Austin Foust, CPA, a tax manager with HoganTaylor in Tulsa—a VIP company—and Jana Walker, CPA, a sole practitioner and business instructor at Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU) in Alva, were two of 36 leaders to graduate from the American Institute of CPAs’ (AICPA) 2019 AICPA Leadership Academy, a rigorous program to inspire, nurture and empower the next generation of CPA leaders.
Foust, a 2018 Trailblazer, and Walker, a 2016 Trailblazer, participated in interactive workshops, advanced leadership training and networking activities at the four-day event in Durham, North Carolina.
Foust currently serves on the Young Accounting Professionals (YAP) and Public Relations Committees. Walker previously served on the YAP and Governmental Accounting & Auditing Committees and is presently volunteering for the Liaison with Educational Institutions Committee.
Those who know Foust and Walker shared high praise for each.
Tony Otto, CPA, CVA, ABV, a tax partner at HoganTaylor, said, “Austin has shown a true commitment to our profession. He has served the Society, our firm and our clients and does it with the best of attitudes. No obstacle is too big for him to overcome when it comes to being the best CPA he can be.”
In a letter of reference for Walker, Dr. Deena Fisher, dean of the NWOSU Woodward campus, wrote, “I am impressed with Mrs. Walker for the professional she is and the example she is to her students at NWOSU.”
The 2019 class discussed key issues and interacted with influential leaders in the profession including Bill Reeb, CPA, CITP, CGMA, AICPA Chair; Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the AICPA and CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants; and Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, executive vice president of Firm Services for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
“It’s an exciting time to be a young leader in the accounting profession. This year’s Leadership Academy class is an impressive group of diverse professionals who are well-positioned to take the next step in their careers,” said Reeb. “New technology is disrupting the profession and creating new opportunities and challenges for CPAs. These talented CPAs are a great example of the forward-thinking leaders who will not only help steer us through this transition, but also lead us beyond it.”
The AICPA Leadership Academy is meant to serve as a succession plan for the CPA profession, ensuring a strong base of competent and committed leaders who understand the legacy of the profession and have the passion and skills necessary to address the challenges of an ever-changing global business environment. The event also encourages self-reflection and a thoughtful exploration of how leadership impacts their personal and professional lives.
“The program gave me a new perspective of how I can more effectively lead in my organization, community and the profession,” Walker said. “I left the program inspired and confident that our profession is in good hands after developing a relationship with my fellow attendees.”
The program was designed to strengthen and expand the leadership skills of promising young professionals while they network with a peer group of talented and motivated CPAs. The 2019 participants comprised the eleventh graduating class, and nearly 400 CPAs have now graduated from the program.
The 2019 Leadership Academy attendees were recommended by their employers, state CPA societies or both. Candidates submitted resumes, essays and a statement explaining how participating in the Leadership Academy would impact them personally and professionally.
Details for the 2020 Leadership Academy are available online. The application period is now open.