Massachusetts Society of CPAs Honors Six Women

The Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA) announced the 2016 honorees of their Women to Watch Award, which recognizes women who have made an outstanding contribution to the accounting profession, their community, place of employment and/or to the development of women as leaders.

Six Massachusetts women were selected, three in the Emerging Leader category for professionals with 15 years of experience or less, and three in the Experienced Leader category, reserved for women with more than 15 years in the field.

Award winners will be honored on Nov. 2 at MSCPA’s Eighth Annual Women’s Leadership Summit at The Westin Boston Waterfront.

“The MSCPA is celebrating the achievements of these remarkable women and we’re looking forward to honoring them for their outstanding contributions to their peers, their community and their profession,” says Amy Pitter, president and CEO of the MSCPA.

The MSCPA represents over 11,000 members.

The 2016 Women to Watch Award winners are (in alphabetical order):

Experienced Leader:

  • Pamela Kelleher, partner at Ernst & Young
  • Zara Muradali, partner at KPMG
  • Linda Smith, MP at Smith Sullivan and Brown

Emerging Leader:

  • Jeanie Gorlovsky-Schepp, manager at AAFCPAs
  • Laura Gregoriadis, principal at DiCicco Gulman & Company
  • Jessica Platt, principal at CliftonLarsonAllen

Texas Society of CPAs Selects Incoming Executive Director/CEO

Jodi Ann Ray

Jodi Ann Ray

The Texas Society of CPAs (TSCPA) is pleased to announce the selection of its incoming executive director and CEO Jodi Ann Ray, who will step into the role on Jan. 1.

Ray comes to TSCPA from Meeting Professionals International (MPI) where she was the vice president of membership and volunteer experience responsible for governance, as well as community development, which encompassed membership and more than 90 chapters and clubs in 24 countries. Prior to joining MPI, she served as the CEO for chambers of commerce in Connecticut, North Carolina and Texas, where she oversaw all operations including membership, government affairs, economic development and finance.

Past TSCPA Chairman Mark Lee led the task force that worked with an executive search firm on the nationwide search. “This was not an easy task, and it was one that we each put a great deal of thought and care into completing with the best interest of TSCPA in mind. We are confident that Jodi Ann is well-positioned to take our organization into our next 100 years.”

Bowers to Receive 2016 Urbach CPA Community Builders Award

The New York State Society of CPAs is pleased to announce that NYSSCPA member James Bowers, a Syracuse-based CPA from Onondaga County, N.Y., has been chosen to receive the 2016 Urbach CPA Community Builders Award for his leadership in recovering a number of nonprofits throughout his career.

The Urbach Award is named in honor of the late Michael H. Urbach, who was also a partner at Urbach, Kahn and Werlin (now called UHY Advisors); former New York State Commission of Tax and Finance; and former board leader of a number of charities. The New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA) and New York Council of Non-Profits (NYCON) co-sponsor the award. The Urbach Award is given to NYSSCPA members who have made outstanding contributions while serving on the board of directors of charitable organizations.

Bowers’ leadership and financial expertise aided two nonprofits in recent years: InterFaith Works, an agency located in Syracuse, which helps bridge the gap between people of different religions, races, and cultures through four major programs, serving over 26,000 people a year; Transitional Living Services (TLS) of Onondaga County, which serves people with developmental disabilities and behavioral health issues.

“I’ve been involved with Interfaith Works for a long time and I feel like they speak to me on a personal level,” says Bowers. “InterFaith Works is the type of organization that is needed now more than ever. During our dialogue circles, we go to schools, hospitals, and other locations to talk about our differences whether it’s racial, cultural, or political and try to understand what those differences are, which could be very hard to do.”

During the early 2000s, InterFaith Works Board wasn’t sure that they could meet payroll and keep the agency alive. During Bowers’ service on the board, he along with others, helped create an emergency planning project that restructured the executive staff, instituted cost-saving methods, built the morale of the remaining staff, and brought the agency through the crisis by 2004.

“In 2002, InterFaith Works faced a severe financial downturn,” says Beth Broadway, president and CEO of InterFaith Works. “Mr. Bowers was pivotal in saving the agency from closing its doors. He spearheaded the financial management protocols that were implemented and established a plan to put the agency back on solid financial ground.”

In addition to the changes made at InterFaith Works, Bowers’ accounting expertise was pivotal in TLS’s development of a new community residence for people with developmental disabilities that also expanded community support services for those with mental health issues. TLS merged with Enable in 2013 and is now called AccessCNY, where Bowers currently serves on their finance committee.

Bowers has been a society member since 1974, is a member of the Syracuse chapter, and has chaired on a number of the society’s Rochester and Syracuse chapter committees.

“I would certainly recommend CPAs to give back to non-profit organizations, says Bowers. “The financial expertise of CPAs is needed to help balance budgets as funding for these programs tighten up. CPAs have a certain way of seeing things, such as how the mission of an organization and its financial status can work together. This is why CPAs should find an organization that they are interested in and give back.”

Bowers has worked as a CPA for clients in the short line railroad industry for more than 40 years and currently works at Bowers & Company CPAs, PLLC as partner-in-charge of the railroad industry. He continues to serve on InterFaith Works of Central New York Board of Directors and chairs the Faith Hope Community Center’s finance committee.

20 Young Professionals Graduate from 2016 BLI Leadership Academy

Twenty young professionals are ready to lead the CPA profession into a changing and complex world after completing the Business Learning Institute’s 2016 Leadership Academy.

Held from Aug. 24-26 in Towson, Md., the annual Leadership Academy teaches high-potential CPAs the finer points of strategic thinking, strengths-based leadership and how to engage their networks. Now in its sixth year, the program is designed to help attendees determine what steps they need to take to climb the leadership ladder based on new learning and current realities.

Tom Hood

Tom Hood

“Nearly 10,000 baby boomers retire every day, but based on the talent we saw in our Leadership Academy classroom, the future of the CPA profession is in good hands,” says Tom Hood, president and CEO of the Business Learning Institute and the Maryland Association of CPAs. “These next-gen leaders are excited to be leading the transition and transformation of our profession for the future. They are ready to be positive and inspirational leaders capable of mobilizing people to accomplish great things.”

Using their “Insights to Action” (or i2A) strategic thinking system, Hood and fellow facilitator Gretchen Pisano taught attendees how to develop their executive presence based on their personal and professional strengths, how to tap into the strengths of their teams to drive growth in their organizations, and how to engage their teams in creating a shared strategy.

Using the i2A system, attendees also identified what they believe are the seven current and future trends that are having the greatest impact on accounting and finance professionals:

  • Remote workforces
  • Artificial intelligence
  • The presidential election
  • Social media
  • Globalization / convergence of international standards
  • Cloud accounting / data security
  • The need for proactive advisors

The group also identified the profession’s key challenges and turned them into four high-leverage opportunities:

  • Expand value-added services.
  • Leverage technology for efficiency and insight.
  • Become a talent magnet.
  • Build the bridge for succession planning.

The group plans to reconvene later this year to create a whitepaper that outlines specific steps for how the profession can address some the trends that are impacting the profession.

Graduates of the Business Learning Institute’s 2016 Leadership Academy are:

  • Brianne Baccaro-Norris (Weyrich Cronin & Sorra)
  • Megan Baker (McLean Koehler Sparks and Hammond)
  • Erica Beaumont (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Lee Brody (CohnReznick)
  • Shawn Burman (MKS&H)
  • Michael Derbin (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Kelly DeRose (Gary R. Bozel & Associates)
  • Jason Friedman (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Alina Korsak (Melanson Heath)
  • Megan Lindenmeyer (Gary R. Bozel & Associates)
  • Erinn Madden (Berman Goldman & Ribakow)
  • Edith Orenstein (Maryland Association of CPAs)
  • Kevin Pyzik (Mister Burton & French)
  • Paige Sawicki (Maryland Association of CPAs)
  • Greg Scherer (Weyrich Cronin & Sorra)
  • Christie Stravino (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Shanda Swann (Aronson)
  • Andrew Venters (Novotny Larash & Venters)
  • Daniel Weimer (Arthur Bell CPAs)
  • Susanne Wolfe (Arthur Bell CPAs)

MACPA, BLI Usher in New Era of Learning for Accounting and Finance Pros

Bill Sheridan

Guest Blogger Bill Sheridan

By Bill Sheridan
Maryland Association of CPAs

Nano learning and blended learning are now accepted forms of continuing professional education, thanks to newly revised standards from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the AICPA.

That means a new offering from the Maryland Association of CPAs and its learning subsidiary, the Business Learning Institute, is the first nano learning program for finance professionals in North America to qualify under the new standards.

The revised standards will provide “for one-fifth (0.2) of a CPE credit for nano learning, and the ability to award one-fifth (0.2) of a CPE credit for programs using other delivery methods after a minimum amount of credit has been awarded,” according to the AICPA. “Additionally, (the standards) revise the definitions of group live and group Internet-based programs to focus the definitions from how the content is delivered by the instructor to how the content is received by the participants.”

“Boards of Accountancy, CPAs, and CPE providers have recognized the need for CPE to continue to evolve to keep pace with current learning models,” said Maria Caldwell, Esq., NASBA’s chief legal officer and director of compliance services. “The addition of nano learning and blended learning delivery methods is representative of that effort.”

The MACPA’s Anticipatory Organization™: Accounting and Finance Edition, or AOAF, is the first nano learning program for CPAs that meets these innovative new learning standards. The program combines three- to four-minute, single-concept videos with rapid application exercises to accelerate learning of complex competencies in less time than traditional CPE programs. It was developed by international futurist and best-selling author Daniel Burrus and recognized by Accounting Today magazine as one of the 2016 Products of the Year in the learning category.

The effectiveness of the AOAF model — short videos followed by exercises that teach you to apply what you’ve learned to what you do — is backed by science.

“In 1885, a German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted a study about memory called ‘Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology,’” writes Jacob Shriar, director of content for Officevibe. “What he found was pretty shocking to anyone involved in training and development: Ninety percent of information or knowledge learned will be forgotten within three days. … Because of how quickly we forget, it’s important to review the information you just learned within 24 hours of learning it. The research shows that if you do that, you’ll be able to retain 80 percent of the information. If you review again 48 hours later, that number goes up to 85 percent. If you review again 72 hours later, you’ll retain pretty much all of the information.”

Beyond that, Shriar writes, nano learning helps increase employee engagement, helps create a culture of continuous learning, and is easy to update with the latest information.

A track record of innovation

The MACPA and the BLI have pioneered new methods of learning for more than a decade, starting in 1999 with the association’s “Management by Sticky Notes” collaboration process and continuing in 2008 with the groundbreaking CPA Island in the virtual world of Second Life. In 2012, the MACPA also pioneered technology for remote collaboration and audience participation / engagement. These continue to elevate and accelerate learning for our participants.

The MACPA and the BLI continue to work to transform learning in five key ways:

  1. Social: We have been using Twitter hashtags for several years to supplement learning at conferences. We are now exploring more formal ways of capturing and documenting this learning. (See MACPA CEO Tom Hood’s report from the 2016 AICPA EDGE Conference.)
  2. Mobile / nano, or “Just When You Need It” learning: The MACPA and the BLI are working on a innovative learning platform called “Wise,” which uses social media to track and report nano or micro learning from Twitter and LinkedIn.
  3. The cloud: The AICPA Navigator learning management system allows us to offer what we call “the four Cs of talent development” — competencies, career path, and a curriculum on a cloud-based learning platform. The LMS allows firms and companies to move their talent development to a strategic and systematic approach. The MACPA and the BLI can bring that expertise to your LMS.
  4. Collaboration: The MACPA’s “Management By Sticky Notes” process, the io audience participation tool, and the ThinkTank Collaboration platform are highly engaging ways of increasing learning through involvement. (See Hood’s article, “The Year of the Sticky Note.”)
  5. Competency-based learning: With our Bounce framework (which maps BLI programs to the new CGMA Competency framework), we can now create strategic learning plans for organizations. Our new program to build a competency around anticipation and strategic thinking is both a nano learning program and a way to develop competencies, with its rapid application exercises and collaboration guides for teams. Our competency focus is part of our DNA, from the initial research from the AICPA Vision Project and the updated CPA Horizons 2025 Project that identified the top five future competencies for CPAs.

Advances in technology and learning are coming together to truly transform what and how we learn. As Hood says, “In a world of rapid change and increasing complexity, the winners will be those who can keep their L>C. That is, their rate of learning greater must be greater than the rate of change and greater than the rate of their competition.”

How are you keeping your L>C?

Bill Sheridan is the chief communications officer / new and social media specialist for the Maryland Association of CPAs.

NY CPA Leader Honored for Corporate Social Responsibility

Joanne BarryNew York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA) Executive Director and CEO Joanne Barry was honored with City and State’s 2016 Corporate Social Responsibility Award for her Sustainability.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for the consensus-building work the NYSSCPA has done this year in the effort to establish an integrated accounting framework in the United States as we strive for global financial stability and sustainable development,” Barry says.

The CSR Awards in Sustainability recognize outstanding corporate citizens for their work in sustainability – from the construction, energy, transportation and food industries and beyond.

“Getting the CPAs on board with this initiative is critical to any sustainability effort anywhere in the world,” Barry says. “CPAs measure impact. They allocate resources. They prepare the financial statement; they audit it. The sustainability effort needs CPAs to get to the next phase of implementation. And right now, in the accounting community, there is a real need to educate the rank and file members of the profession and to gain consensus on how to measure what before has only been conceptual.”

She continues, “How do you measure and value a corporate brand? How do you measure economic impact? It’s an entire movement of getting these assets on the balance sheet so that corporate managers and investors can assess the true value of a company – and for investors, to understand if a company’s values reflects their values. It’s an exciting time and I’m grateful for the opportunity to help move the needle on this issue.”

In May, the NYSSCPA held the first sustainability accounting conference of its kind in the United States, featuring the world’s foremost thought leaders on integrated reporting and sustainability accounting standards. In January, the NYSSCPA also established a Sustainability Committee, which acts as a forum for its members to address the evolving dialogue and financial reporting requirements that cut across all sectors of business.

While the committee membership is limited to NYSSCPA members; the NYSSCPA just recently opened its membership to non-CPA financial professionals, including bankers, attorneys, actuaries and other financial professionals with which CPAs do business.

IPA Spotlight On … Tom Hood

Tom Hood

Tom Hood

Name: Tom Hood
Organization: Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA)
Title: President and CEO, MACPA and CEO and founder of Business Learning Institute, the learning and innovation center of the MACPA


  • LinkedIn Top 150 Influencer
  • Accounting Today Second Most Influential Person in Accounting (2015, 2013)
  • CPA Practice Advisor Hall of Fame and Top 25 Thought Leader
  • HR Advisor Top 25 Thought Leaders in Talent Management
  • AICPA Special Recognition Award for CPA Vision Project

You say you’re passionate about four things: technology, collaboration, learning and leadership. Why?

We have been tracking the future of the profession for the past 15 years and find that these four things will be accelerators of success in this rapidly changing world. Technology continues to be the biggest “hard trend” driving change in the CPA profession and the business environment. Collaboration is quickly replacing the “experience curve” and a critical competency for working with clients and internal teams. Learning will be the only competitive advantage (L>C2) for individuals and organizations in the future. Leadership is the catalyst to make all of that happen faster.

You’re a well-known “early adopter” of social media and an advocate for using technology to streamline accounting firm processes and procedures. What’s one area of technology that is under-utilized by accounting firms today?

Social media and cloud technologies in general are the two biggest and underutilized opportunities for firms. Social media is the single best thing I have done. Period. Social media can be a powerful tool for marketing, connecting to customers and most importantly, learning and keeping up with change. Cloud technologies supporting practice management and client access allow firms to create higher levels of engagement with both clients and staff and support flexible work environments, which are critical to supporting today’s overwhelmed employees.
There are so many opportunities, changes, challenges, innovations and disruptions happening in the profession, that it’s easy for managing partners to get distracted and not know where to focus their energy. In your opinion, when considering all the “noise” out there, what are the top three things that MPs need to focus their attention on?

The three biggest areas MPs should be focusing on are culture, people and technology. Culture is about engaging your people in your vision, purpose and values and making that your firm’s operating system. This continues to be one of the top ways to create a happy and engaged workforce. The focus on our people falls into two areas – succession planning and talent development. Succession planning is about creating a planned, sustainable future with the retiring boomer partners. Talent development is about creating a strategic and systematic career development process that includes “success skills” like leadership, strategic thinking, anticipation and other critical competencies. Technology is about creating capacity by implementing smart technology applications, including workflow and other cloud applications.

You’ve led strategic planning sessions for CPA firms all over the U.S. What have you taken away from that experience about the future-readiness of accounting firms?

We are seeing an increased readiness and elevation of firm strategies in the last few years. We define future-readiness as the capacity to be anticipatory (aware, predictive and adaptive) of emerging trends in business, technology, demographics and the social environment impacting your organization and industry. Leading firms are developing strategic plans to leverage the opportunities and minimize predictable problems by carefully looking at these future trends and co-creating the future with their partners and staff.

Final thoughts?

We are living in “exponential times” where the size, scale and scope of change is incredible. That means there are incredible opportunities for those who can see through the fog of uncertainty and anticipate what’s next. The biggest opportunity is to harness the wisdom of our older generations with the fresh perspectives of the tech-savvy younger generations. The next generation of leaders is enthusiastically ready to have a seat at the table. The future is not created; the future is co-created. Let’s get to work!

Baker Tilly Partner Recognized by Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs

Jonathan Zeigler

Jonathan Zeigler

Chicago-based Baker Tilly Virchow Krause (FY16 net revenue of $522.3 million) partner Jonathan Zeigler was recently honored as a 2016 Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs Young Leaders Award recipient. The award is given to accountants who have demonstrated commitment and active participation in their community and the accounting profession.

“We are proud of the recognition Jonathan has received,” says Ken Hugendubler, partner and firmwide insurance industry practice leader. “He is passionate about the accounting industry and consistently demonstrates Baker Tilly’s values of integrity, passion and stewardship in both his personal and professional commitments.”

Zeigler will receive the award at the PICPA’s Leadership Conference Sept. 19.

As a partner at Baker Tilly, Zeigler specializes in serving insurance industry clients with an emphasis on accounting and assurance services for property and casualty and warranty companies.

Vacha Elected to MSCPA Board of Directors

Jen Vacha

Jen Vacha

Jen Vacha, a tax partner in St. Louis-based Brown Smith Wallace (FY15 net revenue of $36.7 million), has been elected to the Missouri Society of CPAs board of directors.

Vacha, who was recently recognized by the MSCPA as a “Woman to Watch” and an experienced leader in the accounting profession, will serve a three-year term, beginning July 1, 2016. She will serve on the board’s finance and audit committee.

Vacha frequently presents on not-for-profit IRS information filings to boards and audit committees to enhance their knowledge about Form 990 and the story it tells about their organization. Her presentations cover topics such as required disclosures, compliance with other reporting requirements, good governance, compensation, revenue hierarchy, reporting special events, and differences between financial statement and Form 990 reporting.

Georgia Society of CPAs Names Evans to Chair

GSCPA_2016The Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants (GSCPA) has named Barbara Evans to serve as chair of the society’s board of directors for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

 Evans, the former CFO of Thomas Concrete Inc., was appointed at the society’s annual convention in June and will serve a one-year term.

“Barbara brings nearly 40 years of industry experience to the GSCPA board of directors,” says Boyd Search, CEO of The Georgia Society of CPAs. “Her long and successful career in finance and management along with her devotion to volunteerism make her an ideal chair for the society.”

During her term at GSCPA, Evans plans to expand the society’s diversity and inclusion through education. She intends to develop programs to educate students of all ages about the CPA career path.

“We need to encourage more students to take the CPA exam,” Evans says. “The exam is hard, but I know if I can do it, many others can, too.”

An 18-year member of GSCPA, Evans has served as a director of the GSCPA board of directors and GSCPA council, chairperson of the Minority Issues Committee, and vice chair of the Annual Convention Task Force. She has received numerous awards including the GSCPA Outstanding Member in Industry Award (2014), the GSCPA Distinguished Committee Chair Award (2003-2004) and the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Founders Trophy Award (2001-2002).