Let's be real: women have always been trailblazers when it comes to their careers because they've had to be. Still, even as we usher in 2009, acknowledgement has not always been given to those deserving. The California Society of CPAs [CalCPA) reminds us of the importance of honoring those in the profession with added spark.

At its Women to Watch Awards earlier this month in Los Angeles, which was part of the organization's Women's Leadership Forum, five women were recognized for making significant contributions to the accounting profession and for demonstrating characteristics that enable them to become leaders in the profession.

B. Marie Ebersbacher CPA and a shareholder in the Bakersfield office of Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C. (left) is certified as a fraud examiner and in financial forensics. She organizes her firm's participation in Volkslauf, a 10k mud run for charity held in Bakersfield. With her is Andrea Cope CPA, who was on the Women's Leadership Forum awards selection committee.

Kristine Caratan, a partner at Moss Adams LLP in San Francisco; Geralyne Mahoney, a partner in the San Francisco firm of Burr, Pilger & Mayer LLP; and Kristine Stromeyer, a principal in the Beverly Hills firm of Rothstein Kass & Co. P.C. were named experienced leader recipients. B. Marie Ebersbacher, a shareholder in the Bakersfield office of Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C. and Natalie Quan, an audit manager at the San Jose firm of Berger/Lewis Accountancy Corp. were honored as emerging leaders.

Kristine Caratan CPA (right), a partner with Moss Adams, is a member of the national board of directors for Beta Alpha Psi, the fraternity for accounting students. With her is Maryellen Sebold CPA and Women's Leadership Forum event chair.

"These women are role models, especially for students who can see how the achievements of these women are helping to change the accounting profession and improve society," said Loretta Doon, CPA and the chief executive of CalCPA.

The Women's Leadership Forum hosted 250 women CPAs at the Wilshire Grand in Los Angeles and offered sessions focusing on work/life balance, leadership, increased visibility and business communication. The awards ceremony took place at lunch. A 2009 forum in San Francisco is already in the works.

Geralyne Mahoney CPA (left) a partner at Burr, Pilger & Mayer LLP started her firm's nonprofit services practice and served as president of the Financial Women's Association of San Francisco. She stands with Andrea Cope CPA, a member of the CalCPA awards selection committee and fellow comrade at Burr, Pilger & Mayer.Kristine Stromeyer CPA and a principal at Rothstein Kass in Beverly Hills (right) is a member of her firm's Leadership, Inspiration, Family and Empowerment Program, which strives to empower women both personally and professionally. She stands with Maryellen Sebold.Natalie Quan CPA received a Women to Watch award as an emerging leader in the accounting profession. Quan is an audit manager at Berger/Lewis Accountancy Corp. in San Jose and chair of the emerging professional committee of CalCPA's Silicon Valley San Jose Chapter. She also volunteers for Southern California Dachshund Rescue.