AICPA Selects 'Rising Stars' for 2013 Leadership Academy Class

By Deanna C. White
This fall, some of the most promising young minds in the CPA profession will have the chance to learn about their own personal leadership style and critical issues facing their field when they participate in the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) 2013 Leadership Academy Class.
According to the AICPA, the fifth annual Leadership Academy Class, which will be held September 29 to October 3 in Durham, North Carolina, includes "thirty-eight up-and-coming stars" in the accounting profession  all under the age of thirty-six.

Members of the 2013 Leadership Academy Class

Listed in alphabetical order, the 2013 Leadership Academy Class members are:
  • Mohamad Al-Kawafha, PKF, Houston, TX
  • Chad Allen, Acord Cox & Company, Lenexa, KS
  • Tracy M. Allen, AKT LLP, Lake Oswego, OR
  • Victor A. Amaya, ClearPath Accountants LLC, Littleton, CO
  • Jaclyn T. Badeau, Tempur-Pedic North America LLC, Lexington, KY
  • Jennifer J. Brown, GSC Agribusiness, Carroll, IA
  • Tessa Carr, Arnett Foster Toothman PLLC, Charleston, WV
  • Erik M. Causey, KPMG LLP, Washington, DC
  • Harris Darver, McGregor & Company LLP, Columbia, SC
  • Christine DeAngelis, Leone, McDonnell & Roberts, PA, Wolfeboro, NH
  • Michelle B. Dooley, ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, Calvert AL
  • Melissa Dunn, BBD LLP, Philadelphia, PA
  • David M. Finklang, Brown Smith Wallace LLC, St. Louis, MO
  • Kathryn M. Fletcher, Draffin & Tucker LLP, Atlanta, GA
  • Misty L. Geer, Halliburton Energy Services, Lafayette, LA
  • Amber K. Goering, Amber K. Goering, CPA, P.A., Olathe, KS
  • Dena Jackson Lester Harrison, Protiviti, Orlando, FL
  • Jason H. Hunter, Mantyla McReyolds, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Curtis M. Johnson, Mutual of Omaha, Omaha, NE
  • Brett J. Jordan, Deloitte & Touche LLP, Seattle, WA
  • Heather N. Lenardson, Lenhart, Mason & Associates LLC, Casper, WY
  • Rachael K. Lloyd, Emdeon, Inc., Nashville, TN
  • Satyasomeswar Maruvada, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Raleigh, NC
  • Elizabeth N. Mason, BeachFleishman PC, Phoenix, AZ
  • Jose L. Navarro, City of Bakersfield, Bakersfield, CA
  • Joshua Norris, Corkern & Norris PLLC, Jackson, MS
  • Elizabeth S. Pittelkow, ArrowStream, Inc., Chicago, IL
  • Iralma Pozo, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp., Bronx, NY
  • Craig S. Ralston, StoneTurn Group, Boston, MA
  • Joseph M. Rugger, Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic Lab, Jonesboro, AR
  • Kala O. Sharp, ONEOK, Inc. and ONEOK Partners L.P., Tulsa, OK
  • Kelly M. Sics, Wisconsin Dental Association, West Allis, WI
  • Scott Smith, Smith, Kunz & Associates PLLC, Rexburg, ID
  • Justin Thomsen, Muckel Anderson CPAs, Reno, NV
  • Jeff W. Wilson, National Credit Union Administration, Alexandria, MD
  • Jayme Woehl, Array Services Group, Inc. Sartell, MN
  • Mary Yeager, Plattenburg & Associates, Cincinnati, OH
  • David Zuidema, Dennen Steel Corporation, Grand Rapids, MI
Being chosen as part of this select cadre of young professionals will not only enhance the careers of the Leadership Academy participants, their development as future leaders and mentors will also be a boon to the profession, said AICPA Chairman Richard Caturano, CPA, CGMA.
"Being selected for the AICPA's Leadership Academy means being part of an elite group of the best and brightest young minds in the accounting profession," said Caturano. "These young CPAs are poised to make a positive impact in the profession, and the training they will receive will serve them well as they take the next steps in their careers."
During the intensive five-day program, participants will learn about "leadership theory and strategic planning techniques, while developing tools for handling complex management challenges"  all strategies designed to help them tap into their nascent potential as future leaders.
Leadership Academy organizers say the highly individualized and personalized leadership sessions are designed to encourage participants to develop their own unique leadership style. The impact of the leadership sessions are very personal to each individual, organizers say, because the sessions encourage participants to immerse themselves in self-awareness exploration and to set both long-term and short-term personal and professional goals.
Leadership Academy participants will also have the chance to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing CPAs and the accounting profession today with some of accounting's most influential leaders, including Caturano and AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA.
The AICPA selected the thirty-eight attendees who will participate in the Leadership Academy from a pool of more than 120 candidates. Candidates were recommended by their employers, state CPA societies, or both.
Donna Salter, AICPA senior manager, young member initiatives, said candidates were selected for the Leadership Academy based on a broad scope of criteria. Candidates submitted resumes that included work history, licensure information, professional volunteer activities, community service, and awards and honors. 
Salter said the AICPA asked candidates to explain how they believed attending the Leadership Academy would impact them personally by submitting a 500-word essay that answered the question, "What key challenges face entry-level accounting professionals today?" 
"The resulting essays conveyed what level of awareness candidates possess of the accounting profession and how they perceive their current or future role," Salter said.
Salter said candidates' proven track record on giving back to the profession was also a key selection factor.
"We looked for those that are passionate for volunteerism in their state society or affiliate membership organization," Salter said.
Salter said the class of 2013 represents not only the preeminent young minds of the profession, but also the diversity of leadership the AICPA strives to foster in the profession.
"The selected attendees represent a well-balanced list of future leaders by geography, gender, specialization, employer size, and ethnicity," Salter said.
Future leaders, like 2013 Leadership Academy class member Mohamad T. Al-Kawafha of Houston, Texas, who wrote in his submission statement that he hopes the Leadership Academy helps him develop the skills he needs to lead people. Al-Kawafha also said: "[I believe] attending the  Leadership Academy will increase my self-awareness, develop and refine my leadership skills, help me create a clear and compelling vision, build confidence in communicating effectively, improve my ability to influence others, and use my leadership skills to make a difference in our profession."
For more information on the AICPA Leadership Academy or other AICPA initiatives for young CPAs, visit the AICPA website
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