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.
John Dailey, CPA, RMA, PSA
Retired Partner, Consultant at Bowman & Company LLP
Jack’s selfless commitment to propelling the accounting profession forward is unmatched. Whether it’s teaching, authoring revisions on ethics code of conduct or simply lending an ear, Jack is always ready to serve his fellow accountants. As a past president of the NJCPA, a past president of the Southwest Jersey Chapter, a participant in numerous accounting interest groups and committees, as well as an appointed member of the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy, Jack is truly a lifetime leader.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION
Juan Arana, CPA
Accountant at WilkinGuttenplan
As a member of Rider University’s Aspiring Accounting Professional Program (AAPP), Juan assists accounting students of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. Having immigrated to the U.S. from Columbia at age 10, Juan knows first-hand how to mentor students and prepare them for interviews, which has led to job opportunities at WilkinGuttenplan. He also provides free QuickBooks Online consulting services to minority-owned businesses.
Laura Crowley, CPA, MBA
Director at Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP
A leader in diversity, equity and inclusion, Laura co-founded Citrin Cooperman’s Empowering Diversity and Gender Equality committee in late 2019 and has worked to bring awareness and culture change to the firm through educational programs, panel discussions, newsletters and other activities. Launching a firmwide diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program at the beginning of a pandemic was a challenge; however, Laura partnered with the firm’s corporate learning and development team to provide firm-wide diversity training to all employees.
Chief Human Resources Officer at PKF O'Connor Davies, LLP
As PKF O’Connor Davies’ champion of diversity and inclusion, Dawn acts as a mentor to all. Her monthly heritage and cultural celebrations initiative and her implementation of DEI training programs have created a work environment that is welcoming and encouraging to all employees. Dawn also participates on a nonprofit board that serves underrepresented communities.
Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at KPMG LLP
Elena leads KPMG’s national Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) team and works closely with management and the board of directors to advance the firm’s Accelerate 2025 initiative. She is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC). Elena also has served as an Advisory Board Member for Howard University’s Center for Accounting Education and is a member of the American Institute of CPAs’ National Diversity & Pipeline Commission.
Tannisha Troutman, CPA
Audit & Assurance Senior Manager at Deloitte
A born leader, Tannisha works tirelessly to develop the next generation of CPAs and co-leads Deloitte’s Talent Council. She has won the Deloitte Pacesetter Award, been a Rising Star Nominee and participates in its NJ Inclusion Council and National D&I Management Development Program. She promotes diversity in the community as well, serving at Good Shepherd Services, the Harlem YMCA and Junior Achievement of New Jersey.
Carly Brancato, CPA
Senior Auditor at WilkinGuttenplan
Carly is a leader in the making. She is a mentor for new hires and interns on auditing and is a buddy to younger staff going through their first year. Carly is also a mentee to a college student through the NJCPA mentor program. She is an active member of the firm’s selective Advisory Council and part of the firm’s Future Council group, where she participates in discussions on how to steer emerging leaders’ careers.
Sofia Cordero, CPA
Manager - Transportation & Logistics at Mazars USA LLP
Sofia cultivates productive team environments by keeping peers engaged and motivated. She is a member of the NJCPA Emerging Leaders Council and Student Programs and Scholarship Committee. At Mazars, she is an internal coach for a participant of the Mazars Transformational Leadership Program and is member of the Women@Mazars Committee.
Jake Dericks, CPA,MPAc
Senior Associate at Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP
As a key member of the audit team, Jake has become a go-to resource for many of the staff on matters of accounting and auditing. A born leader, Jake helps to develop and lead training for new hires and interns. He is also known as a key problem solver when it comes to accounting software, helping to routinely train staff and troubleshoot.
Larissa Hoffmann, CPA
Audit Senior at Deloitte
Larissa leads by example. She runs the NJCPA Career Awareness program for the Deloitte office and is a key liaison for Deloitte with the NJCPA. An outstanding and consistent top performer, Larissa is well respected by her C-suite clients and takes on increasingly difficult conversations and/or meetings with top client management. She is expected to be a future leader in the accounting profession.
Joseph Hunt, CPA, MBA
Audit Senior at SobelCo
Joe is not only passionate about his work, but he truly cares about his clients as well as staff. He is a forward thinker and is always looking for ways to enhance audit processes and growth areas for the firm. He is not only skilled technically, but he is also involved in business development. In addition, Joe radiates positivity, which is an important quality of a leader.
Rudy Ipekcian, CPA
Tax Manager at BDO USA, LLP
As one of the youngest tax managers at his firm, Rudy has the respect and admiration of his colleagues. He is the president of the NJCPA Passaic County Chapter and has done a tremendous job guiding the chapter through the current uncertain climate. Rudy’s work ethic and dedication is contagious to all who know him.
Robert Slootmaker, CPA
Assurance Principal at Untracht Early LLC
Robert’s quiet-yet-commanding, calm-yet-persistent, nature is what makes him a natural-born leader. His passion for new ideas helps drive his firm, the profession and his community forward. His drive to push not only himself but the firm and his commitment to giving back to his community are the hallmarks of what make Robert a consummate accounting professional.
Christina White, CPA, MS
Manager at Traphagen CPAs & Wealth Advisors
Christina has assumed a greater level of responsibility at her firm with training, mentoring and supervising associates, while managing and coordinating accounting functions, state tax nexus and taxation in New York. Always giving back, she participates on the NJCPA Bergen Chapter Scholarship Committee and with the NJCPA CPA Career Awareness Program.
George Romeo, Ph.D
Associate Professor at Rowan University
George has been an accounting professor at Rowan University (formerly Glassboro State) since 1979. During his 42 years, his commitment to teaching excellence has touched the lives of thousands of students and launched a variety of successful careers — many of his former students are now practicing CPAs. He has won the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award and multiple Professor of the Year and Wall of Fame Awards.
Marshall Saunders, CPA, MBA
Marshall has left his mark on both academia and the accounting profession. He cares about his students and is always open and eager to help them, including taking a position as faculty advisor to the Beta Alpha Psi honor society. He is also an adjunct professor at Rockland Community College-SUNY. Marshall has been active at the NJCPA and is a past president of the Passaic County Chapter.
Douglas Stives, CPA, MBA
Specialist Professor at Monmouth University
Truly a legend, Doug is known for his ability to break down complicated tax material into understandable terms. Having been quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, CNN and other media outlets, Doug is well known in the accounting industry. At the NJCPA, he is admired for becoming president at the age of 42, being chair of the Monmouth/Ocean Chapter and teaching CPE programs.
Ron West, CPA, J.D., LLM, CFP
Accounting, Tax & Law - Department Chairperson at Fairleigh Dickinson University - Madison
Admired both in and out of the classroom, Ron knows the value of integrating education with the accounting profession. With a background in law and accounting, Ron brings real-world experiences to his teaching. He oversees off-campus satellite programs that have experienced tremendous growth, and he has helped design and launch a Wealth Management Advisory minor and Financial Planning concentration. Ron is a member of the NJCPA Student Programs & Scholarships Committee.
Meggan Ciaccia, CPA, MBA
President at Ciaccia CPA
Meggan is all about making a difference. Several years ago, she took a more active role in inspiring others in accounting, particularly female professionals. Currently as president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), she regularly empowers female business owners. She also volunteers her time at her local elementary school, where she encourages girls to do anything they set their mind to.
Reynold Cicalese, CPA, MST
Associate Partner at Alloy, Silverstein, Shapiro, Adams, Mulford, Cicalese, Wilson & Co.
Ren is an unwavering leader both in the workplace and community. He played an essential role in helping businesses stay afloat during the pandemic and presented four sold-out webinars to more than 350 business owners. He received the Voice of Business Young Professional Award in 2020 from the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce. Ren is a board member for the Cooperative Business Assistance Corporation and a director of the NJCPA Southwest Jersey Chapter.
Vincent Galluccio, CPA
Managing Director at Deloitte
A staunch supporter of growing the CPA pipeline and fostering the development of the next generation of CPAs, Vincent truly leads by example. He takes an active and personal approach to retaining top talent at Deloitte, understanding that people are critical to a company’s success. He has been the firm’s CPA Champion in New Jersey for years, and his support for CPA Exam takers is noteworthy.
Kenneth Pogrob, CPA
Partner at Mazars USA LLP
Ken is all about giving back. As chair of the #WeAreMazars Committee for the past 10 years, he has made a significant impact on the community through Mazars' many charitable efforts. Aside from bringing all firm partners and staff together internally, Ken leads the firm’s philanthropic endeavors. He has also been involved in the NJCPA Student Programs & Scholarships Committee for more than 10 years.
Chris Schiffer, CPA, CFP, M.B.A., AIF
Senior Vice President at Wealth Enhancement Group
Chris is a point person for business and industry professionals at the NJCPA. As the leader of the Business & Industry Professionals Interest Group and former head of the B&I Task Force, Chris is well versed in what’s needed to keep accounting professionals thriving in business. Chris brings more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, including his time spent as a past president of the Middlesex/Somerset Chapter, to his leadership role at the NJCPA.
Deputy Director at State of New Jersey - Division of Taxation
Marita has been invaluable to the NJCPA and its members during the COVID-19 pandemic, going above and beyond to keep Society staff and practitioners informed about tax filings and payment and policy changes made by the New Jersey Division of Taxation. A subject matter expert on tax investigations, compliance and enforcement, Marita understands the importance of discussing issues stakeholder to stakeholder.
Robert Valas, CPA/ABV, CVA, CFE, CGMA
Partner at Cullari Carrico LLC
Robert knows the true meaning of making an impact. He was the principal drafter of three comment letters to standard setters. As an active member of the NJCPA Accounting and Auditing Standards Interest Group and the leader of the American Institute of CPAs' Auditing Standards Work Group, he informs accounting professionals about important auditing standards.
Joseph Wisniewski, CPA
Partner at Premier Accounting Services, PC
Joe has frequently been cited as one of the main reasons why students have gone on to pursue an accounting career. For the past 12 years, Joe has volunteered to talk to high school accounting classes. His passion and enthusiasm for the accounting profession along with his career insight are greatly appreciated by the students.
Thomas Hasard, CISSP
IT Services Manager at WilkinGuttenplan
Not only is Tom the cybersecurity leader at WilkinGuttenplan, he participates in Lean Six Sigma initiatives to improve professional services processes and manages the IT managed service business with a state-of-the-art workflow feedback system. He also leads the firm’s Innovation Council. Over this past year, Tom has been the firm’s MVP, successfully transitioning to a fully remote platform.
Alisha Jernack, CPA
Partner at Mazars USA LLP
Alisha led Mazars’ COVID-19 business advisory team and new service offering, the “Reshape Crisis Recovery Program.” It was such a success that ABC7 NY filmed Alisha and her client for a feature segment on how working with the right business advisor helped them survive a year of the pandemic. She is also active in the NJCPA Ocean/Monmouth Chapter, Student Programs & Scholarships Committee and served a four-year term as a student mentor.
Ethan Kinory, Ph.D
Assistant Professor at Rutgers University- Camden
A true innovator, Dr. Kinory has co-authored several academic papers on leading-edge technologies that have been published in the American Accounting Association’s (AAA) Journal of Emerging Technologies. He has presented at national AAA conferences on blockchain and has integrated it into his coursework. He received a National Research Award on blockchain in 2020 and the AICPA National Educator Award in 2019.
Jaime Rapps, CPA
Audit Senior Manager at Grassi
Despite working in an industry that is often hesitant to make costly upgrades in technology, Jaime helps his nonprofit clients with cost benefit analyses and implementation strategies that help them make confident decisions and realize optimal ROI from their technology. He also helps clients measure and monitor their ongoing performance and digital resources through KPIs, benchmarking and technology assessments.
Maria Rollins, CPA
Managing Partner at KRS CPAs, LLC
Innovating on the fly has come natural to Maria. From putting a flexible work program in place and her forward-looking approach to HR to successfully serving clients remotely, she’s earned a spot on ROI-NJ’s Influencers Power List for the past three years and was named a 2021 Leader in Finance by NJBIZ. Under Maria’s leadership, KRS has been named to the NJBIZ Best Places to Work in NJ and the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For — Top 101 in the Nation.
Xin Yuan, CPA
Audit Senior Manager at Ernst & Young LLP
Due to Eric’s innovative use of analytics, he was tasked with transitioning the EY audit program to a digital-first approach, helping to become the basis for the EY Digital Global Accounting Methodology (Digital GAM) that is used globally. He led a team in developing analytical templates to present data in new ways and drive results for clients. As a leader, Eric is always looking to push the boundaries of conventional thinking.
WOMAN TO WATCH
Ashley Ackerman, CPA
Senior Manager at Holman Frenia Allison, P.C.
Truly a woman to watch, Ashley is extremely motivated. Within one year of joining her firm in 2019, she was promoted to senior manager, grew her network from nothing, brought in clients including one from across the country, and took over as director of quality control. She is also an adjunct professor at Kean University, a board member of Coastal Habitat for Humanity and an NJCPA mentor.
Avani Bharucha, CPA, MBA
Associate Partner at Baratz & Associates, P.A.
A role model to many, Avani was promoted to associate partner in 2020 — the first female partner in the history of her firm. Avani is a first-generation immigrant who moved to the U.S. from India in her teens and who was not a native English speaker. Her accomplishments have inspired staff members and also promoted an increased awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Kathleen Bloch, CPA, M.B.A.
CFO at CytoSorbents, Inc.
Kathy has been a top financial executive for more than 20 years, having both public and private company experience. She has been the CFO at CytoSorbents since 2013 and previously held COO and CFO titles at a variety of organizations dating back to 1999. In 2016, she won the NJBIZ Public Company CFO of the Year Award. She is credited with spearheading CytoSorbents’ up-listing to NASDAQ and ensuring ongoing compliance.
Tanya Dunbar, CPA
Director at EisnerAmper LLP
Under Tanya’s purview, she re-established the robustness of the quality monitoring program at EisnerAmper, with a focus on both internal and external stakeholders including the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), AICPA and the Department of Labor. She also serves on the Women of EisnerAmper Steering Committee (New Jersey Chapter) and its Diversity & Inclusion Council and is co-chair of the Black Employee Network Employee Resource Group.
Melissa O'Shea, CPA
Partner at SAX LLP
Missy is a true woman to watch, not just because she is a leading female in her field and an important role model, but also because she facilitates training of younger members. She made partner at age 31, is a member of Sax’s Leadership Advisory and A&A Quality Control committees, is vice president of the Surety Association of New Jersey and was a NJCPA 30 Under 30 award winner.
Stacy Palmer, CPA
Tax Principal at Untracht Early LLC
Stacy is a leader to watch as well as a woman to watch. As a tax principal at Untract Early, she focuses on corporate as well as individual tax compliance. She also has served as an adjunct accounting professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In 2019, she completed the Emerging Leaders program of Upstream Academy, which assists companies in meeting future business challenges. She has been a director of the NJCPA Morris/Sussex Chapter since 2016.
Melissa Sciarrillo, CPA
Audit Manager at Ernst & Young LLP
Melissa is passionate about women having a seat at the table. She leads the EY Professional Women’s Network in New Jersey, having been its chair for the past 10 years and a member for 17. Melissa has also led the New Jersey chapter of EY’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women, a program aimed at helping women business owners, and she has mentored women through EY Mentor Connect. She also supports and mentors K-12 students in developing digital literacy.
Hayley Shulman, CPA
Senior Manager at WithumSmith+Brown
Hayley was the sole recipient of Withum’s firm-wide 2020 Emerging Leader II Strength Award, which recognizes those who exhibit the characteristics of a future leader. As a subject matter expert in the healthcare and nonprofit tax spaces, her technical competence has earned her the utmost respect from her colleagues and clients alike. She also served as an NJCPA mentor and a scholarship interviewer.
Catherine Syslo, CPA
Director, Quality Control at CohnReznick LLP
Cathy truly makes a difference at the NJCPA. She is a past leader of the NJCPA Nonprofit Interest Group and is the current chairperson of the NJCPA Nonprofit Conference. Cathy also serves on the NJCPA Student Programs & Scholarship Committee and Accounting & Auditing Interest Group. Her dedication to the NJCPA runs deep, always looking for ways to present educational opportunities for members. She was also an NJCPA Volunteer Award recipient.
NJCPA award recipients: