Adair takes office as the NYSSCPA’s 95th president

By:
NICOLE SAUNDERS
Published Date:
Jun 25, 2014

Scott M. Adair was elected as the NYSSCPA’s 2014–2015 president on May 15 during the Society’s Annual Election Meeting & Dinner, where he vowed to revise the organization’s strategic plan, help steer the conversation on non-CPA firm ownership and prioritize efforts to develop young CPAs.

An NYSSCPA member since 2000, Adair was the Society’s 2013–2014 president-elect and spent two years as its secretary/treasurer. He is a past president of the NYSSCPA’s Rochester Chapter and the chief financial officer at the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority.

He will be joined by Joseph M. Falbo, Jr., who was named the 2014-2015 president-elect. Falbo, who is also a past NYSSCPA secretary/treasurer, was the 2012 recipient of the Society’s Special Recognition Award, which honors members who have made extraordinary contributions to the organization.

In its 117th year, the Annual Dinner was rebranded as a red-carpet “gala and premiere” and boasted several new elements, such as a surprise video tribute to outgoing President J. Michael Kirkland that included former New York Gov. David A. Paterson. Kirkland, who steps down after a year full of change for the Society, with its relocation to Wall Street, thanked the NYSSCPA for giving him the opportunity to serve and encouraged other members to step into leadership roles.

“During my Buffalo Chapter managing partner visit, I was asked this question: Why should someone volunteer and take up a leadership role in the NYSSCPA?” Kirkland said.

“I paused for a moment and replied, ‘Look into the mirror and ask yourself that question. If the answer is to add a highlight to my resume, get a promotion, publicize a book or article—in other words, purely for self satisfaction—then those are the wrong reasons to step forward. But if you truly want to help move this wonderful profession of ours forward and protect our membership and the public; if you care about education and providing opportunities for young people, those are the right reasons to step forward.”

Adair, Kirkland added, is stepping forward for the right reasons.

Adair praised Kirkland’s leadership and said that, while he hoped to “shake things up,” he would continue many of the initiatives begun under his predecessor, including the NYSSCPA’s NextGen program, which provides professional development services and networking opportunities for young CPAs, and the Young Leadership Circle, which identifies rising stars within the profession and offers them opportunities to learn from and interact with Society officers.

“Young CPAs are the future leaders of this profession,” Adair said. “…We have to make sure that we provide [them] with the valuable skills and tools that have been provided to us and mentor them along so that they’re sitting [here] at some point and time in their career.”

The road to success
As another new element of the evening, consistent with the “gala and premiere” theme, Chitra Nawbatt, an anchor and correspondent for Canada’s Business News Network (BNN), conducted a candid sit-down interview with Adair.

During the talk, Adair said that while he has had “a wonderful career as a certified public accountant” and that “being a CPA means everything” to him, his journey had been challenging. He graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 1988. But later, Adair said, he struggled to pass the CPA exam, trudging back and forth to test centers over the course of 12 years—a story of perseverance he often recounts for young people hoping to enter the profession. “I spent a long time earning this license, and it built a lot of character in me,” he said.

Noting that the Society and the profession as a whole are “graying,” Adair added that, as NYSSCPA president, he intends to focus on wooing new talent to the profession, by strengthening initiatives like the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (COAP) program.

Adair also said that he and the Board of Directors would be working to update the Society’s strategic plan, which articulates the organization’s goals, for the first time in six years, “so that we are ready for the next 10 years as we move forward.” To that end, the NYSSCPA has established a Strategic Planning Committee, which is tasked with creating a long-term plan for the organization. It is expected to propose revisions by the end of the calendar year.

What’s more, Adair said that he would be keeping the topic of non-CPA firm ownership on his radar screen. Legislation that would allow firms to bring on non-licensee owners is currently awaiting a hearing in both the Senate and Assembly’s Higher Education committees. The NYSSCPA reaffirmed its support for the bill at its Executive Committee meeting in February, having decided to back the concept in 2012, after several years of research and debate. “We need to be at the table to make sure the rules and regulations around [non-CPA ownership] are structured correctly to protect all of our interests,” Adair said.

Noting that NYSSCPA members are a group of professionals who “don’t toot their own horns enough,” Adair said that he would use his term to make sure the public gets an even better sense of the work and value of the Society.

“We have a wealth of knowledge and we have to make sure people realize it,” he said. “What I’ve learned from our visits to Albany is that [legislators] listen to us—they want our valuable input on issues they’re dealing with. That’s true at the state level, the local level and the federal level.”

He also appealed to members to help with efforts to promote the organization, by spreading word amongst their colleagues. “I need you to carry this message back to your offices, talk to your partners, your staff, your clients,” he said. “I need you to ask and insist that people get involved in this profession and in this Society.”

Other NYSSCPA business

As the Society’s most high-profile event of the year, the Annual Dinner serves several different functions: It’s an opportunity for the organization to conduct official business, including the election of officers and the approval of changes to the bylaws; raise funds for the COAP program; and honor the recipients of the NYSSCPA awards.

The Society formally elected members of its Board of Directors, which includes Vice Presidents Harold L. Deiters III, Timothy P. Hedley, Scott D. Hosler, and Cynthia A. Scarinci; Secretary/Treasurer F. Michael
Zovistoski; Director-at-Large Peter H. Frank; and Directors as Chapter Representatives Jacqueline E. Miller (representing the Adirondack Chapter), Elizabeth A. Haynie (representing the Nassau Chapter), David G. Young (representing the Rochester Chapter), Rosemarie Giovinazzo-Barnickel (representing the Staten Island Chapter) and Paul E. Becht (representing the Suffolk Chapter).

The Society also bestowed honors upon two members: Suzanne M. Jensen of the Northeast Chapter, who won the NYSSCPA’s Outstanding CPA in Industry Award, and A. Rief Kanan of the Mid Hudson Chapter, who won the Dr. Emanuel Saxe Outstanding CPA in Education Award. Moreover, it acknowledged up-and-coming talent: Lauren Silberman and Daniel Eric Rubin, respective winners of the Charles Waldo Haskins Gold and Silver Awards, which are presented to the two highest scorers on the Uniform CPA Examination in New York State, and Rumbidzai N. Bwerinofa Petrozzello and Ashley Blecha, who were inducted into the Young Leadership Circle.

In addition, the results of the membership vote regarding whether the NYSSCPA should eliminate from its bylaws a requirement to change audit firms every four years was announced. The Board of Directors proposed to eliminate the rule in keeping with the Society’s position that public companies should not be required to rotate audit firms as proposed by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Members overwhelmingly agreed, by a vote of 1,587 to 194.

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