NJCPA Ovation Awards honor superstars whose exemplary efforts and stellar achievements are advancing New Jersey’s accounting profession.
The annual Ovation Awards recognize the multitude of ways that individuals contribute significant time, energy and intellect to developing our profession and fostering its success. The awards celebrate the high achievers who are emerging leaders, innovators, champions of diversity, educators, volunteers, notable women and other individuals who have made a substantial impact in accounting.
Robert J. Traphagen, CPA , CGMA
Managing Partner at Traphagen CPAs & Wealth Advisors
Bob has been a consistent “net giver” to the NJCPA for over 40 years, contributing his time and talent to enhance the NJCPA and the entire accounting profession. As a past president of the NJCPA, a member of its Board of Trustees, a past president of its Bergen Chapter, an American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Council member, a Rutgers University Institute for Ethical Leadership member and having been recognized by former New Jersey Governor James Florio for his community involvement, Bob is truly a Lifetime Leader.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION
William Bradshaw, CDP
Director of Inclusion and Diversity at WithumSmith+Brown
Since joining WithumSmith+Brown in 2020, Bill has brought diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront. He addressed societal changes and expanded industry partnerships while fostering an empowered workplace and encouraging further community engagement. Bill has improved policies, introduced remote learning opportunities and designed an equitable mentorship program. With his tenure covering the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) field, Bill is a sought-after thought leader.
Jacqueline Engelsman, PCM, CDMP
Director of Marketing and Business Development at RRBB
Jacqueline co-founded RRBB’s Women’s Forum, which provides a platform for women to speak openly about their successes and challenges to support each other. The Forum is dedicated to making sure employees are getting the time they need to take care of themselves, their families and their work. She led her firm’s efforts to win NJBIZ’s 2023 “Empowering Women” Award. She also sits on the Jewish Federation of West-Central New Jersey’s Business Networking Group and Women’s Philanthropy committees.
Joseph A. McGrath, CPA
Partner at Deloitte
Joe’s commitment to ensuring the accounting profession is accessible to all is well noted. He helped develop opportunities for the Deloitte Foundation to provide nearly $60,000 in grants to support the NJCPA Scholarship Fund to assist racially and ethnically diverse students on their educational pathways toward accounting degrees and CPA career readiness. Joe is an active member of the NJCPA Student Programs & Scholarships Committee, Emerging Leaders Interest Group and Professional Conduct Committee. He is also a Trustee of the NJCPA Scholarship Fund.
Chris Mitchell, M.Ed.
Inclusion, Diversity & Culture Manager at Mazars USA LLP
Chris has demonstrated a fervent commitment to breaking down barriers and fostering an environment of openness. His passion for promoting DEI goes beyond mere rhetoric. He is credited with infusing DEI into the fabric of the organization and initiating educational experiences via workshops and webinars. Chris has increased the diversity of staff at the leadership level and has played a major part in increasing the pipeline for qualified underrepresented candidates within the profession.
Kevin E. Roenian
Associate at WilkinGuttenplan
In addition to Kevin’s dedication to accounting, he plays a pivotal role in promoting DEI at WilkinGuttenplan. He researches DEI trends, works with internal affinity groups and looks towards making a broader community impact. Committed to raising awareness, Kevin organizes professional networking events as an active member of the Professional Filipino American Youth (PFAY) organization. Within this group, Kevin advocates for the CPA profession and highlights its fulfilling aspects.
Steven J. Budryk, CPA, MS
Manager at Traphagen CPAs & Wealth Advisors
Steven has distinguished himself as a true leader for his commitment to excellence in teaching and encouraging careers in accounting. As the youngest adjunct professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, he has made significant contributions related to accounting education by inspiring and mentoring students and colleagues. Steven also mentors and educates future CPA leaders in Traphagen’s College Ambassador Program as chair of its Recruitment Committee and as an active member of the NJCPA Emerging Leaders Interest Group and Student Programs and Scholarship Committee.
Mark J. Dalessio, CPA, MAccy
Assurance Senior at Ernst & Young LLP
Mark fosters a team environment wherever he goes. He gives back to the community through EY Connect Day, a firm-sponsored day of volunteering, and the Digital Divide program, which incorporates digital device recycling to help level the playing field for families in need of digital devices. He has been a mentor for countless interns and staff at EY while also working with their recruiting team to help shape the future of the firm and share his experiences. Mark is always looking for ways to enhance the audit process on his teams, removing inefficiencies and adopting the use of data analytics.
Kerry M. Duda Wilson, CPA
Audit Manager at WilkinGuttenplan
Kerry is a star in the making. She has served on numerous NJCPA interest groups and committees, such as the Emerging Leaders, Governmental Accounting & Auditing and Accounting & Auditing Standards interest groups and the Student Programs & Scholarships Committee. She is also a director with the Bergen Chapter. Kerry was a recipient of the NJCPA “Women to Watch” award in 2019 and is currently a member of the NJCPA Pipeline Task Force. She is a 2020 graduate of the AICPA Leadership Academy.
Kristina Kostovski, CPA, MBA
Senior Accountant at Traphagen CPAs & Wealth Advisors
Kristina makes significant contributions to the accounting profession by inspiring and mentoring students and colleagues. She has continued her passion for teaching at her alma mater, Montclair State University, where she is an adjunct professor. At the NJCPA, Kristina is a CPA mentor and evaluates scholarship essays. She is also an active member of the NJCPA Bergen Chapter, where she participates on its State Taxation and New Membership & Welcoming committees.
Jessica Leta, CPA
Supervisor at Holman Frenia Allison, P.C.
Jessica consistently goes above and beyond. One of her most notable achievements is her initiative to develop and present training sessions. She has created valuable resources that have enhanced the skills and knowledge of her colleagues, demonstrating her commitment to her firm’s growth and the professional development of her peers. Her ability to build strong working relationships, empower collaboration and make everyone feel valued and appreciated is a testament to her exceptional leadership qualities.
Daniel J. McGuckin, CPA
Tax Senior at Mazars USA LLP
In addition to being a tax senior manager in business tax services, Daniel has worked closely with Mazars’ Learning and Development Team, which supports employees in attaining professional qualifications suited to employees’ careers, and mentors new staff to make sure they progress and stay within the accounting industry. At the NJCPA, he has been a member of the State Taxation Interest Group since 2018 and has authored content to assist CPAs with outsourcing.
Robert Mulligan, CPA, PSA
Supervisor at Holman Frenia Allison, P.C.
What truly sets Robert apart is his extraordinary achievement of passing all four parts of the CPA Exam while still in school, showcasing not only his intellect but also his commitment to professional development. In a remarkably short time since joining Holman Frenia Allison in 2018, Robert became a supervisor in 2022. This rapid rise was not only due to his technical competence but also his ability to lead, inspire and collaborate effectively with colleagues and clients alike. He also mentors junior staff.
Michael Noreman, CPA, MST, MACC
Senior Director at Alvarez and Marsal
Few can say they are an expert in a challenging income tax topic like ASC 740, part of the U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) on how companies account for and report the effect of taxes based on income, but Mike’s technical knowledge is well beyond his years. He has been with Alvarez & Marsal for a little over a year and is one of the firm’s go-to resources on the subject. Mike has spearheaded firm initiatives on responding to Accounting Standards Update (ASU) disclosures.
Chloe L Shortino, CPA, MAcc
Tax Senior at Deloitte
Chloe is the epitome of giving back. She started helping her peers from college and previous internships with CPA Exam tips by creating study plans for them, sharing her experience and answering questions about the process. Internally, she worked with a partner to start a program targeted at incoming and current staff to help them pass the CPA Exam. Chloe plays an active role in Deloitte’s STRIDE program that holds monthly meetings for current staff and seniors to help them pass their exams.
Ann Marie Callahan, CPA, DPS
Professor at Caldwell University
Ann Marie is a steadfast supporter of the accounting profession and the NJCPA. While going for her doctorate, she continued to promote accounting careers to students and attended many NJCPA accounting educator events. She gives her all to NJCPA programs, such as participating in Scholarship Fund initiatives as well as the scholarship application process by reading, grading essays and interviewing prospective scholarship candidates.
Margaret O'Reilly-Allen, MBA, PhD
Accounting Department Chairperson at Rider University
A visionary educator, Margaret actively shapes a curriculum that aligns with the industry, such as delving into artificial intelligence in accounting courses and studying other real-world applications to create practical case studies for interactive student learning. Her research dedication showcases her commitment to the accounting profession and her students’ growth. Margaret played a key role in launching Rider’s online Master of Accountancy program. She was an Honorary Inductee into Rider University’s 2022 Norm Brodsky College of Business Hall of Fame.
Jay A. Soled, J.D., LL.M
Chair of the Department of Accounting and Information Systems at Rutgers University- Newark
Jay has been a leading professor in Rutgers’ Master in Taxation program for 35 years and is still extremely passionate and engaging. He is forward thinking about preparing students for the changing world they will be facing. Jay is a prolific author of tax articles and even maintains a small practice to ensure he is connected to what is occurring in the profession. He is a member of the Essex County and American Bar Associations and is a frequent speaker on radio and television programs.
Nancy Uddin, PH.D.
Accounting Department Chairperson at Monmouth University
Nancy’s service to the accounting profession is integral to the industry as a whole, both in and outside the classroom. She is a dedicated educator, providing real-world scenarios to her students, such as audit simulations, and teaches the theory behind accounting practices. She has been the treasurer of the Tinton Falls Public Library Association for the past five years and is a former president of the American Accounting Association (Mid-Atlantic region).
Evan C. Wasserman, CPA, MBA
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers Business School- New Brunswick
While general tutoring has been available at Rutgers Learning Centers, Evan has been instrumental in developing a program of extra help specifically for accounting students in the Accounting & Information Systems Department. Since 2015, Evan has been in charge of managing their undergraduate Teaching Assistants (TAs). He has been awarded the Professor of the Year Award by Beta Gamma Sigma and the Best Accounting Professor Award by the Rutgers Business Governing Association, which lets students choose the recipients.
Joseph A. Caplan, CPA, MBA
Partner at RRBB
Joe exemplifies the true qualities of a leader, focusing on talent development while also enhancing firm revenue and profitability. Passionate about the profession, Joe is an active member of the NJCPA, currently serving as president of the Monmouth/Ocean Chapter and as chair of the chapter’s Healthcare Committee. Joe was previously selected for the AICPA Leadership Academy and is now a member of the AICPA Young Member Leadership Committee.
Jerry W. Conaty, CPA, CFE, RMA, PSA
Partner at Holman Frenia Allison, P.C.
Jerry makes an impact at work and in the community. He has spent countless hours serving on the boards of various local, charitable organizations throughout the years including the Count Basie Center for the Arts; CSM Robert Gallagher Charitable Foundation as treasurer; Hometown Heroes as vice president; and the Jersey Coast chapter of the American Red Cross. At the NJCPA, Jerry serves as the leader of the Government Accounting & Auditing Interest Group and as a director of the Monmouth/Ocean Chapter.
Christopher Cowan, CPA, CCIFP, CRIS
Partner at Wiss & Company, LLP
Chris makes a difference in all facets of his life. He is a board member of the Community Medical Center Foundation, an officer of the Shore Builders Association and a board member of the New Jersey Builders Association. Chris is also an exam writer for the Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional (CCIFP) Exam. He serves on a variety of scholarship committees and has joined the executive leadership council for the American Heart Association’s “Hard Hats with Heart” initiative. Chris was also a key contributor to the “Support the Trades” initiative with New Jersey high schools.
Peter C. DeSarno, CPA, MBA, MS
Professor & Coordinator of Accounting at Bloomfield College
Long before Peter had full-time tenure at Bloomfield College, he always found time to serve as an adjunct professor despite working long hours. His desire to give back to his students and the profession that he loves is evident in everything he does. His teaching is impactful on many levels — sending powerful messages about the role accountants play as trusted advisors to both his accounting as well as non-accounting students. Outside the classroom, he spends many hours advising and guiding his students and is a member of the NJCPA Pipeline Task Force.
Jeremy I. Kaye, CPA
Audit Senior Manager at Deloitte
Jeremy puts words into action. His volunteer work on the finance and golf committees of Cancer Hope Network led its Board of Directors to select him to chair their inaugural Young Professionals Advisory Committee, which aims to engage young professionals in leveraging their skills, networks and passion to create positive change, raise awareness and provide meaningful support to cancer patients and their families. Jeremy has also served on the NJCPA Student Programs and Scholarship Committee, reviewed scholarship essays and acted as a mentor (one of his mentees went on to start his career at Deloitte and passed the CPA Exam).
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA/ABV/PFS/CFF
Emeritus Partner at WithumSmith+Brown
Ed’s dedication to the accounting profession and passion for seeing others succeed is invigorating and notable. He has demonstrated a commitment to the business community for more than 50 years as an entrepreneur, business advisor and overall economic driver. He is recognized as a top influencer in accounting, a worldwide mentor and a dedicated educator. Ed is a well-recognized thought leader, having authored 30 books and numerous articles, taught 350-plus education courses and mentored countless professionals.
Brad E. Muniz, CPA
Principal at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
Brad makes an impact wherever he goes. His wit, humor and good nature come through in all of his initiatives at the NJCPA from his entertaining, but informative, IssuesWatch accounting and auditing podcast, teaching the New Jersey Law & Ethics program (in which he donates his honorariums) and teaching accounting and auditing classes at the chapter and interest group level. A former NJCPA president, Brad also chairs the NJCPA Education Foundation Executive Committee.
Joseph Pasquino, CPA
Member of the Firm at Smolin, Lupin & Co., LLC.
Joe is an exceptional leader who is extremely committed to developing accounting talent. He has a knack for understanding what type of training each individual would benefit from, working with them one-on-one to develop the needed skills and knowledge. Joe was also instrumental in implementing a series of successful internal training seminars at Smolin that ran over the winter months to get the firm’s staff ready for the next tax season.
Catherine Powers, CPA, PSA
Manager at Cullari Carrico LLC
Described as professional, kind, caring and intelligent, Catherine is the go-to person for anyone that needs a helping hand, whether a colleague or student. She is the vice president of the NJCPA Bergen Chapter, having been active since 2015. Catherine is a prominent supporter of, and a participant in, the NJCPA mentorship program. Outside of accounting, she is active in Cancer Hope Network, which provides peer support for adult cancer patients and their families.
Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA
Retired CEO and Executive Director, NJCPA
Ralph has been awarded just about every business award: The Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey’s Business Award, the NJBIZ Icon Award and many more. His dedication to the accounting profession, the NJCPA, the New Jersey business community and the next generation of accountants is exemplary. Throughout his 23 years as CEO of the Society, Ralph is credited with leading the charge on advocacy, broadening the reach of the Scholarship Fund, having an impact with the New Jersey Legislature and helping to keep the profession diverse.
Shannon L. Daly, CPA/ABV, CFE
Owner at Daly & Company, LLC
Shannon is a self-taught coder who utilizes this skill to create efficiencies for her forensic accounting practice. She wrote VBA/Excel code that automatically categorizes transactions. This automation saves her clients time and money during the recreation of records. She also previously created an iPhone app to assist with alimony calculations, which was accepted to Apple’s app store and was live for two years.
Matthew F. Holman, CPA, PSA
Partner at Holman Frenia Allison, P.C.
One of Matthew’s most remarkable achievements is his visionary expansion of Holman Frenia Allison’s services. Under his leadership, the firm created a division providing outsourced governmental CFO services that has evolved into a comprehensive Client Accounting and Advisory Services Department (CAAS). Matthew also serves as the treasurer of the Monmouth Park Charity Fund, which raises and distributes funds to nonprofit agencies in Monmouth County for health-related services.
WOMAN TO WATCH
Dina DeMarco, CPA
Member of the Firm at Smolin, Lupin & Co., LLC.
Dina is an exceptional leader who is an inspiration to her colleagues, particularly women. She is the leader of Smolin’s accounting and auditing practice and has recently been elected to the firm’s Executive Board as its first female member. She is committed to fostering the careers of other women at Smolin and is actively involved in the firm’s mentoring program. Her strong technical skills combined with her welcoming personality put everyone at ease.
Yetty Handayani, CPA
Manager at Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP
Yetty strives for excellence in everything she does. As a team leader, she creates an atmosphere where members of management are approachable. She is a high-performing manager who embraces and encourages a culture of diversity. Yetty has a strong office presence, and she continually promotes work-life balance and a health-conscious work environment. She has also been a computer coach at the Brooklyn Public Library and provides income tax assistance to the Foodbank for New York City.
Olga Lubomirsky, CPA,MST
Senior Tax Manager at Mazars USA LLP
Olga is committed to excellent client service and helping the next generation of CPAs. She mentors many young professionals and has volunteered for the NJCPA tax call-in program for the past three years. She is an active supporter of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and supports her team as a career coach and professional trainer. Olga is also a member of the NJCPA Federal Taxation Interest Group. She achieved the 2022 Mazars Excellence Award, was selected for the Mazars Women’s Global Leadership Conference 2022, is part of the Women@Mazars Partner Protégé Program 2022 and is Workhuman® Certified.
Lauren A. Naples, CPA, MBA, PSA
Senior Manager at WithumSmith+Brown
Lauren leads WithumSmith+Brown’s Consumer Products and Education groups and actively engages in the firm’s Women of Withum (WoW) employee resource group, hosting networking events and coaching colleagues. Within her community, Lauren serves as a board member and treasurer for The Arc of Monmouth, Inc, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of Monmouth County residents with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Jennifer R. Peoples, CPA
Owner at Jennifer Peoples, CPA
Jennifer has served in nearly every role for the NJCPA including the treasurer of the NJCPA Scholarship Fund, president of the Hudson Chapter and a member of the Finance Committee, Investment Committee and Volunteer Relations Committee. She is currently vice chair of the Committee Operations Committee and a member of the Professional Conduct Committee and the Student Programs & Scholarship Committee. She supports the profession at every level, including interviewing students and reading and grading essays.
Vanessa Santorelli, CPA, MBA
Tax Manager at Grassi
Vanessa is an enthusiastic leader and advocate for the education of Grassi’s Accounting Services Department. She assisted with crafting Grassi’s Recurring Semi-Annual Client Accounting Services Training Program, which provided a centralized in-house educational platform for the entire service line. As a former teacher turned accountant, she uses her background as a strength to provide a foundation for others in their careers. Always looking for the growth of others, Vanessa provides educational training in technical accounting, tax and soft skills.
Karen T. Savage, CPA
Manager at SKC & Co. CPAs, LLC
Karen is extremely knowledgeable and patient — a great combination. She is the ultimate reviewer of all of SKC & Co.’s documents. She has reviewed thousands of tax returns and financial statements and continues to ensure the utmost in quality products. She has run countless in-house seminars on various topics and has spent hundreds of hours training and educating staff on tax and accounting topics. Even in the height of tax season, Karen always makes time to sit with firm members and answer their questions.
Sarah M. Snell, CPA, PSA, PAFM
Chief Operating Officer at Holman Frenia Allison, P.C.
Sarah fosters a culture of participation, growth and support within the accounting profession. She was previously president of the New Jersey Chapter of the CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA) and is currently director of Growth & Membership on CPAFMA’s national Board of Directors. At the NJCPA, she serves on the Student Programs & Scholarship Committee, is a member of the Business & Industry Professionals Interest Group and previously served on the Emerging Leaders Council. She was recognized as a 2018 Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Phenomenal Woman Under 40.
Kristen M. Walters, CPA
Partner at Mazars USA LLP
Kristen is passionate about the retention and advancement of women at Mazars and is a committee member for Women@Mazars. She has focused her talents on the visibility of female leaders both within and outside of the firm and has released two video campaigns focused around female leaders at the firm. Kristen leads the charge on Mazars’ Annual New Jersey Food and Beverage Forum, which is attended by about 150 food and beverage executives annually, and its F&B Outlook Survey released annually.
Danielle C. Weiss, CPA, MBA
Senior Manager at Smolin, Lupin & Co., LLC.
With a passion for accounting, mentoring and learning, Danielle contributes significantly to the firm, community and industry. She serves as a mentor to staff, leading by example. Danielle co-founded and chairs RRBB’s Women’s Forum, providing an open platform for female staff to support each other in their successes and challenges. She serves as the NJCPA Monmouth/Ocean Chapter’s CPE Director and is vice president of the BW NICE Ocean County Chapter, a women’s philanthropic networking group.
NJCPA award recipients: