San Francisco-based accounting firm Hood & Strong LLP has elected Susan N. Malone as managing partner, the first woman to lead the firm in its 101-year history.

Starting Friday, Malone will be succeeding Robert J. Raffo, who has led the firm for more than a decade. Malone will be the eighth managing partner at the firm, but the first female MP. She has worked at the firm for more than 25 years servicing clients in various sectors, including higher education, manufacturing, arts and culture, and philanthropy.

“I am honored to become managing partner,” Malone said in a statement. “I am committed to building on the firm’s 100-year legacy by continuing our commitment to excellent client service, giving back to our communities, and supporting and developing the next generation of firm leaders.”

Hood & Strong managing partner Susan Malone
Hood & Strong managing partner Susan Malone Courtesy of Hood & Strong

Malone is the latest woman to lead a CPA firm. Until recent years, a female managing partner or CEO at a major CPA firm has been a rarity. In 2015, two of the Big Four firms announced female CEOs: Cathy Engelbert at Deloitte and Lynne Doughtie at KPMG. Last December, Ernst & Young appointed Kelly Grier as U.S. chairman and managing partner-elect, and she is set to take the position at the end of this year when the current MP, Steve Howe, retires. A boutique CPA firm, Perelson Weiner LLP, announced a female CEO, Lynne Born, in February. And earlier this month, Cherry Bekaert installed Michelle Thompson as its new managing partner and CEO, the Top 100 Firm first female chief executive. Prior to them, Krista McMaster was one of the few female heads of major firms, becoming CEO of Clifton Gunderson in 2009 before it merged with LarsonAllen in 2011, where she spent some time as co-CEO of CliftonLarsonAllen before departing in 2013. According to a 2017 CPA Firm Gender Study from the American Institute of CPAs, less than one-quarter of the partnership ranks of the firms surveyed were made up of women.

Hood & Strong has made a significant effort to hire and promote women, the firm noted. Women make up nearly half of its partners and directors, and 60 percent of its employees. The firm claims to have one of the narrowest gender gaps in the industry. The firm’s business philosophy stresses a commitment to diversity, including a workplace culture that enables women to advance their careers in accounting by providing options for flexible schedules and telecommuting.

Hood & Strong was founded in 1917 and has offices in San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo and Petaluma, California. It has a team of 19 partners and directors and more than 100 staff members. Hood & Strong is part of the RSM US Alliance of independently owned public accounting firms.

The firm’s outgoing managing partner, Robert Raffo, welcomed his successor. “As the firm enters its second century, this transition demonstrates the partners’ commitment to the ongoing success and vitality of Hood & Strong,” he said in a statement. “Susan has a clear vision for the future of the firm, and has played an integral role in shaping the culture of Hood & Strong.”

As part of the firm’s succession plan and in accordance with its partnership agreement, Raffo will return to a partner role, while continuing to serve on Hood & Strong’s board. He has worked at the firm for more than 40 years.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.