ASWA recognizes work life balance with 2008 awards

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The American Society of Women Accountants Educational Foundation honors companies on the national, regional, and local levels and individuals across the country for their commitment to work/life balance. The Foundation's Balance Awards presented recently at the American Society of Women Accountants(ASWA)/American Woman's Society of CPAs (AWSCPA) Joint National Conference at The Dallas Fairmont in Dallas, TX, highlight the accomplishments of companies and individuals who successfully balance work and life.

This national recognition, sponsored by Accountemps & Robert Half Finance and Accounting, is conferred by a panel of ASWA judges and reflects a clear prioritization of both the value and the values that winning companies place on their chief asset: their people.

The Balance Award winners are as follows:

National Balance Award Recipient – Intuit, Mountain View, California
Intuit established the Intuit Women's Network in 2005, providing access to relevant workshops and speakers, networking and mentoring opportunities and leadership roles.

Intuit gives back to its community through its "We Care & Give Back" program, allowing every employee 32 hours of time off for volunteer activities a year. The Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation strives to share the company's financial and tax expertise and products with the economically disadvantaged.

Regional Balance Award Recipient – Lefkowitz, Garfinkel, Champi & DeRienzo PC (LGC&D), Providence, RI. LGC&D has provided flexible work schedules to its employees for more than 20 years and launched its Women Count initiative in 2006, with a goal to grow and strengthen business relationships with other women professionals in the community and to mentor the firm's female colleagues. Two senior managers recently participated in a youth program to educate kids about financial literacy, targeting at risk kids and those with emotional disabilities.

Local Balance Award Recipient – Raffa PC, Washington, DC
Raffa is a woman-owned regional consulting, accounting, and technology firm with more than 190 professionals committed to strengthening the nonprofit sector. Partners invest heavily with financial support and pro-bono services to many clients, and each month, the firm matches employee charitable fundraising activities. Raffa employees serve on not-for-profit boards, and nearly all employees volunteer in the community. Raffa created its Buddy Program which matches veteran and new employees to foster mentoring and career counseling.

Individual Balance Award Recipients

President's Award
This year, 2007-2008 ASWA National President Karen J. Gunther, from Tambone Investment Group, in Burlington, MA honored 2000-2001 ASWA National President Cynthia Coleman Kessler, Chief Executive Officer, at Clinical Trials Management, LLC, in LA., with the annual President's Award. "I am honored to bestow this award upon Cynthia Coleman Kessler for her courage, tenacity, grace and constant commitment to ASWA," said Karen J. Gunther.

Woman of the Year and Region 5 (Southwest)
Jacqueline F. Akerblom, Managing Partner of Women's Initiatives and Programs, Grant Thornton LLP, San Jose, CA.
Akerblom is the national managing partner of women's initiatives and programs for Grant Thornton, and a number of the programs introduced to the firm through the Women at Grant Thornton initiative are the result of her national leadership in this area. Akerblom takes full advantage of Grant Thornton's informal job flexibility, which allows her to carry out her work responsibilities and serve her clients as well as make time to be a room mother to her son's classroom and help chaperone field trips. Akerblom also serves on the board of directors of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Executives, an organization whose primary mission is to provide access to capital for women entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley.

Region 1 (Northeast)
Kristina Drzal Houghton, CPA, MSO, Principal & Head of Tax Department, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, PC, Holyoke, Mass.
As Meyers Brothers Kalicka, PC's first female partner, Houghton is also a frequent writer for regional journals on business and tax-related matters and performs volunteer work for the Kiwanis Club of Springfield, the CPAmerica Executive Tax Advisory Board, and with her daughters' Girl Scout troops, serving as a leader for two different troops and mentoring two girls on earning their Girl Scout Gold Award. Her work mentoring women is also evident at the office, where she supervises four female professionals and was instrumental in developing a partner-in-training program, which allows for talented CPAs who may work part-time to be admitted as partners to the firm.

Region 2 (Southeast)
Kathryn Habluetzel, Partner, Private Wealth Services, Grant Thornton, LLP, Charlotte, NC.
Habluetzel is a partner in her accounting firm, a wife, a mother of two children, a breast cancer survivor, and a volunteer in her community. She has paved the way for other working mothers in her industry through her demonstration of how to balance professional advancement with personal family time. Habluetzel succeeded in leading the growth of her practice by 21 percent while on a flexible work arrangement last year.

Region 3 (North Central)
Erica O'Malley, Partner and Chicago Employee Benefits Practice Leader, Grant Thornton, LLP Oakbrook Terrace, IL.
O'Malley has been instrumental in organizing networking and leadership events for Grant Thornton as well as women in business in the local community. Her networking event last year, brought together more than 200 women from law firms, banks, CPA firms, and other professional organizations. She's participated in the Tax Assistance Program, offering free, confidential tax and student aid form preparation and financial consulting services to low-income clients. Additionally, she's served as treasurer for Naperville Pom & Cheer for five years and serves on the Project Gabriel team at her church, assisting mothers with unexpected pregnancies and helping them learn to manage their financial affairs.

Region 4 (South Central)
Lori A. Davis, Tax Partner & Practice Leader, Grant Thornton, LLP, Wichita, KN.
Davis has received the Grant Thornton STAR award for outstanding leadership and helped the Wichita office increase the tax practice's net revenue by more than 70 percent in her first two years there. She's also active with the local Junior Achievement program, currently serving on the Executive Committee and as treasurer of the Wichita affiliate. She was actively involved with the Stock Market Challenge, a Junior Achievement education and fundraising event that teaches high school students about the stock market and builds financial awareness.

Region 6 (Northwest)
Sharron O'Donnell, CPA, Bader Martin, PS, Seattle, WA.
O'Donnell is an advocate for her community's not-for-profit sector, both as a board member and a teacher. She currently chairs United Way's Audit Review Committee and is a board member for the King County Sexual Assault Resources Center. She has taught a course at Seattle University and, for more than 10 years, has taught a United Way-sponsored workshop on fiduciary responsibilities for not-for-profit board members. O'Donnell is also a member of Executive Alliance, an organization offering classes and networking to people working in not-for-profit organizations.

About The ASWA Educational Foundation
The mission of The American Society of Women Accountants Educational Foundation is to promote and advance financial literacy, scholarship, and life skills through programs of recognition, mentoring, research, and outreach. The ASWA Foundation sponsors the Balance Awards each year to recognize companies and individuals who succeed in balancing work and life. Additional Foundation programs include scholarships to encourage women professionals in the accounting fields to reach new levels of professional achievement and certification.

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