In high school, Alma Gates Scroggins’ father thought she was too tenderhearted to fulfill her ambition of becoming a social worker. Believing she wouldn’t be able to say no to people, he talked her into becoming an accountant instead. Yet as CFO of CNN, Scroggins had to say no to some of the media’s most familiar faces – far from the role her father might have envisioned.
Scroggins is a native of Greensboro, Alabama, graduating from Greensboro High School in 1965. She went on to graduate magna cum laude from The University of Alabama’s College of Commerce with a degree in accounting in 1969.
Scroggins was in the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, serving as chapter president. She credits this as being her first experience with running a business. In recognition of her hard work and academic aptitude, Scroggins was tapped for Alpha Lambda Delta, Beta Alpha Psi, and Beta Gamma Sigma.
After working for a year at Dudley, Hopton-Jones, Sims & Freeman in Birmingham, Alabama, Scroggins left the accounting firm to work for Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) in Atlanta, Georgia. When she started, the company had 300 employees, one TV station, five radio stations, and nine outdoor advertising plants. Being involved at the ground level of Turner and being exposed to Ted Turner’s vision of growing a company and leveraging its assets, Scroggins received invaluable training and insight to help continue its success.
When CNN launched on June 1, 1980, there were doubts, particularly in the eyes of the accountants, as to whether it would succeed. When Scroggins was called in from the Turner side and named vice president of CNN Financial Administration in late 1981, CNN was facing costs far beyond original projections Working with journalists to consider cost alternatives to covering news, Scroggins became a trusted colleague and stabilizing influence. With cost controls and procedures in place, and the network’s growing acceptance in the news industry, CNN became profitable in 1985. Promoted to CFO and senior vice president, Scroggins was the first female member of the CNN executive team. She served 30 years, retiring in 2000 as executive vice president of the CNN News Group, which in her 18 years at CNN had grown to encompass CNN, Headline News, CNN Radio, CNN International, CNN Newsource, CNN Airport Network, CNN/Sports Illustrated, and CNN En Español.
Scroggins received several awards honoring her accomplishments. In 1993 she received the Media Award from the Culverhouse College of Commerce. She was appointed to the inaugural UA’s President’s Advisory Board in 1999 and received The University of Alabama National Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumna Award in 2003. Scroggins is a lifetime member of the Board of Visitors for the Culverhouse College of Commerce and is one of the initial members of its Faculty Enhancement Foundation.
Scroggins served as the chair of Buckhead Christian Ministries, a consortium of churches reaching out to the working poor. She was treasurer of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church and chair of their Board of Trustees. She is a founding partner and treasurer of a Christ-centered nonprofit women’s charity, One Hundred Shares, Inc. Created in 2007, OHS has awarded more than $1 million in grants in Atlanta, with a vision of expanding this concept to other communities.
Scroggins currently serves on the executive team of the Women’s Initiative at Peachtree Road. The organization provides restoration in the form of housing, medical and counseling needs, spiritual encouragement, and education to women facing reentry into society from incarceration and from the sex trafficking industry.
She is married to Lee Andrew Scroggins, Jr., has three stepchildren: Elizabeth, Lee, and Charlie, and seven grandchildren.