In an NYSSCPA State of Mind at the Moynihan Fund Gala

Ruth Singleton
Published Date:
Jun 27, 2017

Gala Mitchell and COAP grads
At the Moynihan Fund Gala, COAP graduates Kimberly A. Roque, Kelvin Joseph and Arlie Bonilla pay tribute to Bert N. Mitchell, the founder of the COAP program and the recipient of the NYSSCPA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Some of the biggest names in the accounting world came out for the second annual Moynihan Fund Gala on May 17 at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers to support scholarship, diversity and recruitment programs throughout New York state. The event raised nearly $200,000 for the Moynihan Scholarship Fund. Members of Billy Joel’s own band, performing as Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot, played the music legend’s greatest hits.

At the gala, the NYSSCPA honored Bert N. Mitchell with the NYSSCPA Lifetime Achievement Award and David A. Lifson with the David J. Moynihan Award. Mitchell, a past president of the NYSSCPA, was a founding partner of Mitchell & Titus, LLP, the largest minority-owned CPA firm in the country. Thirty years ago, he established the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (COAP) program to increase racial diversity within the profession by offering high school students a five-day college readiness course to introduce them to accounting. Lifson, another NYSSCPA past president, was one of the earliest supporters of The Moynihan Fund when it was launched in 2015 to honor the memory of Past President David J. Moynihan, a staunch supporter of expanding opportunities for students who major in accounting.

Three graduates of the COAP program—Kimberly A. Roque, Class of 2004, now a CPA and tax manager at Farkouh Furman & Faccio; Kelvin Joseph, Class of 1996, now the COO at Steiner Sports; and Arlie Bonilla, Class of 2016, now a student who intends to pursue a master’s degree and become a CPA—introduced Mitchell.

Joseph said, “Thirty years ago,  … most of the COAP students ... had never seen a black CPA, and becoming one was not even considered an option. COAP set out to change that, and as I stand before you today as a CPA, as a COO, I can tell you: COAP, Bert Mitchell, that’s why we’re here tonight.”

Mitchell spoke about becoming the first African-American to head a state society of CPAs: “This was a significant development, and it provided me with a conduit to create a program that would positively impact young adults in need of direction and resources, while also helping secure the future of our profession for coming generations,” he said. “The COAP program has done an incredible job introducing high school students from minority groups to opportunities in the CPA profession.”

Lifson praised Mitchell as “a role model for our profession,” saying, “You spoke to the importance of a more diverse profession, appreciating the nooks, crannies and elegance of our differences and the sophistication of our similarities but knowing that much was missing from that mosaic of our profession. So we stand here tonight with a common purpose.  We all look to the future of our profession and the importance of building a talented and diverse generation of young CPAs that can lead us into that future.”

In his remarks, Immediate Past President F. Michael Zovistoski announced that the Society would establish The Moynihan Scholarship Fund Inc. as a separate 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. This organization, he said, “will be responsible for administering the scholarship programs, the [COAP] program and the Benevolent Fund.” Zovistoski additionally announced that the NYSSCPA had worked with the Foundation for Accounting Education “to provide a new benefit for our members: free online CPE. ... It’s already started. … You can go online and do it today, if you want.”

In addition, Zovistoski presented the NYSSCPA Distinguished Service Award to John J. Kearney; the Dr. Emanuel Saxe Outstanding CPA in Education Award to Denise M. Stefano; the Outstanding CPA in Government Award to Edward J. Torres; and the NYSSCPA Chairperson of the Year Award to former SEC Committee Chair Charles V. Abraham.

Incoming President Harold L. Deiters III spoke about his dedication to “looking at ways we can attract and keep young professionals in the CPA profession and the important role the Society plays as an advocate for our members and the CPA profession here in New York state.”

In addition to Deiters, the NYSSCPA installed Jan C. Herringer as president-elect; Anthony T. Abboud as secretary/treasurer; Paul E. Becht, John B. Huttlinger Jr., Mitchell J. Mertz and Candice R. Meth as vice presidents; and 11 directors to the board. They are: Anthony S. Chan, Mark L. Farber, Craig T. Goodman, Kimberly G. Johnson, Mark M. Ulrich and Jennifer R. George as directors-at-large, and Douglas L. Hoffman, Lynne M. Fuentes, William H. Dresnack, Dennis N. Annarumma and Thomas S. Pirro as directors as chapter representatives.

The NYSSCPA and the Moynihan Scholarship Fund wish to thank the following sponsors for their generous donations that will help support the future of the profession in New York state: $25,000: Baker Tilly, Crowe Horwath LLP; $10,000: Gibgot Willenbacher & Co., Proskauer Rose LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers; $5,000: AICPA, BDO, EisnerAmper LLP, KPMG, Marks Paneth LLP, Bert N. Mitchell, Mitchell & Titus, the NYSSCPA Nassau Chapter, PFK O’Connor Davies, UHY Advisors, Anonymous; $1,000: BCA Watson Rice LLP, Bolton-St. Johns, The Bonadio Group, Capell Barnett Matalon & Schoenfeld LLP, Tony Cassella, Sherry L. DelleBovi, Joseph M. Falbo Jr. and Suzanne M. Jensen, Gertler Law Group, Arthur Gordon, Jan C. Herringer, Robert Holland Jr., Jean G. Joseph, J. Michael Kirkland, John J. Lauchert,  George Lewis, Barbara A. Marino, Kevin Matz, PC Progressive Computing, Pearl Insurance, Richard E. Piluso, Todres & Company LLP,  F. Michael Zovistoski.




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