us.
WACOAN: So you heard his voice and fell in love with him?
Ragan: Actually, I didn’t like him at first. I just liked his voice! He was too young for me. Actually he’s only a year younger, but he has a young look about him. But then I got to know him, and I fell in love with him. We both sing at church, and he plays drums. When we sing together, it’s pretty amazing.
WACOAN: Church is a big part of your life.
Ragan: My kids are in church much of the day on Sunday. It’s a big part of our lives, and I want my kids to feel that.
WACOAN: Besides taking care of your kids, what causes are near and dear to your heart?
Ragan: Compassion Ministries is an organization I really believe in. I was on the board for six years and just rolled off as president. Even though I’m not on the board, I’m still involved.
I prepare tax returns for the residents there. I love doing that, and I will continue that as long as they need me. I love Compassion because they are helping people become self-sufficient.
I also mentor two Waco High students through the [Greater Waco] Chamber’s [Leadership, Education and Development] program.
WACOAN: Why is mentoring important to you?
Ragan: Being an African-American woman in the accounting field is unique, and I want to show them that you can be successful doing whatever you want, no matter the color of your skin. It doesn’t matter what you have or don’t have or what your situation is, you can be successful.
I grew up poor, but it didn’t limit me from having a college education. You just need a vision, and you have to be willing to do the work.
WACOAN: Is balance something you think about in your everyday life or do you have to work for it?
Ragan: Initially, it’s something I had to work on. But getting into a routine, it’s just something that happens now. Family and work are very important to me. It’s a skill to balance both. I never want to put anything over my family. They are No. 1 in my life, after God.
My professional life and my career are important to me. I love working with clients and seeing how we can help clients. What I do professionally helps my home life, so I have to balance the two. I’m doing it for my kids, so they know that they can be successful. I’m doing it so they can live better than I did.
Even though I had a great childhood, we didn’t have much financially. By the world’s standards, we were poor. We didn’t feel poor, but we were. And I want my kids to have something better. I love my work, but I’m doing it for my kids and for my family.