The New York State Society of CPAs installed Margaret A. Wood, a former airline attendant who became a partner at Grant Thornton, as its new president.

During a speech at the NYSSCPA Annual Election Meeting & Dinner, Wood described how she worked out an arrangement with Fordham University that allowed her to study accounting while flying with TWA. After graduation, she worked for an accounting firm that eventually merged with Deloitte, then worked as an industry accountant for Macy’s and as a controller at the Movado watch company, before eventually returning to public accounting at Grant Thornton.

She joined the NYSSCPA in 1985 and has served on several committees, including chairing the Auditing Standards Committee and Quality Enhancement Policy Committee.
Wood plans to continue the work of her predecessor, David Moynihan, on improving the quality of the profession. Like him, she has been encouraging other CPAs to get licensed in accordance with New York State’s recently approved accountancy reform law. Wood said she also plans to form a statewide committee of young CPAs, reach out to more members in industry, and work on updating the strategy for the society.

“Who do we want to be? Where do we want to go?” she asked.

During the meeting, American Institute of CPAs president and CEO Barry Melancon spoke about some of the challenges facing the profession. He described the effort to get CPA mobility legislation passed in New York State and said he’s confident “we’re going to get there.”

Another major issue is the pending Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. The court is expected to hand down its decision sometime between now and the end of June. Melancon warned that if the appointment of the members of the PCAOB were ruled unconstitutional in the midst of the debate in the Senate over financial regulatory reform, the effect would be “daunting.” He said the AICPA had done some risk planning, taking into account two or three different scenarios.

Melancon noted that both the House and Senate versions of the financial reform legislation exempt CPAs from the Consumer Financial Protection Agency or Bureau. However, he is concerned about an amendment that could expand the liabilities in securities class-action lawsuit cases that investors could bring against third parties, reducing the threshold for the aiding and abetting standards that currently apply. “We are totally opposed to that,” he said. He believes the Senate has 60 votes lined up to oppose the provision, including all Republicans and five or six Democrats.

Also at the dinner, the NYSSCPA posthumously inducted its late president Eli Mason into its CPA Hall of Fame. His widow Claire Mason accepted the award on his behalf. The NYCSSCPA also posthumously inducted outgoing president David Moynihan’s father Bernard into the society. Moynihan described the day his father had received his CPA as one of the happiest in his life, and one that inspired him to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Brian A. Caswell, partner-in-charge of Caswell & Associates in Phoenix, N.Y., received the Arthur J. Dixon Public Service Award. Ronald J. Huefner, a professor of accounting at the State University of New York at Buffalo, received the Distinguished Service Award. Anthony Cassella, CEO of home textiles company J. Queen New York, received the award for Outstanding CPA in Industry. Julanne A. Moses, a senior auditor at the firm of Cotter & Kavanaugh, received a special certificate for being the 100,000th CPA to earn a New York license.

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