Attention FAE Customers:
Please be aware that NASBA credits are awarded based on whether the events are webcast or in-person, as well as on the number of CPE credits.
Please check the event registration page to see if NASBA credits are being awarded for the programs you select.

Chapter Leaders Spotlight the Benefits of Member Participation

Ruth Singleton
Published Date:
Dec 10, 2019


NYSSCPA members are missing out on a lot if they don’t participate in their chapters. That’s the message of several current and former chapter presidents from across the state, who say that participation offers chapter members the opportunity to network, advance in their careers, enhance their technical and leadership skills, and give back to the profession.

“The connections that you make are priceless,” said Maria L. Petrollese, the immediate past president of the Mid Hudson Chapter.

Petrollese joined the Society in 2008, when she was a CPA candidate. At the time, she worked at a firm that was a 100 percent membership organization and encouraged participation. She joined the Mid Hudson Chapter’s Bankers and Attorneys Committee, and it was a natural progression to join the chapter board and, eventually, the statewide Board of Directors. She now serves on the Board as a director as chapter representative for Mid Hudson.

After taking time off to have two children, Petrollese said, her chapter leadership experience made it easier to get a referral and a new job in industry, as well as adjunct professor positions at Mount St. Mary College and SUNY New Paltz: “I met people in academia and now teach—all from the State Society.” As someone who works in industry, Petrollese observed that an important benefit is the CPE that the chapter provides (many public accounting firms provide CPE for their employees).

She noted that the networking and social aspects of chapter involvement are also important to her. “I do it because I love my profession,” she said.

Other chapter leaders talked up the importance of getting involved at the local level.

Chapter participation is an “easy, no pressure way to network,” said Lisa A. Mrkall, the president of the Buffalo Chapter. She said that she “didn’t know how anything was run at the board level,” but she “raised a hand, started taking minutes, and eventually became secretary.” When Immediate Past President Kevin M. Penner asked her to become president-elect, she received support from both her firm and the board.

“Everyone on my board is so incredibly supportive,” she said. “A lot of veterans still sit on the board, some for 20 years, and they have seen it all. Having been involved with the Society for a lot of years, they’re top-notch; they’re the reason I’ve gone to meetings. I just knew I should be there to listen to their stories, their experience.”

“Our board members are extremely passionate and engaged in the board and their careers,” Mrkall said. “Choosing this profession has done so much for me, and being able to give back is very important.”

Michael B. Herz, the immediate past president of the Westchester Chapter, also said that he finds it satisfying to give back to the profession. “For the past six or seven years, we have had a recruitment event, typically in October, and I have given mock interviews. That’s very rewarding, giving back to the profession, encouraging people who are trying to break into the profession to improve résumé and interviewing skills. I believe that paying it forward is worthwhile, and I encourage other members to do the same.”

Herz said that he became active in the chapter at a time when he was in transition. He started by attending his chapter’s Accounting in Industry Committee meetings. When it was time for one of the co-chairs to become president of the chapter, he became the other co-chair. A year later, he was asked to step up as officer, “and that started my transition through to treasurer, vice president, president-elect and, finally, president. When I was looking for a job, … one of the things I put on my résumé was that I was  president-elect of the Westchester Chapter,” he said. “That was impressive to them.”

“No matter what committee a new member gravitates to,  I encourage participation,” Herz said. “I think one gets more out of it than they put into it.”

Matthew G. Gallagher, president of the Queens/Brooklyn Chapter, said that serving as a chapter leader has “gotten me name recognition.”

He said that when he moved from public accounting to take a financial officer position at St. John’s University, he became more involved with the chapter, in part, for the CPE. He joined the chapter board in 2016, at the urging of another member. “There are a lot of resources that the Society provides,” he said, “especially the CPE and getting your name out there for job prospects.”

 “I have had a chance to meet people in other industries and accounting backgrounds,” he added, which has given him the opportunity to “network with people who face similar issues” and gain a “different perspective you might not see from your own practice.”

The chapter’s two biggest events are an auditing conference each May and a tax conference each December. He mentioned that his chapter includes many sole practitioners, and the chapter has featured several sole practitioner roundtables to address their particular concerns.

Lenore Sanchez, the president of the Rockland Chapter, said that members who don’t participate in their chapters are “missing out on a lot.” She listed as key benefits building professional resources, benefiting from the perspectives of CPAs from different areas of the profession, and having an important voice in the Society.

 “One of the reasons why I decided to become involved was because I felt it was important to work  with other professionals in the same industry,” she said. She stressed that chapter leaders welcome new ideas and suggestions: “Often, if one person is looking for something or has a need that isn’t being met, there are others that feel the same way—it’s important to communicate, so that those in the local chapter can be aware and deliver on something they may not have even realized is missing.”

Mrkall echoed that suggestion: “Identify a need that your peers have, such as a technical area; you can really take it and run with it and bring it to the board.”

“Just come to the events, meet the people, see what it’s about, and use us as a resource,” Sanchez said.

Click here to see more of the latest news from the NYSSCPA.