The American Institute of CPAs kicked off its three-day Spring Meeting of Council with a series of briefings and updates to prepare for Capitol Hill visits in which legislative aides will learn about the issues most important to the accounting community.

On Sunday afternoon, AICPA chairman Ernie Almonte (pictured) delivered his opening remarks, welcoming council members along with a young Eagle Scout who hopes to become a CPA. Almonte also discussed the difficult economy and reminded members of the resources the Institute has provided to address the recession.

“As a CPA in government, I firmly believe any sound solution will require the insights of the CPAs in this room,” said Almonte, who is Rhode Island’s Auditor General. “We are the men and women who help small and large businesses understand their finances and make decisions.”

Three awards were handed out a short while later. Beverly Nichols received an individual public service award for her volunteer work in helping New Orleans-area students cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, among other activities. JPMS Cox won a firm-wide public service award for its collective work in assisting schools and nonprofits in Arkansas.

Ira Solomon, head of the accountancy department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, received the 2009 AICPA Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award.

A guest speaker, David Gergen, editor-at-large of U.S. News & World Report, talked about the first 100 days of the Obama administration and how other presidents have fared in office.

Following his remarks, AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon moderated a roundtable discussion of financial regulation reform with three other AICPA officials: Susan Coffey, senior vice president of member quality and international affairs; Richard Miller, general counsel and secretary; and Mark Peterson, vice president of congressional and political affairs. They discussed some of the talking points that AICPA members are expected to raise with congressional aides, including the regulation of broker-dealers, hedge funds, investment advisors and financial custodians.

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