Leap of Faith

A Profile of Ryan Tax Firm’s Gabrielle Begue

Gabrielle Begue Ryan Photo

Gabrielle Begue is all that her title at Ryan Tax Firm suggests and more. She is the senior manager of Historic Tax Credits at Ryan tax services, but she is foremost a New Orleanian through and through. Born and raised in the crescent city, she grew up in an 1870s resident on Washington Square in Faubourg Marigny, one of the city’s earliest neighborhoods outside of the French Quarter. One of her favorite places is City Park’s Couturie Forest: A 60-acre nature preserve right in the middle of the park, where the sounds of the city fall away. “The past two summers I’ve also been loving Chance in Hell SnoBalls, and a Pimm’s Cup on the front porch of the Columns Hotel is always a good idea.” And like most New Orleanians, she contains multitudes.

Begue first left the South to study French language and literature at New York University. But after a decade of experiencing life in the big apple, and exploring an uninspiring career in book publishing, she knew it was time for a big change. “I wanted badly to move home to New Orleans and stumbled upon historic preservation as a potential new career path,” Gabrielle says. “Tulane School of Architecture has a respected graduate program, and so I took the leap. That was twelve years ago and I’ve never looked back.”

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In 2013, Begue co-founded, along with a fellow graduate of the Tulane program, Beth Jacob, a historic preservation consulting company, Clio Associates. The two learned about the federal and Louisiana historic tax credit programs while in school and saw them as the perfect combination of preservation and economic practicality. Property owners and real estate developers, who might otherwise have little interest, could be incentivized to save old buildings due to lucrative credits—a 20% federal credit and a 25% Louisiana credit—which could be stacked as well. “We created Clio because, at the time, there was no company in New Orleans to hire us as employees to do this work, and so we decided to create one ourselves.”

The risky jump to a new field, the eye for a great opportunity, and the gumption to create what was missing (and needed), led Clio Associates to benefit Begue and Jacob in many ways: “We met so many wonderful people and worked on some incredible projects.” In 2018, Clio was acquired by MacRostie Historic Advisors (MHA), the leading national historic preservation consulting firm, and became MHA’s New Orleans office. “It was thrilling to become part of such an esteemed group of professionals and rewarded our efforts as Clio over those five years.”

Then Ryan Tax Firm entered the scene. In February 2022, Ryan acquired MHA to become the company’s new Historic Tax Credit (HTC) group. Ryan is a leading global tax services and software provider and the largest firm in the world dedicated exclusively to business taxes. The firm provides an integrated suite of federal, state, local, and international tax services on a multi-jurisdictional basis, including tax recovery, consulting, advocacy, compliance, and technology services.

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Ryan was founded in 1991 in Dallas, Texas with a focus on sales and use tax and in July of 2000, it opened its third office outside of Texas in Baton Rouge. The New Orleans office opened in 2014 with an exclusive focus on sales and use tax. Today the New Orleans office provides a broad scope of services, including sales and use tax, property tax, historic tax credits, state and federal incentives, and transaction tax and property tax compliance.

The company now boasts over 4,500 employees on a global scale and isn’t slowing down. “In the past 5 years, our team has grown from around 10 employees to over 40, which is a 300% growth,” Begue says. “Our New Orleans operations have expanded so quickly that we are currently in the process of moving into our 4th office in the past 10 years.”

“My role at Ryan is similar to what it was at MHA,” Begue explains, “except for the fact that joining Ryan allowed us to hire more staff, and now more of my time is spent doing traditional manager-type duties.” Those duties include teaching the many joys and challenges of the historic tax credit industry and Begue discovered that she really enjoys the new role as teacher. “What we do is so niche, and finding other members of our rare tribe helps fuel my passion and commitment to the work.”

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As a senior manager in the historic tax credits group at Ryan, Begue does a mix of project and client management as well as staff management. “In the morning I might be consulting with a developer and architect on appropriate approaches to historic window repair, and that afternoon I could be negotiating a new proposal or drafting invoices.” Since the day Begue joined Ryan, she has loved the incredible depth of support and resources made available. “Also,” Begue shares, “and this might sound facetious but it’s true – the people are remarkably friendly and helpful. They care about what they do and want everyone to succeed.”

When asked about her personal and professional goals, Begue is quick to share how the two  goals are aligned: “I would like to one day be a published author. There are so many incredible stories that we encounter as architectural historians digging into the past, and I hope to share some of them in non-fiction as well as fictionalized works.” Begue is proud of her decision to change careers, because it means she overcame the frightening nature of uncertainty. “I’m fortunate that in my case it was the exact right choice for me. Professionally, I’m proud of the many historic buildings I have helped to rehabilitate, buildings that could easily have been demolished and lost forever if historic tax credits were not available.”

 

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