I cannot adequately describe my disappointment that once again the impact of Coronavirus continues to be a focus of the President’s Memo and in much of my personal and professional daily life. With the tremendous success of the three vaccines in preventing infection and minimizing symptoms in breakthrough cases (the ‘good’), one would think that the pandemic would soon be over. However, I doubt many of us thought that nearly half of the country (60 percent plus in Tennessee) would refuse or fail to get vaccinated. Even though the vaccinations are nearly 90 percent effective against the new Delta variant, with the large number of those unvaccinated causing another surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths, one in ten of us vaccinated folks are at risk as we attempt to reopen society (the ‘ugly’).

Probably, almost none of you know my political stance. I prefer it that way. I can, however, tell you that I am fiscally conservative, socially moderate, tend to be a little skeptical of the fringes (whether to the left or right), and respect everyone’s right to choose their political posturing. Nonetheless, I struggle to understand how anyone can justify putting themselves and others at risk because of political beliefs. If I am sounding a bit angry, sorry, but I am.

As I have stated and hopefully demonstrated, I consider maintaining the safety of NASBA’s great staff and volunteers as a critical responsibility. We recently had our first face-to-face NASBA Board of Directors (BOD) meeting in over a year in our Nashville headquarters. It was wonderful to be together again. To ensure a safe experience for all, we put every precaution we could in place. Every BOD member was vaccinated, and only vaccinated staff could enter our office while the BOD meeting was in session. A few days after the meeting, one of our vaccinated staff members became ill (cold like symptoms) and tested positive for COVID-19. It is most likely that the staff member was infected offsite by someone who chose not to be vaccinated, thus putting others at risk. Thankfully, because of the precautions we implemented, there is a very low likelihood that others were impacted, but it has to cause concern and anxiety for some. This too is ‘ugly,’ and it makes me angry.

So, why am I writing about this and why is this important to NASBA as an organization? In the May President’s Memo, I discussed that it is our intent to have the Annual Meeting in California this late fall, but that we would continue to monitor and consider COVID-related restrictions. Since that Memo, and as announced at the virtual Regional Meeting in June, we decided to require all Annual Meeting participants and attendees to be vaccinated. We remain hopeful that we can safely have a face-to-face meeting and that is still our intent. However, the recent predictions of another late fall surge of new cases are keeping us a bit in limbo, in both our planning of meetings and conferences and in determining how and when to bring staff back to our offices.

Another example of ‘good’ was the tremendous success of our fiscal year that ended on July 31. Our amazing staff has continued to improve in effectiveness while working in a remote environment, and we ended the year in a financially positive position. Increasing numbers of staff are voluntarily coming into the office, and nearly 85 percent have been fully vaccinated. Our volunteer governance leaders, committee chairs and designated staff have kept our major initiatives such as CPA Evolution and Strategic Planning on track, without losing a step. 

Switching gears, it has become increasingly evident that growing the CPA Pipeline of examination candidates and licensees must be a high priority for NASBA. We have already begun a dialog with AICPA, educators and others to consider how we can move the needle in measurable ways. The fact that we have a lot on our plates as we move towards implementation of CPA Evolution in 2024, and several other big-ticket issues, cannot be an excuse for not taking on Pipeline challenges. The governance leaders of NASBA have made it clear that we need to address it now, and we must do it effectively.

I end by telling you that the ‘good’ certainly outweighs the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’ across the spectrum of what NASBA does. More importantly, we are not resistant to identifying and addressing the challenges and opportunities in front of us. That is what we do, we deal with… the good, the bad and the ugly.

Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).

– Ken L. Bishop    
President & CEO

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