Accounting Today’s 100 Most Influential – Part 1

If you’re in the accounting world, you probably know that at the beginning of this month, Accounting Today released its annual list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting.  Going through the list, I noticed many of the same names, but there were quite a few – 18, to be exact – that to me were seemingly new to the list.  When I checked previous years’ lists and Google-searched each of them to verify, I saw that they were most likely the newest crop of influential professionals.

So, as any marketing blogger would do, I decided to write about it.

Over the next few weeks, I will be looking at each of these professionals and highlighting their accomplishments.  Whether they work from within the profession or outside of it, these folks have done some pretty cool things for accounting over the past several years, establishing themselves as the next leaders of the profession.

All right, here we go – first six people.

Jack Ciesielski – Publisher, The Analyst’s Accounting Observer

The Analyst’s Accounting Observer, according to their website, “is a research service dedicated to making investors and analysts aware of the investment impact of accounting issues.”  Jack manages a resource that gathers valuable news and insights from a variety of media outlets and accounting industry governing bodies for the benefit of investment management professionals and analysts.  I’m not a subscriber to his site, so I don’t have access to all he has available, which include blogs, client reports, and responses to current issues in accounting, but I do feel this is an incredibly valuable resource.  I don’t know of any other site that presents industry issues and trends as they pertain specifically to investors and analysts.  Check his site out at

Lauren Clemmer – Executive Director, Association for Accounting Marketing

As a relatively new member of AAM, I’m really glad to include Lauren on this blog post.  She joined AAM as the Executive Director in June of 2015, and since then, I feel she’s done a lot for the accounting marketing field.  She’s conducted interviews and contributed to many articles in Accounting Today, Journal of Accountancy, and the AICPA, among others, as well as AAM’s publications.  To be honest, she’s the only Executive Director I’ve ever known, so I’ve no one to whom I can compare her, but through a phone call I had with her over the summer I know she’s a very helpful, supportive person working in the best interests of AAM’s constituency.  I’m looking forward to getting more involved with AAM under her helm.  Wanna know more?  Visit

Phil Drake – Founder/CEO, Drake Software

According to Accounting Today, Drake Software is “the largest indepedent company in the tax preparation software industry.”  After visiting their site, I can see Drake offers a cool software called Drake Tax that makes tax return processing quick and efficient, with features such as shortcut keys, automatic data flow between federal, state & city returns, and easy backups and updating.  The ease of using this software, of course, is to enable professionals to focus on their firms.  But Drake has products for that, too!  From practice management and CRM software, online programs, workflow tools, and a package called DrakeCWU which contains “modules for payroll, bookkeeping, contractor payments, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and “on-the-fly” forms”, Drake is invested in all aspects of a firm’s technological stability.  No wonder, then, they’ve experienced such strong growth as of late.  Check out to learn more about them.

Kimberly Ellison-Taylor – Incoming Chair, AICPA

I see her everywhere.  And whenever I see her, she always exudes unparalleled enthusiasm for the profession, with a bright smile and an unselfish willingness to help.  In the past year or so I’ve been following her, she has done a lot of great work for the accounting industry.  She’s served as Vice Chairman of the AICPA Board of Directors as well as numerous AICPA committees, she’s also chaired the Maryland Association of CPAs, working hand-in-hand with Tom Hood, and has served in leadership roles for numerous major companies.  On top of that, when she assumes the Chair next month, she will become the first African-American leader of the AICPA.

I love how she’s always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it.  Another particular element of her modus operandi that I like is her advocacy for diversity and inclusion in the profession.  As she told the AICPA blog back in February:

“I know the AICPA is serious about diversity and inclusion. The board of directors is serious about diversity and inclusion. As more and more CPAs join our efforts, changes should filter into all areas of organizations and the profession overall. That’s one of the best ways we can advocate for future talent — so up-and-coming CPAs can see a place for themselves within the profession.  As for continuing my year as vice chairman, I am so excited. It’s an honor, I am so appreciative, and wherever I am needed, I will make myself available. I’m raising my hand. I hope you’ll join me.”

I certainly want to.

Jina Etienne – President/CEO, NABA

Keeping in the theme of diversity, Jina Etienne took the helm of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) at around this time last year.  As there has been increased discussion about creating a more inclusive, diverse profession that mirrors the ethnic breakdown of the American population, she steps into this leadership role at a very important time.  Needless to say, she brings a breadth of experience, having served in companies big and small, including managing her own firm, and volunteering with other community and civic organizations.  She’s no doubt invested in serving others through her work within NABA, and is committed to providing opportunities to all professionals of color in the accounting and finance fields.

To learn more about NABA, visit  They have about 50 chapters and 150 student chapters nationwide.

Kim Fantaci – President, CPAFMA

The CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA) is an organization that serves all who are involved with the practice management aspect of a firm, namely, the firm administrators.  The firm administrators are those who run the everyday business operations of an accounting practice.  As AccountingWeb puts it, “Many administrators serve as the firm’s chief operating officer.  They manage the firm’s cash and finances, time and billing, collections, employee benefits and policies, recruiting, professional liability insurance, computer systems, equipment purchases, office relocation and marketing.”  Of course, in most firms, marketing has its own department, but in some smaller firms, the administrator takes the helm of it.

Anyway, back to Kim.  She’s been involved with the CPAFMA for over 20 years, and last year led the Association’s way through a rebranding.  She established a partnership with the Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) of the AICPA, thereby providing additional resources to the members of each group.  Finally, like AAM provides resources to its accounting marketers, the CPAFMA provides numerous opportunities for education and professional development to its members, including seminars, webinars, in-person events and training programs.  And rightly so – Kim is a firm (no pun intended) believer in the role of the administrator in the growth of the industry.  As she said in an interview with Inside Public Accounting in February:

“CPAFMA is a recognized leader in CPA firm practice management delivering valuable education and collaboration opportunities to those interested in elevating their practice and strategically growing their firms. By providing our members with expert thinking, support, education, inspiration and advocacy, we will provide the leadership to take firms to the next level, regardless of size or structure.”

Visit to learn more about CPAFMA and the work Kim is doing.

That’s the end of Part 1, folks.  Stay tuned over these next couple weeks for Parts 2 & 3!




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