Over the past decade, I have not dedicated a lot of space in this column to the undertakings of the various state societies, save to weigh in on scattered initiatives and lob several "nobody asked me but"...opinions out to our online audience.

But in what many readers will consider a refreshing change of pace from lambasting the current White House administration, I felt that hailing from, and working out of, New York, I should at least address the changing of the executive guard at the New York State Society of CPAs and hopefully, offer some encouragement to get them moving forward and upward, much like the state motto in today's headline - Excelsior.

As was reported on WebCPA two weeks ago and is fairly common knowledge now, long-time executive director Lou Grumet resigned after 12 years at the helm of the 28,000-member organization and was succeeded by deputy executive director and veteran insider Joanne Barry.

On the positive side, Grumet used his political savvy honed by years in Albany in the administration of former Governor Mario Cuomo and later as executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, to help push through the Accountancy Reform Act in 2008 and call for higher scrutiny in school district audits. Grumet was a leading proponent of CPA mobility, helped found the Trusted Professional newspaper and was a mainstay on Accounting Today's Top 100 Most Influential list.

 

Conversely, the society under his aegis was stagnant in such critical areas as technology, financial literacy or Gen Y CPAs in comparison to a number of far more progressive state groups including the one just across the river.

In addition, the NYSSCPA demonstrated an almost comical inability to run its annual show, evidenced by plunging attendance rates and scores of "no thanks" from major vendors when it came to sponsoring exhibit booths.

When Eli Mason, the "conscience of the profession" and a past NYSSCPA president, passed away last August, the society was unable in one week's time to dredge up even a canned quote. By comparison, the AICPA, often the target of Mason's printed and verbal diatribes, submitted one in less than 20 minutes.

With new leadership, it's time for the storied 113-year old organization to realize that you cannot run an organization in 2010 the same way you did in 1975. It's not your father's accounting firm and by proxy, it's not your father's state society either.

New York is, inarguably, the heart of the accounting world. The Big Four as well as many of the major firms are here. The state society should, at a minimum, reflect that focus.

Excelsior!

 

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