A Vietnamese refugee, an executive recruiter, and the only Latina California lottery commissioner were among five recipients of theWomen to Watch Awardsfrom theCalifornia Society of CPAs last Friday.

CalCPA presentedKim Le with its Trailblazer Award, which recognizes an individual with an inspiring story that prompts its own category. The founder and CEO ofA2Q2 inRedwood City, Le is aVietnamrefugee who grew up inMinnesota. Her firm's services include Sarbanes-Oxley compliance initiatives, internal audits and mergers, and acquisitions due diligence and integration.

Le is also heavily involved in community activities, including working withAscend Leadership, a nonprofit organization for Pan-Asian business professionals.

Tapped for the Emerging Leader Award wasKatie McConnell, director of recruitment and development forGallina LLPinRoseville. Besides launching Gallina's executive recruitment service for its clients, McConnell has mentored accounting students at her alma mater,California State University - Sacramento. She regularly speaks at colleges throughout theWestern United Statesabout the accounting profession and recruiting.

Three women received the Experience Leader Award:Jennifer Farr, shareholder and lead managing director at CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C.inIrvine;Bertha Minnihan, a partner with and national practice leader in employee benefit plans forMoss Adams LLPinSan Francisco; andConnie M. Perez, a partner withBrown Armstrong Accountancy Corp.inPasadena.

Farr specializes in providing audit and tax services to charitable organizations, foundations and government agencies. In addition to her duties with CBIZ, she is the chair of the financial review committee of the United Way ofOrange County. In 2013 she started monthly Mission Luncheons, a program at her office in which local nonprofit executives discuss their mission and seek volunteers from the firm's employees.

Minnihan is a recognized authority on employee benefit plans and has frequently spoken about the topic at national and regional conferences. She currently serves as chair of the annual CalCPA Employee Benefit Plans Audit Conference. Minnihan also is an active community volunteer, including currently serving on the finance committee for the Catholic Community Foundation ofSanta Clara Countyand on the advisory committee for the Leavey School of Business atSanta Clara University.

Perez serves on the American Institute of CPAs' National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. She also is the only Latina commissioner on the California State Lottery Commission and is a board member and treasurer for the California Hispanic Chambers ofCommerce.

In 2012, Perez founded the first career day at her former grammar school, Woodville Elementary,Porterville, where 14 speakers shared their stories with students predominantly from the nearby labor camp where her family once lived.

CalCPA selected the experienced and emerging leader recipients in partnership with the AICPA and theAICPA's Women's Initiatives Executive Committee.The Trailblazer Award was presented solely by CalCPA.

Criteria for both the Emerging Leader and Experienced Leader categories included community or public service. Candidates for the Emerging Leader Award also were evaluated on their demonstration of leadership, contributions to the profession, creation and implementation of unique initiatives and involvement with educational institutions.

For more information on the Women to Watch Awards, head to CalCPA's sitehere.