Thursday, September 5, 2013

Join AFWA for a Trip of a Lifetime

By: Karen Jacobson, AFWA Ames Chapter Member

I’d like to encourage anyone who is even remotely thinking about joining the People to People trip to South Africa in November to decide to join me and National President, Kate Mulder who will be leading the delegation. I was part of the 2010 People to People delegation to Russia led by our National President at the time, Vivian Moller. We had 20 professionals and 3 guests in our delegation. Several members of our organization were on the trip, including my roommate Kathy Strum of the Ames Chapter. It was a trip of a lifetime.

We visited both Moscow and St. Petersburg and experienced both cultural and professional activities. We learned about the wonderful history of the country through visits to palaces, museums, churches, the Kremlin, art galleries, etc.  It included seeing how the very rich and the very poor lived. The artworks included those of the masters.  We even had time on our own for exploration and shopping.

Our professional meetings included a visit to an international CPA firm, a local accounting firm, an accounting publishing company, as well as a university. Learning about the Russian accounting profession and sharing information about the American accounting profession was enlightening.  Sometimes working with an interpreter provided an extra challenge.  One of the longest discussions was about AFWA (formerly ASWA). After the professional portion of the trip was over, a number of us enjoyed a side trip to Novgorod. Again we learned of the culture of Russia.

As I was reviewing the information on the upcoming trip to South Africa, I noticed a link to the blog that Vivian wrote throughout our trip to Russia.  Here is that link if any of you would like to read the details of that trip:

Perhaps it will give you the impetus to sign up for the upcoming trip to South Africa.

Yes, it is expensive, but so worth the money.  All the details of transportation and meetings, etc., are taken care of (except for getting to/from the departure city in the US).  We just sat back and enjoyed the experience.  The friendships we made with the other members of the delegation will last a lifetime. And the pictures we took cannot convey what a wonderful experience we had.

Why not join us for the upcoming trip to South Africa in November? Time is running out to register.  I'm looking forward to my next trip of a lifetime. See you there.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Experience History First-Hand in South Africa

By Kate Mulder, CPA, CGMA, 2013-14 AFWA National President

As Americans mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech today, I want to remind you that our country’s civil rights movement was not the only peaceful one. Amazing as our history in the United States has been over the past 50 years, there is another amazing story of more recent history and you have the opportunity to learn about it firsthand. Join me on our “Women in Accounting and Finance” delegation to South Africa (sponsored by People to People), where the people there successfully ended the apartheid peacefully. We will visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg to learn how this became “the world’s only negotiated revolution”. What a refreshing approach in today’s world that is so full of war stories!

Follow this link to explore the trip or join us on the Women in Accounting and Finance delegation to South Africa.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Focusing On Our Strengths to Achieve Success

By: Kate Mulder, CPA, CGMA, 2013-14 AFWA National President

Whether on the national or chapter level of AFWA, we all are moving quickly into our new AFWA year and planning with our boards and committees to achieve goals set forth by our leadership. This year for our national board training, I asked both our national board and our headquarters staff to read Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and take the accompanying test in order to identify each individual’s top five talents that can ultimately be converted to strengths. This is an exercise used at many workplaces, including my own. The idea is to leverage the unique strengths of employees, or in our case national board members, to develop the strongest possible team. It is amazing how empowering this approach to development is – to ask people to hone their natural talents and develop them into strengths, rather than focusing on trying to improve their weaknesses. Instead, you are encouraged to find another member who excels in your area of weakness and they will have fun filling that spot on your team. Everyone wins because everyone gets to play upon their strengths to contribute to an awesome, productive team!
Whether you are developing teams in your AFWA chapter or in a work environment, consider the talents of those around you and engage them using their natural strengths. Even if you don’t have the Strengthfinders test results, I am sure you can identify your team members’ strengths. Here are a few ideas to help you identify teams:
1. If you need execution of a plan, look to members who are naturally arrangers and act with consistency and with responsibility. These are the leaders that "catch” an idea and work tirelessly to get it accomplished.

2. If you need to spread your message or sell an idea, look for leaders who have self-assurance and are great communicators or have "woo” to get people involved.

3. If you are looking to build relationships, look for leaders that are positive promoters and create harmony bringing groups together for the greater good.

These are just a few of the ideas from Tom Rath’s Strength-Based Leadership book. I recommend this very short book as a great follow-up after taking the Strength Finders assessment.
I encourage each of you to evaluate your talents and work toward developing them into strengths, and recognizing other people’s natural talents to collaborate and build a better team whether in our AFWA chapters or other areas of your life. The rewards will be great!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ringing in the New Year

By: Kate Mulder, CPA, CGMA, AFWA National President

What an exciting time for AFWA as we begin developing plans for the upcoming year! As newly installed Chapter Presidents begin planning with their boards, we are also planning for the new year on the national level by transitioning from the outgoing board to the newly installed leadership. I’d like to share some tips to make the chapter transition smooth as well as provide the new board with support.

  • Thank your outgoing President. I personally want to thank our 2012-13 National President, Cheryl Heitz, who has provided invaluable insights to help me successfully begin my term as President. Her guidance began long before I took office. She kept me informed on issues and involved me in decisions so I was aware of items in process. Cheryl provided me timelines for items to prepare for my presidency such as when to confirm committee members. But I also want to assure Cheryl that I value her insights and guidance and will look forward to her support and advice during the upcoming year. So, hopefully the Immediate Past President has been involving you in chapter leadership during the past year. Make a pledge to yourself to involve your President-Elect so that they come into the Presidency ready to hit the ground running. Feel free to call on the Immediate Past President and other Past Presidents for guidance on issues. Their knowledge, experience and wisdom can help you go forward confidently with new plans and ideas.
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate. As leader of the National association, and you as leader of a chapter, our job is to represent the organization, not be the worker bee. Delegating to our committee chairs allows them to develop leadership skills. You also have the ability to create an ad hoc task force to accomplish a one-time program undertaking. The more you involve members, the stronger and engaged the membership becomes. We all like to feel that we are contributing to the organization.
  • Work together with your board to develop strategic goals. Use the Chapter Self-Assessment Scorecard (found in the Chapter Resources in the Members only section of our website, to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses within your chapter and allow you to develop a plan for the coming year. Then assign each Committee specific goals and track their progress throughout the year.
Encourage the use of tools on the AFWA website,, to develop leadership skills and programs. Check out the Chapter Resources section of the website, which includes the new Membership Brochure, the recent Membership Chair Training Webinar and many other tools to help inspire and guide successful membership drives and event planning.

Celebrate the victories, anniversaries and special events! Throw a fun event such as a Launch Party to announce our new name to your community! Check out the Chapter Rebrand Packet found on our website’s home page for planning ideas.

Embrace our organization’s 75th Anniversary. Plan a party to gather and share memorabilia from your chapter’s history. Send it to Headquarters to be featured during our 75th Gala in Indianapolis in October!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2013 Foundation Scholarship Winners

By: Kris Culliton, CPA, 2012-13 Foundation Scholarship Chair

The Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the scholarship program for the year ending June 30, 2013. We received almost 40 applications for awards this year. All of the candidates were excellent, and making a decision was difficult. We are proud to award scholarships to all of these outstanding candidates and their sponsoring chapters.

Paula Zanni Awards:


Kathryn Mioduszewski (Pittsburgh Chapter) received a $2,000 Paula Zanni award.  She is pursuing her degree through Washington and Jefferson College and hopes to sit for the CPA exam upon graduation. Despite personal struggles over the last couple of years, Kathryn has assumed leadership positions within Delta Gamma Fraternity. 

Danielle White (Mesa East Valley) received a $1,000 Paula Zanni award toward her education at Arizona State University.  She is an active member of both the Phoenix and Mesa East Valley chapters.  Danielle is pursuing her degree full time after working in the accounting field for 10 years.  She has earned respect from former employers and knows that further education will help her career advancement.

Robert Half International Undergraduate Award:

Ashley Bauscher (Philadelphia Chapter) is a student at Alvernia University and has been awarded a $1,500 Robert Half International undergraduate scholarship award. After working as a medical assistant for a number of years, she decided to make a change and pursue a career in Accounting. She has been active as a student member of AICPA, PICPA and IMA, in addition to a number of other organizations. Ashley feels that she has finally found a career that will match her own ethical values.

Undergraduate Awards:

Ali Britzman  (Omaha Chapter) received a $1,500 undergraduate scholarship award for her education at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Ali maintains a 4.0 CPA while being active with Delta Sigma Pi and Beta Alpha Psi. Ashley is a Finance Major, but she understands that having an accounting background will assist her in passing the Level 1 Chartered Financial Analyst exam upon graduation.

Christina Gast (Minneapolis / St Paul Chapter) has been awarded $1,000 toward her education at the College of Saint Benedict. Christina started out as a nursing student and discovered that accounting was a better fit. Her goal is to become a CPA in the tax field.  Her volunteer work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, VITA and Alpha Kappa Sigma have given her a special appreciation of non-profits and wants to continue to support them in meeting their goals.

Siyu Lu (Bellevue Chapter) has been awarded $1,500 for her education at the University of Washington. Siyu has continued to work toward higher education in spite of being a foreign student, and a number of personal and financial struggles that would have made a lot of people give up. Siyu says “the door of higher education will remain open to me” if she is selected for a scholarship. 

Kelsey Martin (Wichita Chapter) has been awarded a $1,500 scholarship toward her education at Kansas State University. Kelsey has been very active as a student and a member of Gamma Phi Beta, Beginning a Promising Profession (BAPP) and a number of other organizations while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Kelsey says that “my goal throughout life is to give back to my school, community and church for all the hard work that they have done to make this world a better place.” 

Bethany Spates (Birmingham Chapter) has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship toward her education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Bethany is looking to graduate and pass the CPA exam on her first attempt, and eventually open her own practice. Bethany says that “helping people change their lives is the impact I would like to have on the accounting world.”

Master’s Degree Awards:

Casey Jackson (Tulsa Chapter) has been awarded a $2,500 scholarship toward her MBA program at Oral Roberts University. She will be starting an internship with Ernst & Young over the summer, with hopes of receiving a full time job offer. Casey also serves as academic leader by tutoring elementary students as well as peers on campus through the Academic Peer Advisor program; all while maintaining a high GPA. 

Ashley Peery (Springfield Chapter) has been awarded a $1,500 scholarship toward her MBA program at Missouri State University. She is currently serving as President of the Accounting Club/IMA Student Chapter with hopes of serving a second year in that position. Ashley says that “I am excited to see where my career takes me and I will put in my highest effort at every step of the way.”

Certfication Awards:

Stephanie Auge (Fort Worth Chapter) has been awarded a $500 RHI certification scholarship award toward her CPA designation. Stephanie is a Tax Associate at Weaver and Tidwell, LLP and graduated from Texas Tech University in 2012. Stephanie first became involved with AFWA when she was an intern at Weaver and Tidwell, and since then has assisted in recruiting new members to join the Fort Worth Chapter.

Ashley Borek (Seattle Chapter) has also been awarded a $500 certification scholarship award toward her CFE and CMA designations. Ashley is currently a staff accountant at Brantley Janson Yost & Ellison after graduating from the University of Washington in 2011. Ashley joined AFWA as a student member, and enjoys networking and obtaining professional education at monthly meetings.

CPAexcel Awards:

Debby Bloom (Charlotte Chapter) has been awarded a CPA Review scholarship. Debby is an accounting teacher at Mitchelle Community College and is working toward her CPA designation in order to advance her skill sets and be a role model to her students. Debby has been in accounting education since 1994 and often encourages her students to join AFWA, IMA and AICPA to advance their career goals. Debby says, "Earning my CPA designation while teaching would highly motivate my students and make them realize they can achieve their goals as well."

Jessica Clarke (Orange County Chapter) has also been awarded a CPA review scholarship. Jessica obtained her accounting degree and MBA after finding joy in a "Principles of Accounting" class - and she is the first in her family to earn a college degree! After gaining experience at KPMG, Jessica left the accounting world to raise a family. Jessica says, "I am motived to get my career back on track and as an accounting professional, passing the CPA exam will enhance my career." Jessica has been an AFWA member since 2005.

The Foundation would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all our scholarship recipients. They all have worthwhile career goals and a strong desire to provide leadership as professionals, as well as community service volunteers. We invite each of them to look at the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance as an opportunity for them to meet their goals and at The Foundation as a way to pay it forward to another aspiring student of accounting and finance. We would also like to thank each and every AFWA member for their continued support of our goals with their donations. We look forward to continued growth in our donations and awards in the future.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

And Now for Coffee and Dessert...

By: Cheryl Heitz, 2012-13 AFWA National President

As I sit here in my final month of my presidency, it is time to reflect on the great year we’ve had and look forward to the future. Looking back, I realize that 2012-2013 was truly the year of change.

We launched a new membership campaign late last summer. For several years the campaign prizes were a free conference registration. This year’s campaign is divided into three parts: an individual recruiting goal with cool prizes such as Kindle Fires and iPads, a chapter recruitment and retention goal with $1,000 prizes for chapters, and a bonus campaign for the "Chapter Launch Party” initiative created around our name change. I hope all of you and your chapters are excited about the campaign prizes and have participated by recruiting new members.

In early October we released the second part of our special diversity report focusing on "Solutions to Increase Diversity in the Accounting and Finance Fields.” This is an excellent publication that can really help companies and firms embrace the demographic shifts in the workforce.  If you haven’t looked at it, please do and share it with your organization. We also highlighted the importance of embracing diversity with our first-ever panel discussion that was held at the conference, including the CEOs of diverse accounting and business associations such as ALPFA, Ascend and Financial Executives Institute.

We implemented a few other changes within our conference in San Diego. After eight years of jointly hosting our annual conference with AWSCPA, this year we brought the conference back in house in order to achieve better brand consistency. We are happy with the result and that our conference continues to be successful. The Foundation concluded the Amazing Foundation Race, which many people participated in and had a great time.

And of course, there was the passage of the bylaw amendment to change our name to the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance. The new name required many more decisions than I ever imagined. There is the new logo, color selection, font decisions, banner layout, web site updates, publication updates, names tags, business cards and the list goes on. Luckily we have a great team of committee members: Julianne Dorsett, Tyna Gaylor, Linda Harris, Lori Kelley, Monika Miles, Kate Mulder, and Dianna Patton along with our experts at Headquarters that all helped guide this process. One thing I am particularly excited about is a new membership brochure. We have needed one for several years, and this one is pretty, fresh and inspiring.

For a sneak peek into next year, I am excited to share that we will be launching a redesign of the website. We are all thrilled to change our website to be more attractive to prospective members, while making it easier for our current members to navigate. We hope to launch the new website in late summer. The other exciting change is the launch of a pilot student chapter.

But even in the year of change – there are things that remain same and that I love about AFWA, the friendships and relationships that I have formed as a member of the board and serving as a volunteer for this great organization. I have had a very eventful year and appreciate all the people who have helped me along the way. I am enthusiastic for the future and happy to turn over the torch to Kate and the new board. I am sure they will continue this great legacy of success. Thank you for the honor of serving as the 2012-2013 National President.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Accounting & Finance Delegation to South Africa

By: Catherine (Kate) Mulder, CPA, CGMA, 2012-13 National President-Elect

I’m very excited to share the news of a great travel and professional opportunity - a trip to South Africa in November!  As the 2013-2014 National President of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance, I will be leading a delegation of accounting and financial professional to South Africa leaving the US on November 4th

We will be experiencing a dynamic and diverse cultural experience with opportunity to discuss accounting regulations and standards with professionals in industry, government and education there.  We will meet with professionals and visit cultural sites in Johannesburg  and Cape Town with an opportunity to extend the trip with a safari in Kruger National Park.  Consider joining me – it promises to be an exciting and educational adventure!  For details, visit