Karen Mayer Dwyer, a CPA from New Orleans, was honored with the 2009 Public Service Award from the American Institute of CPAs during the first day of its Fall Meeting of Council.

While still maintaining her individual CPA practice, Dwyer stepped in after Hurricane Katrina and helped lead the effort to rebuild the International School of Louisiana.

“It’s just a few brief moments in front of this Council, but there is a tremendous amount of work that is represented by the award recipient,” said AICPA Awards Committee chair Olivia Kirtley, who presented the award. “While students, staff and faculty were displaced, Karen worked diligently to find new staff and funding.”

Dwyer’s efforts included convincing the Louisiana State Board of Education to provide continued funding, while helping find a new facility and solve budget problems. As a result, the International School of Louisiana was the first public school in Orleans Parish to reopen after the hurricane.

She also helped create the International High School of New Orleans, the first language immersion school in the state to offer international business and baccalaureate tracks.

Dwyer is on the board of A Child’s Wish of Greater New Orleans, which grants wishes to children between the ages of two and 18 in Louisiana who have life-threatening illnesses.

Dwyer said she hasn’t done the work alone, but she has countless people who help through community nonprofits. She told fellow Council members to volunteer and contribute.

“Engage, participate,” she said. “The sense of community, the joy and the happiness that can be shared is limitless. It is energized, not energy drained. Thank you for this honor and privilege.”