Women’s History Month: The Journey from NJCPA Scholarship Winner to Partner

 – March 20, 2024
Women’s History Month: The Journey from NJCPA Scholarship Winner to Partner

From Dora Roworth, CPA, the first female member of the NJCPA, to the countless female professionals who made their mark on the accounting profession, the NJCPA salutes Women’s History Month. In a special tribute, we spoke with NJCPA scholarship recipients who advanced to partners in their careers on their successes, challenges and how they made it happen.   

Contributing Factors

“Without a doubt, the biggest contributing factor would have to be my family; they have always been my rock and I am so fortunate to have the biggest cheerleaders as my support system. Without the constant guidance, encouragement and support of my parents, I would not be where I am today. From an early age, I developed a strong work ethic and saw how passion played a large role in everyday life. At that time, it didn’t mean much (because as a kid, you just want to play with friends and have fun), however looking back, because these basic characteristics were instilled in me, they’ve helped me to attain success in my career in a way that was familiar. I was able to follow my passion, work hard and achieve many goals as a result.”
— Nicole M. DeRosa, CPA, MAcc, Partner at Wiss

“The main contributing factors have been 1) the mentorship that I have received throughout my career and 2) the flexibility that public accounting has to offer. I have and had many mentors throughout my career thus far both within my firm and colleagues at other firms whom I met through the NJCPA. I would not be where I am today if I did not have their support and guidance over the years.  I was also able to take advantage of the flexibility that public accounting has to offer and reduce my workload and work on a flexible schedule when my children were really young. This allowed me to spend more time with them, but also advance and grow in my career.”
— Henrietta Fuchs, CPA, Partner at CohnReznick LLP

“My success can be attributed to a combination of focus, dedication, ambition, grit and a sprinkle of stubbornness. 95% sweat, 5% tears.”
— Sarah Krom, CPA, MST, Managing Partner at SKC & Co. CPAs, LLC  (Sarah is a past president of the NJCPA)

“Throughout my professional journey, I’ve had the privilege to be part of an incredibly supportive and dynamic environment. In the fast-paced culture of accounting, I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by both peers and mentors who excel in their technical, social and project management skills. Each professional has contributed to my growth, allowing me to learn and constantly continue to refine my own abilities.”
— Sviatlana LiPuma, CPA, Partner at Marcum LLP 

“The inner motivation to continue to challenge myself and have a positive impact on those around me — both individuals and the broader community — drives my actions. Success is a by-product of determination and grit. None of it would be possible without the support of my family, friends and colleagues who continue to encourage me and challenge me.”
— Jessica D. Offer, CPA, Partner at Withum

"Just as the accounting profession is constantly evolving, with new regulations, technologies and industry trends emerging regularly, I have focused on continuous learning and development during my career. I started in the traditional service lines of tax, accounting and auditing. After some time, I transitioned to a controller role within our CPA firm. This opened me up to an entirely new spectrum of experiences ranging from financial management, administration, human resources, facilities management, marketing and business development and IT management. I learned all about the ’business of accounting’ and how crucial operations management is to a fast-growing CPA firm. As a result of my experiences in these areas of public as well as private accounting, I’m able to provide much more than accounting services to my clients as a leader in our Client Accounting & Advisory Services division. In developing my competence and expertise in these areas during my career, I’ve strongly relied on networking and relationship building. Cultivating meaningful connections with my peers in accounting and in operations management has been incredibly beneficial.”
— Sarah Snell, CPA, PSA, PAFM, Partner and COO at Holman Frenia Allison, P.C.  

Mentor Importance

 “For me, it has always been more about positive role models in both my career and in my personal life. My parents are obvious ones, but I’ve also had some pretty good examples of people over the years in the accounting profession who took me under their wing and offered insight and guidance when needed. I’ve also crossed paths with many people outside the accounting profession with whom I respect and have sought out for guidance. Building meaningful relationships with peers both inside and outside the profession pays dividends and you never know just when those relationships will come in handy.”
— Nicole M. DeRosa, CPA, MAcc, Partner at Wiss

“My mentors have been extremely important throughout my career. I have had many mentors over the years; some were formally assigned, but most of them are informal mentors whom I established a relationship with at various points throughout my career. Some are from within my firm, others work at various other firms and some others have nothing to do with public accounting at all. It is important to me to receive feedback from multiple people and consider various perspectives. Also, they have always provided me with constructive feedback and helped me with setting realistic and achievable goals. They also pushed me when I needed to be pushed, and continuously helped me with reaching higher. This enabled me to take on roles and get involved in projects that I did not originally believe that I could have or had the right amount of experience for. Their guidance has been instrumental to where I am in my career today.”
— Henrietta Fuchs, CPA, Partner at CohnReznick LLP

“Invaluable. In every stage of my career I have been inspired, lifted up, challenged and motivated by my mentors. I would not have accomplished all that I have without mentors in my life.”
— Sarah Krom, CPA, MST, Managing Partner at SKC & Co. CPAs. LLC

“Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to work with many mentors. However, I find that the most important ones have been the professional relationships that happened naturally. For example, there have been times when I was scheduled to meet with a colleague that I never met on a project. The luck of being chosen together helped me find one of my most valuable mentors as we collaborated on research, managed complex matters and had to have tough client conversations together.” 
— Sviatlana LiPuma, CPA, Partner at Marcum LLP 

“Mentors are extremely important, especially those who do not fully realize the impact they have on you until they are witnessing the fruits of their unintended labor. I was asked by a staff once, who do I most look up to, but there are many people who I admire for different reasons. That is the beauty of connection and community, you can be uniquely inspired by many.”
—  Jessica D. Offer, CPA, Partner at Withum

NJCPA Scholarship Influence

“I define success as setting realistic goals, and one day ultimately achieving them. The scholarship was one of my goals. I first applied for the NJ(S)CPA scholarship when I was in high school (I know, I’m dating myself with the “S”) and was not selected to receive it. I then applied again when I was in college and was extremely happy to be selected the second time around. Receiving the NJCPA scholarship the second time around was so rewarding because it reaffirmed that if at first you don’t succeed, try again; that simple mantra has really helped shape my approach towards my career goals as giving up is never really an option for me.”
— Nicole M. DeRosa, CPA, MAcc, Partner at Wiss

10 Tips for NextGen Women CPAs

Their collective advice and wisdom for NextGen women CPAs includes the following:  

  • Let your work stand for itself and advocate for yourself.
  • If you fall off the horse, get right back on and keep going. Plain and simple.
  • “Ask for forgiveness, not permission.” Too often women hold themselves back. Inspire future women to not only lean out over the edge but to take the leap that you are afraid to take. It will be life changing.
  • Don’t be afraid to take up space and be confident in your abilities and what you have to offer.
  • Avoid the tendency to say “I’m sorry” for the slightest things; we are all human.
  • Surround yourself with people who believe in you, support you and have your best interest in mind.
  • Set career goals.
  • Invest in ongoing education and professional development.
  • Cultivate a mindset that welcomes change, as it is a foundation for innovation and success, both within the workplace and beyond.
  • Build strong relationships with mentors and peers.

“Receiving the NJCPA scholarship was instrumental in my decision to enter public accounting. It also introduced me to the amazing network of CPAs that the NJCPA has to offer; a lot of whom I keep in touch with and consider to be my friends. It also drove me to get involved with the NJCPA Student Programs & Scholarship Committee as well as the NJCPA Scholarship Fund. I have been involved with the scholarship program for over 15 years; I really enjoy meeting the new group of students that are looking to study accounting and become CPAs. Being the beneficiary of some very meaningful mentoring relationships and understanding the importance of mentorship, I have been involved in various mentoring programs, including some which are women-centric, to give back and help with the advancement of our younger professionals. I find this to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my career.”
Henrietta Fuchs, CPA, Partner at CohnReznick LLP (Henrietta is the current president of the NJCPA Scholarship Fund)

“The NJCPA Scholarship was my first introduction to the Society. It was the connection point where I am now able to give back. Once I saw all that the organization had to offer, I knew I wanted to make choices that would allow me to give back to the profession. I wanted to set career goals that would put me in a place to influence the lives of others coming into the profession.”
— Sarah Krom, CPA, MST, Managing Partner at SKC & Co. CPAs. LLC

“Being granted the NJCPA scholarship was a pivotal moment that significantly influenced the direction of my professional life. At the time, I was balancing a full-time job alongside my college classes. The financial assistance provided by the scholarship was invaluable. However, the scholarship's impact extended far beyond monetary relief as it opened countless new opportunities. As a beneficiary of this award, I was honored with an invitation to Scholars Institute — an opportunity that allowed me to meet distinguished CPAs who worked in different fields of accounting across various industries. I had my first experience of professional networking. I learned how impactful the profession is and how successful one could become as an accountant. Without a doubt, the NJCPA scholarship charted the course for my future and helped me become the professional I am today.”
— Sviatlana LiPuma, CPA, Partner at Marcum LLP

“Because of the NJCPA scholarship, I was more active in NJCPA events, which ultimately is how I learned about Withum at the NJCPA career fair — and have stayed for over 15 years!!”
— Jessica D. Offer, CPA, Partner at Withum

“The opportunities and support provided by the NJCPA scholarship that I was awarded when I was in college facilitated my professional development and advancement in the accounting field. Receiving the award solidified the burgeoning relationship that I had with the NJCPA through my exposure up to that point. Not only was I able to gain access to resources, networking opportunities and professional development programs that helped shape my career, the award program also introduced me to a sense of community and connection that I had not experienced before. I became connected to a community of fellow scholars, alumni, mentors and professionals. The sense of belonging and connection to a supportive network provided encouragement, guidance and inspiration as I pursued my career goals. This alignment influenced my career choices and goals, motivating me to contribute to the accounting profession and give back to the community through my work.”
— Sarah Snell, CPA, PSA, PAFM, Partner and COO, Holman Frenia Allison, P.C.