AICPA names 2020 Outstanding Young CPA Award recipient

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The American Institute of CPAs has named Joseph Rugger, accounting director and profit consultant at Tooth & Coin in Little Rock, Arkansas, the recipient of the 2020 AICPA Outstanding Young CPA Award. The award is in honor of Maximo Mukelabai, recognizing his contributions to the profession and leadership of other young CPAs. It was presented to Rugger on Wednesday during a Facebook Live session.

Now in its ninth year, the annual award recognizes a CPA under the age of 41 who "personifies a commitment to the profession as demonstrated through successful practices and involvement in and contributions to the interest of the accounting profession," according to the AICPA. The award honors the legacy of Mukelabai, a member of the inaugural class of the AICPA Leadership Academy and the youngest chair of the North Carolina Association of CPAs board of directors, who passed away at age 36.

Rugger is a 2013 graduate of the AICPA Leadership Academy and served on the EDGE Conference Planning Committee and AICPA Young Member Leadership Committee from 2014-2018. He is an active member of the Arkansas CPA Society, serving on the society’s board of directors since 2015, and will serve as the society’s youngest chair starting in 2021. In 2019, he also served as the chair of the Arkansas CPA Society’s inaugural Leadership Academy Program. Rugger also hosts a weekly radio talk show, “Get in the Financial Know with Joe,” in Little Rock, in which he discusses personal finance topics via call-in and emailed questions.

“Since I was young, my parents ingrained in me the value of serving my community, and I’ve carried that with me whether it’s through my church, neighborhood, Boy Scouts or the accounting profession,” said Rugger in a statement. “I know a lot of people have invested their time and energy in helping me grow professionally, and I want to give back to the younger generations of CPAs.”

“Joseph has not only been a vital contributor to the Arkansas CPA Society, he has worked to raise awareness of accounting and personal finance principles among the general public through his radio show," said Susan Coffey, AICPA executive vice president of public practice, in a statement. "And he has shared his time and expertise to help other young CPAs grow and develop within the profession. Joseph embodies the values held by Maximo Mukelabai, and bestowing the 2020 AICPA Outstanding Young CPA Award upon him is a tribute to his legacy.”

Qualifications for the Outstanding Young CPA Award include:

  • Holding the CPA license and being between the ages of 22 and 40;
  • Encouraging students to pursue a career in accounting;
  • Volunteering in activities that advance the accounting profession; and
  • Participating in community-based organizations that improve people’s lives.

Candidates for the award submitted applications and details on their volunteer history, alongside professional reference forms from peers, employers and state CPA societies. A task force of young CPAs then reviews all the qualified nominees to determine a winner.

More information on the award is available on the AICPA's site here.

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