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RISCPA President's Message May 2020

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May 6, 2020

Dear Members:

As we begin our fiscal year in uncharted territory, RISCPA is committed to helping our members face the challenges brought on by COVID-19 pandemic with an unprecedented level of support. We have transitioned our focus to help you navigate this crisis and are working harder than ever to provide you with timely information, critical resources and guidance for you and your clients. We will continue updating our website and publish newsletters daily through the duration of the crisis. Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you need anything; everything we do is about helping our members-we will get through this together.

For the first time in our history, RISCPA’S annual year end meeting was held virtually. The April 21st meeting included a recap of the prior year, a vote to approve proposed by-law changes and the transition of leadership including the installation of a new Chair, Marianne Caserta, new officers and members to the Board of Directors. We are thankful so many joined the virtual meeting and grateful for the continued support despite the COVID-19 impacts so many of you are dealing with.

2020-21 Executive Committee and Board of Directors

This past year established RISCPA as one of the most formidable and powerful organizations in Rhode Island. A great deal of that success is thanks to the extraordinary effort and support of RISCPA’s Board of Directors; their leadership and commitment to RISCPA are inspiring; it is an honor to work with each of them.

Executive Committee Members:

Chair, Marianne Caserta, Carousel Industries, Chair-elect, Erica Guatieri, EHG, LLC, Vice-Chair Dan Bonnette, RSM US LLP, Treasurer, Ed Yazbak, Yazbak & Company, Ltd., Secretary, Michele Forcino, Michele L. Forcino, CPA, Past Chair, John Ayers, Morgan Stanley.

Returning board members:

David W. Almonte, AMICA Mutual Life Insurance Company, Christine A. Cannata, RI Community Food Bank, Karen G. DelPonte, Cameron & Mittleman LLP, Joseph P Goldberg, RSM US LLP, Brendan E. McCorry, Ernst & Young LLP

New board members:

  • Stuart Benton, President/CEO, The Original Bradford Soap Works, Inc.
  • David Fontaine, Partner, Marcum LLP

Special thank you – John Ayers

RISCPA is a stronger organization today because of the vision and leadership of outgoing Chair John Ayers. John was the 103rd Chair to serve on the RISCPA board and has been active with the Society for many years. At our first meeting, he laid out an aggressive list of what he wanted to accomplish during his tenure, which was the equivalent of transforming the organization. His enthusiasm and innovative approach to change were appealing and made it easy to see the potential. I knew at that meeting taking the helm was the right move – for everyone – it has been quite the ride! John’s tenacity and drive inspired each of us to think outside the box; he led by example with his tireless work ethic. On behalf of RISCPA and our board of directors, thank you for leaving an indelible mark that has transformed every aspect of the organization.
Thank you to departing board member David Krekorian, David Krekorian, CPA, who unselfishly gave of his time and provided support and assistance to RISCPA and our members for so many years. Thank you for your dedication and service – you will be missed!

Finally, RISCPA owes a debt of gratitude to our departing Past Chair, David Lucier, Lucier CPA, who I have worked with and respected for as long as I can remember. David has been a fixture in the organization, with more than 10 years serving on the board and leading us through a critical transition period last year. David received well deserved recognition over the years including the Society’s first ever Commodore Award in 2019 for his commitment to the organization. He coined “RISCPA 2.0” and was the marketing genius behind the naming of “RI Business Forum”; it will not be the same without you.

SCHOLARSHIP AWARD WINNERS- RISCPA is proud to support students pursuing careers in the accounting profession in Rhode Island. Please join me in congratulating each of these accomplished individuals for achieving a significant milestone:

  • CHRISTIANSEN SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS: This fund is for college students who hope to join the public accounting profession:
    • Paul McAndrew, University of Notre Dame
    • Angelica Provost, Bryant University
    • Alyssa Simas, University of Rhode Island
  • RUGGIERO SCHOLARSHIP AWARD: Established in 2005 in memory of the late Cheryl A. Ruggiero, CPA, this fund assists female college students who hope to join the public accounting profession This year’s recipient is Callie Jackson, University of Rhode Island.
  • BRIAN A. ALTOMARI SCHOLARSHIP FUND: Established in 2018 by the RI Foundation, this scholarship is intended for a student attending or planning to enroll in an accredited college or university in Rhode Island who plans to major in accounting. This year’s recipient is Alyssa Simas, University of Rhode Island.

Newly Certified CPAs

RISCPA congratulates our newest CPA members who have passed the CPA exam and earned their accreditation - congratulations and welcome to the following:

Ryan Kowal, blumshapiro, Jennisie Nadeau, blumshapiro, Yusheng Ding, Bryant University, Joanna Presciutti, Carl Weinberg & Co., Bryon Cieciorka, CVS Health, Lauren Smith, CVS Health, Victoria (DiBlasi) Howard, DiSanto Priest, Kevin Bradley, Ernst & Young, Steven Shushtari, Ernst & Young, Matthew Hunt, FM Global, Elvira Lawlor, Gray, Gray & Gray, Deborah Bingell, KLR, Rebekah Aubin, KLR, Rebecca Nunez, KPMG, Charles McKeeman, KPMG, Alexander Devine, KPMG, Justin Welker, Marcum LLP, Damion Cogle, Marcum LLP, Hartford, CT, Regina Fontalvo, MedQuest Associates, Alan Ferrara, PKF O'Connor Davies, David Hill III, Restivo Monacelli, Olusegun Olofinlade, RI Division of Taxation, Kyle Schmidt, RSI, Heather Satterley, Satterley Training & Consulting, Gerald Sena, Sena Accounting, Amanda Joyce, Nicholas Lindgren, Michelle Voyer, XCM Solutions, Shepard Shaemus, RI Office of Management & Budget

Year End Highlights - notable achievements:

  • First state society in the U.S. to apply for and receive a workforce training grant (RealJobs RI partnership known as “Accounting & Financial Collaborative”).
  • RI Business Forum- RISCPA launched the state’s first ever multi-industry platform which included sold-out events and new industry partnerships.
  • An exciting new CPE platform featuring new vendors, multi-state CPE partnerships with new virtual training, live webcasts and exciting interactive conferences.
  • RISCPA partnered with Rhode Island’s US Small Business Administration District Office to host the 2020 Rhode Island SBA Small Business Summit in January and 2020 SBA Small Business Week Awards Luncheon and events; upcoming events are temporarily on hold.
  • RI Business Forum Webcast Series launched in April featuring Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation Town Hall with RIMA and a special employer event with EANE and Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training Assistant Director Matt Weldon.
  • Expanded social media platform – RISCPA now enjoys a robust social media platform with thousands of followers and newly launched Google Business and RI Business Forum pages.

Advocacy for members remains a key focus and prior to the recess of the General Assembly, RISCPA was successful on multiple fronts including new legislation on the penalty rate of interest (HB7666) and estate tax exemption increase (HB8002). Both were submitted by Representative Robert Phillips, Deputy Majority Leader and ardent supporter of the business community; RISCPA is grateful for his continued efforts on behalf of our members and Rhode Island business owners.

I’d be remiss if I did not express our thanks to the team at US Small Business Administration Rhode Island office – District Director Mark Hayward, Deputy District Director, Joan Moran, Lead Economic Specialist Matthew Spoehr and their staff for the unwavering commitment to help RISCPA members and their clients with every aspect of the EIDL and PPP programs. The extraordinary support they have provided to the Rhode Island business community will have a profound impact on our recovery and we are honored to work with each of you.

Finally, thank you to our RISPCPA team- Maggie Lague, Kerry Angilly and Melanie Lanni, for their willingness to pivot and transition their roles to support our members for the duration of the crisis; I am proud of our efforts.

It not business as usual for any of us – we remain committed to serve you and I am confident we will get through this together.

Melissa

“Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to our eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become." Brooke Foss Westcott

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