CEO Compass - Spring 2022

by Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA | NJCPA CEO and Executive Director | April 6, 2022

It's time to take stock, reconnect and find the way forward

It's been two years since the pandemic gripped our world, but with spring upon us, we’re seeing glimmers of hope. In New Jersey, the public health emergency has ended, the mask mandates in our schools have disappeared and a constant sense of foreboding about the pandemic has been lifted enough that we can look forward to events with our family and friends. While many challenges must still be met by our state, nation and world, it’s important to reconnect with one another in meaningful ways.

This is why it’s a good time to bring up our NJCPA Convention & Expo — this year’s theme is “The Way Forward: Transform. Innovate. Grow.” We are excited to be back at the Borgata in Atlantic City, June 14-17. The Convention has always been THE forum for bringing you and your colleagues together and providing access to top-notch leadership training, up-to-the-minute professional information and networking opportunities — all in all a fun, relaxed environment. 

We want you to join us and are excited to tell you about our featured speakers:

  • Susan O’Malley, the first female president of a professional sports franchise, will share leadership and life lessons.
  • Jim Bourke, director of firm technology and managing director of advisory services at Withum, will address the transformation of the profession.
  • Dr. Kecia Williams Smith, director of the Master of Accountancy program at North Carolina A&T State University, will talk about how we can move forward together.
  • Donny Shimamoto, founder of IntrapriseTechKnowlogies, will show us how to craft an accounting innovation strategy.
  • Gene Marks, columnist, author and owner of the Marks Group, will share strategies and actions to increase profitability.
  • G. Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., will provide a national economic outlook.

The NJCPA itself is embracing the way forward as we look at where we are as an organization, the issues facing the profession and how we can best serve you. 

As I’ve mentioned previously, the profession has a pipeline problem. The NJCPA Board of Trustees is addressing this challenge by exploring a new membership category for graduates as they embark on their careers before passing the CPA Exam and becoming licensed. This new category would serve as a bridge between student membership and full CPA membership, enabling graduates and young professionals to learn and network with more experienced peers while advancing their careers.

By allowing graduates and young professionals to maintain their membership in the Society at a low cost (free the first year for graduating students), those individuals will remain plugged into the profession and continue to learn about the benefits of the CPA credential for as long as it takes (the average age of successful CPA Exam candidates is 29). We’ll share more information about this new category at the Convention and over the following months leading up to a bylaws vote in October.

The last two years of our lives have commonly been referred to as a “collective trauma.”  Moving forward after any trauma depends in large part on both feeling heard and sharing common experiences. The NJCPA was created for some of those same reasons nearly 125 years ago — to make our members stronger, personally and professionally. We want you to leverage the full advantage of NJCPA membership, develop your professional skills and help you do your job better. So, stay connected. As always, please let us know your thoughts at

Ralph Albert Thomas

Ralph Albert Thomas

Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA, is the CEO and executive director of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. He is a former national and chapter president of the National Association of Black Accountants, was chair of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s State Society Relations Committee and is a member of the accounting advisory boards of Lehigh, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Montclair State, Felician and Thomas Edison universities and Middlesex County College.

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