International Women’s Day is an opportunity for OSCPA to highlight a handful of the women who are leading the way in making our profession great. This spring, OSCPA is launching the Women’s Initiatives Committee, aimed at supporting and advancing women in the profession. Stay tuned for upcoming events, including a special breakfast at the Dayton Accounting Show. For more information on this new committee, contact OSCPA staff liaisons Amy Johnson or Karen West.
Catrina Latten, CPA, CISA has a passion for sharing her experiences and inspiring the next generation of CPAs. Through her involvement in OSCPA as well as the Cleveland chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants, Latten has seized opportunities to reach minority students in her community about rewarding careers that are possible with an accounting degree and CPA license.
“Young people are fabulous at creating their own future – when they know what the opportunities are,” Latten said. “Students can aspire to what they see, and that’s why it’s important to me to share my story. Your world becomes so much bigger when you know what the possibilities are.”
Latten speaks at OSCPA’s ASPIRE! Diversity in Accounting program and serves on the Accounting Careers Awareness Program (ACAP-Ohio) planning committee. “For me, volunteering has not only helped others, but it’s come back to help me personally and professionally through the connections I’ve made. The bigger your network, the more opportunities you’ll have.”
Laura A. Hay, CPA, chief operating officer at The Ohio Society of CPAs has used her unique blend of financial acuity, audit experience, and persuasive leadership skills to manage the day-to-day operations of the Society for 21 years. She oversees financial management and technical services, and provides strategic direction for the membership, education and training, and peer review initiatives of the Society. Hay is most visible to members as the staff lead for the Society’s technical and Professional Ethics committees, and as an instructor for OSCPA’s professional standards courses. A firm believer in protecting the ethical foundation on which all CPAs practice, Hay helped guide the creation of OSCPA’s new Ethics Consultant service. A one-of-a kind service among state CPA societies, this program offers Ohio CPAs a confidential, peer-to-peer sounding board for situations that could prove to be ethical or legal dilemmas. Before joining OSCPA, Hay was a senior auditor with Price Waterhouse in Columbus and an accounting instructor at Indiana University.
Carol Topp, CPA, sole practitioner, has made a professional and personal commitment to help others understand the power of making financially sound decisions. Topp educates community members and teenagers about financial topics while handling tax work for small and micro businesses, and non-profit organizations.
“I find great satisfaction in making accounting understandable to a client,” Topp said. “I enjoy public speaking and try to present business terms and the IRS code in a way that my audience can grasp.”
Topp credits her OSCPA membership with connecting her with other sole practitioners who have become her mentors and support group. She volunteers with several Ohio CPA Foundation programs to bring financial literacy to students.
“I always encourage women to consider accounting because it is so flexible,” Topp said. “I had an aptitude for math, but no one encouraged me to go into accounting. I started with engineering instead. My own daughter is studying accounting because she can go into just about any city and find work. The doors are wide open.”
Kenya Watts-Martinez, CPA, controller at The Ohio Society of CPAs has told her story to aspiring accounting students at the Accounting Careers Awareness Program (ACAP-Ohio) for the past six years. Despite growing up in a difficult environment, Watts-Martinez built a successful career and now mentors younger students.
“I passionately believe children are our future and we need to invest in them,” said Watts-Martinez. “Along the way, everyone has been helped in some way. As CPAs, we have an obligation to help the next generation and expose our profession to students.”
Alex Swain, advisory staff at Ernst & Young received The Ohio CPA Foundation’s student scholarship while a senior at The Ohio State University, graduated in 2011, and quickly joined OSCPA’s Young CPA committee and the steering committee of GenNext, a young professional service group coordinated through the United Way of Central Ohio. As a member of both groups, she plans monthly activities in the Columbus community.
“I wanted to build a deeper understanding of what CPAs are doing in their professional lives and in the community,” said Swain, of her decision to join YCPA. “I hoped to expand my network and provide the perspective of a young, aspiring CPA who is not working in the traditional audit or taxation world.”
Teri Haught, CPA, chief financial officer at ArtsWave has devoted much of her life to giving back to her community. As CFO of ArtsWave, a non-profit organization that supports and provides funding and services to the arts, and as a current member of OSCPA’s Executive Board, Haught uses her CPA credential to advance causes that she believes in.
“I get to work at an organization that does so much for the community, Cincinnati, my hometown,” said Haught. “The Fine Arts Fund has made Cincinnati a better, more attractive, more distinguishing place to live and work. I love working with the volunteer committees to get the job done and to make the wisest investment.”
“I get to use my knowledge and skills to help solve a problem or advance the work of a community organization,” Haught said. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, develops friendships, and I have fun along the way. You never know where the road may lead and these relationships may one day be a gateway to a new life adventure.”
Darlene Finzer, CPA, principal with Rea & Associates, doesn’t believe in doing anything part way. “If I’m going to be involved in something, I want to do it 100%.” She appreciates the vastness of the profession, and encourages up-and-coming CPAs to really explore everything the profession has to offer.
“Accounting lets you guide your career where you want it to go,” Finzer said. “I started in tax, now I’m in audit. It’s so much more than number crunching.” Finzer specializes in benefits plan audits, and is a certified 401(k) plan administrator and a certified senior advisor. She has served on The Ohio CPA Foundation Development Committee and the Employee Benefit Plan Audit Conference Planning Committee and volunteers each year to teach FETCH! in local elementary schools.