My year as chair of the NASBA Board of Directors has reached an end. It is difficult for me to acknowledge that 12 months have passed since my virtual inauguration last November. I deeply regret that we were deprived of the satisfaction received from attending our Regional and Annual conferences. Let’s face it, Zoom is not, and never will be, a substitute for personal contact. 

Our theme for 2021 is “Persevere,” which describes NASBA’s continued work despite obstacles and discouragement brought on by the pandemic. Regardless of the unfortunate reality, we have all survived the past two years and much has been accomplished as NASBA continues to persevere to fulfill our mission to you, our Boards of Accountancy.

CPA Evolution, an initiative which began under my predecessor, Laurie Tish, is still “front and center” as a priority for the profession. Although the journey we have been on in partnership with the AICPA, to revamp and modernize our professional licensure model is not over, there have been some positive accomplishments in this area this past year. Last fall, the AICPA and NASBA established four joint task forces comprised of volunteer subject matter experts from the academic community and CPAs from professional practice, business and industry, to develop the CPA Evolution Model Curriculum that the academic community could use as a tool to update their current accounting programs. Their work culminated 6-months later in a launch event hosted this past June by the American Accounting Association, that attracted over 2000 attendees. We continue our joint efforts with the AICPA to inform academic and student communities about forthcoming changes to the Uniform CPA Exam. In fact, surveys were sent out to accounting program chairs, educators, and students to provide important information on our joint efforts as we move toward implementation of a new Exam model in early 2024.

Legislatively, 2022 will likely be another busy year for Director of Legislative Affairs, John Johnson. During the last legislative session, NASBA identified and tracked some 228 pieces of deregulation bills. We can anticipate five to ten jurisdictions will have some form of deregulation bills filed next year in 2022. In addition, there is rollover legislation from 2021 that will also affect several states. This legislation will adversely affect the CPA profession across all jurisdictions. We will be working hard to ensure this does not happen. Our partnership with the AICPA and other professions to establish the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL) will continue to ensure our states have the tools necessary to provide talking points, suggested amendments and other research to our state partners to better inform state lawmakers that the CPA profession must and should be viewed and treated differently because we are a technical, licensed and learned profession.  We are not an occupation that would warrant wholesale deregulation.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was one of the key issues I proposed when I became NASBA chair, and it will also be one for my successor, Mike Fritz. During my inaugural address, I shared, “The challenge that diversity presents is one that begins with a willingness to have a conversation and to understand and accept that there are differences that exist among us, and that these differences should be viewed as tools to strengthen us, not to divide us.”

As our population grows and becomes more diverse, it is extremely important for our profession to reach out and attract qualified women and minorities to become CPA’s. Efforts must be made, not only to encourage the study of accounting to a young, more diverse population ─adding help to the pipeline─ but also to afford opportunities in management and governance, in both private and public sectors.

There has been positive movement in the makeup of our state boards to be more inclusive and diverse. I have participated in our regional calls and heard the discussions by our state boards as they tackle diversity and inclusion in their board makeup. I am pleased to hear that the “conversation” that I mentioned earlier is happening. Currently, only seven percent of our state boards currently lack women representation, which is a positive step. But it might surprise you to know that over 40% of our boards still have no minority representation, which confirms that more effort is needed in making our state boards reflect the licensees they regulate. I challenge you to consider giving opportunities to those who may be overlooked or marginalized, as their contributions to our profession may surprise you.

During my term, I had the pleasure of chairing the Strategic Planning Task Force. Like most well run organizations, a good deep dive into our mission and objectives is necessary to keep NASBA on track and responsive to all our stakeholders. I assembled a very diverse group of 15 individuals, men, women, and persons of color, from all eight NASBA regions to unite and evaluate our current Strategic Plan. The process spanned 7-months, starting in December and concluding this past June. We looked at the guiding mission, vision, and values of our organization, and evaluated our objectives and determined whether they were truly measurable to ensure that the services we provide were purposeful and meaningful for our member boards. The process was tedious and demanded much thought and effort, and no stone was left unturned. The Board adopted this new and improved Strategic Plan at its July Board of Directors meeting.

Finally, I want to offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to those of you who unselfishly gave of your time to serve on a NASBA committee or were our representative on a joint committee with the AICPA. Without you, the work that is so important to the profession and to the regulation of our profession could not be possible. To the leadership and staff of NASBA, my heartfelt thanks go to you for everything you do, and for helping me fulfill my role as chair. It is because of you that NASBA remains “Mission Driven – Member Focused.”

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