NJCPA Volunteer AwardNJCPA Volunteer Award Recipients

The importance of volunteers to the NJCPA and communities throughout New Jersey cannot be overstated. Whether the individual acts as a volunteer leader of an NJCPA interest group, chapter, committee, as an administrator of an event or contributes his or her time and resources in support of the NJCPA in other ways, the efforts that are put forth deserve recognition.

Join us in congratulating the following professionals whose unselfish and dedicated service to the NJCPA and worthy causes in their communities have made a significant difference. 

Award Recipients

  • Jean AbbottJean I. Abbott, CPA
    Assistant Professor of Business Studies, Accounting at Stockton University
    In addition to being a former NJCPA Atlantic/Cape May Chapter president and past chair of the Society's CPA Exam Exposure Draft Task Force, Jean actively works with Stockton University students to teach career readiness. She brought the Junior Achievement Career Success program to Stockton, where the college students teach local high school students about accounting and she set up Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) at the University, where volunteers prepare free tax returns on campus. Jean was also selected as one of NJCPA's 2016 "Women of Note."
  • Lynn AlbalaLynn L. Albala, CPA, CMA, CGMA
    Chief Financial Officer at InfoSight Partners LLC
    Lynn has consistently shown commitment to the NJCPA, having been a former Finance Committee chair, the former treasurer of the Board of Trustees, and a group leader for the Technology Interest Group. She is a frequent lecturer for the Society on nonprofit topics. In addition, Lynn was a Medallion Coin winner in 2016, was selected to the CPA List in 2014, and was a 2012 "Women of Note" winner. She routinely mentors others and encourages leadership roles at the Society.
  • D. Dean BeddowD. Dean Beddow, CPA
    Managing Director - Risk Management at Grant Thornton LLP
    Dean has given more than 10 years of exemplary service to the NJCPA Peer Review Executive Committee, with the past three years as chair. He was invaluable in editing, reviewing and responding to the many exposure drafts issued by the AICPA Peer Review program. He ensured all individual opinions were heard and all points of view were considered.
  • Howard BookbinderHoward J. Bookbinder, CPA
    Owner at Howard J. Bookbinder, CPA
    Howard has long served the NJCPA community — celebrating 50 years of commitment in 2019. He previously chaired the former NJCPA Cooperation with the IRS Committtee (now the Federal Taxation Interest Group) and the Bergen Chapter. He was appointed by the NJCPA to partner with the IRS on four committees and continues to be active in both the Federal and State Taxation Interest Groups. He also forged key relationships with the New Jersey Department of Labor. Howard has been a passionate advocate for small firms. He is also a former instructor of accounting and taxation at Rutgers University.
  • Amy BothAmy Y. Both, CPA
    Manager at Neral & Company, P.A.
    Amy has devoted more than 10 years of service to the NJCPA, with three of those as a member of the Board of Trustees. She has also been a leader in the Nonprofit Interest Group, assisted with the Society's tax call-in program in conjunction with the Asbury Park Press, and serves on the Audit Committee and Volunteer Relations Committee. She also serves on her local YMCA Swim Team Advisory Committee, assisting with accounting and fundraising.
  • Walter BraschWalter J. Brasch, CPA, CGMA
    Managing Director at Whitman Business Advisors, LLC
    Walter joined the NJCPA in 1977 and has committed his time and energy ever since. He is a past president of the NJCPA, serves as chair of the Nominating Committee, is a member of the Accounting & Auditing Standards Interest Group, the Governmental Accounting & Auditing Interest Group and the Property Task Force. He is also a former trustee on the Department of Labor Work Group, the Education Foundation Board and the NJCPA Scholarship Fund. He was a former chair of the NJ-CPA-PAC and has served as president, vice president, secretary and director of the NJCPA Monmouth/Ocean Chapter. In his community, Brasch has served as board chair of the Raritan Bay Medical Center, alumni association president of Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) and board member of the American Cancer Society and the Boy Scouts of America, Monmouth Council.
  • Jeffrey ChristakosJeffrey Christakos, CPA, CFP, CLU, AIF
    Chair, Accounting Department at Monmouth University
    Jeffrey has become a recognized leader for all types of volunteering across New Jersey. At Monmouth University, he leads the Financial Literacy Group, where he teaches goal-setting and financial literacy to 130 high school students, primarily from lower socioeconomic areas. He has received the Lee M. Hale Downtown Volunteer Award for his service to Westfield. He has also taught accounting as an adjunct professor at Monmouth University, Rutgers University, New Jersey City University and Union County College and taught financial planning courses at Fairleigh Dickinson. At NJCPA, he is an active member of several committees, including the Content Advisory Board, Federal Taxation Interest Group and the Investment Committee. He is also the Treasurer of the Union County Chapter.
  • Reynold CicaleseReynold P. Cicalese, CPA, PFS, CGMA
    Managing Partner at Alloy, Silverstein, Shapiro, Adams, Mulford, Cicalese, Wilson & Co.
    Ren is no stranger to helping others in the community. A supporter of Go Red for Women, the American Heart Association’s initiative to end heart disease and strokes in women, he led his firm in raising more than $5,000 per year since February 2009. He also started his firm’s career day, where 40 students visit the office annually to learn more about the accounting profession. Ren was also behind his firm teaming up with Camden-based Catholic Partnership Schools to help establish their own holiday family adoption program. His firm since works with other South Jersey families, including teenagers in group homes. At NJCPA, he was a past officer and director of the Southwest Chapter and was appointed to several state committees.
  • Reynold CicaleseReynold Peter Cicalese III, CPA, MST
    Associate Partner at Alloy, Silverstein, Shapiro, Adams, Mulford, Cicalese, Wilson & Co.
    Ren has been recognized for several outstanding awards, including “30 Under 30” by the NJCPA for 2011 and 2015, and “40 Under 40” by SNJ Business People in 2015. He received the Emerging Leaders Class of 2017 award by the Burlington County Times, and in 2018, he was honored as a Young Professional of the Year by Nonprofit Development Center of Southern New Jersey. At NJCPA, Ren is a Southwest Jersey Chapter director and is member of several tax committees. He is also a mentor for the Society’s Mentor Program and was formerly involved in the Young CPAs Council (the current Emerging Leaders Council).
  • Laura CrowleyLaura M. Crowley, CPA, MBA
    Director at Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP
    Laura is known for her leadership and dedication to a variety of causes, including the Girl Scouts of New Jersey. In this capacity, she is a national winner of prestigious awards including the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey – Dedicated Leader Award, the Volunteer of Excellence Award, the Appreciation pin and the President’s Award for her service unit team. In addition, she is a Gold Award advisor for two girls. At the NJCPA, she is a member of numerous committees, including Accounting & Auditing, the International Accounting Standards Work Group, FASB Accounting Standards Work Group, and the Nonprofit Interest Group. In addition, she was a 2016 “Women of Note” Honoree.
  • Peter DeSarnoPeter C. DeSarno, CPA
    Controller at NJ Sharing Network
    Peter is the very definition of what “giving back” is all about. As a young adult, Peter noticed his eyesight deteriorating while playing high school baseball, and eventually was diagnosed with a condition called keratoconus. He ended up receiving two cornea transplants with the assistance of the NJ Sharing Network. Today, after a 20+ year career in public and corporate accounting, Peter works as the controller for the NJ Sharing Network. He continues to help spread the important lifesaving message of organ and tissue donation by helping to sign up donors, staff information tables or tell his inspirational story to students.
  • Carol Donatiello IoccaCarol Donatiello Iocca, CPA
    Partner at Wilkin & Guttenplan, P.C.
    Carol is known for her exemplary commitment to the NJCPA. For more than 20 years, she has been a member of the Accounting & Audit Interest Group, as well as a vice-chair and subcommittee chair. In addition, she has been on the Board of Trustees for the past three years. She has also been a member of the Peer Review Executive Committee since 2015. In 2012, she was an NCPA “Women of Note” winner and in 2015, she was awarded the Gold Medallion coin. Outside of NJCPA, she was a trustee at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic as well as the past chair of their finance committee.
  • Henrietta FuchsHenrietta G. Fuchs, CPA
    Partner at CohnReznick LLP
    After receiving the NJCPA Scholarship Award in 2003, Henrietta has been committed to helping the younger generation succeed in the accounting profession. Since 2010 she was a member of the Student Programs and Scholarship Committee, and currently serves as the chair and a trustee of the NJCPA Scholarship Fund. For more than four years, she has mentored high school scholarship recipients, was a member of the Young CPA Council (now the Emerging Leaders Council) and has volunteered with the NJCPA’s Pay It Forward and Junior Achievement campaigns. She also speaks at various colleges about the CPA profession and becoming a CPA. She was also a 2012 and 2016 NJCPA “Women of Note” award winner.
  • Ronald GrayRonald E. Gray, Jr., CPA
    Managing Member at Lembo & Gray, LLC
    Ron was posthumously awarded the NJCPA's Voluteer Award. He was a past president of the NJCPA Passaic County Chapter and served on numerous Society tax, auditing, student membership and technology committees. He was also a Board of Trustees liaison for the Bergen Chapter Board of Directors, the Committee Operations Committee and the Student Programs & Scholarship Committee.
  • Elizabeth HarperElizabeth B. Harper, CPA
    Member of the Firm at Sobel & Co. LLC
    Elizabeth is passionate about helping women succeed in business — as evidenced by her contributions both in and out of the office. She launched and has been the co-chair of the Mentoring Committee of the New Jersey Chapter of the Financial Women's Association (FWA) for the past three years. In this capacity, she provides a hands-on opportunity to offer insights and advice to women pursuing their college education. At the NJCPA, she was a leader of the Accounting & Auditing Standards Interest Group and was a member of numerous committees, including the Committee Operations Committee and the Employee Benefit Plan Work Group. She also was given the NJCPA 2016 "Women of Note" award.
  • Jesse HerschbeinJesse M. Herschbein, CPA, CGMA
    Accountant at LFL Veritas, LLC
    Jesse has been on the Essex Chapter board for 12 years, twice serving as president. He is active in all facets of the NJCPA — from the Young CPAs Council to the Cooperation with Bankers Committee Interest Group to advising on content. Jesse has also been an active member of the NJCPA's Career Awareness Program, presenting at various high schools in New Jersey, and was a mentor to students at the Silberman College of Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
  • Megan KellyMegan T. Kelly, CPA, CFE
    Manager at Sobel & Co. LLC
    Megan is an active participant in NJCPA youth initiatives. She is a member of the NJCPA Scholarship Committee, where she volunteers to review essays, greet, and interview high school students. Megan enjoys getting to know the students in the process and prepares them for the interviews. She also puts that same effort into her involvement in the NJCPA Mentor Program, where she is a mentor to a college senior, and in the Society’s CPA Career Awareness program, where she has presented to numerous schools. She also speaks at her alma mater, The College of New Jersey. Outside of NJCPA, Megan has raised over $5,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.
  • Jodi KleuskensJodi D. Kleuskens, CPA, MAcc
    Tax Manager - State Planning & Audits at Johnson & Johnson
    Since becoming a member of the NJCPA’s State Tax Interest Group in 2012, Jodi has dedicated her time and energy to the tax needs of the Society. From writing the detailed minutes of the meetings to becoming the leader of the State Tax Interest Group from 2016 to 2018, Jodi has shown a high commitment to educating members and the public about tax issues. She has assisted the NJCPA community by writing formal comment letters to the New Jersey Division of Taxation for Proposed CBT Regulations, responded to media inquiries about tax law changes, and helped with inquiries on NJCPA Connect. She was also an NJCPA “30 Under 30” award winner in 2015.
  • Karen LeeKaren J. Lee, CPA
    Manager, Technical Accounting & Reporting at Aerie Pharmaceuticals
    Karen is a recognized leader at Deloitte and at the NJCPA for encouraging involvement. She has been a member of the Young CPAs Council (now the Emerging Leaders Council) since 2014, where she promotes participation in various young CPA events and volunteer opportunities. She helped lead the NJCPA Food Drive for Parsippany, Princeton and Jersey City. She recruited speakers for NJCPA’s CPA Career Awareness program at Deloitte, which had the highest participation rate of any NJCPA member firm. She encouraged younger staff to hone their public speaking skills and coordinated about 40 Deloitte presentations.
  • Joseph LizzaJoseph A. Lizza, CPA
    Sole Practitioner at Lizza & Associates
    Joseph has been a significant role model for all future accountants as well as CPAs currently in the profession. In 2010, while an adjunct professor at Felician University, Joseph saw a way to advance the Felician Franciscan mission of service to the local community of Bergen County while providing a hands-on accounting experience for his students. He created the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers free tax assistance to area residents, primarily serving low-income residents. He began teaching accounting as an adjunct professor in the 1990s and has since been recognized as Teacher of the Year at Felician as well as at Rutgers and Fordham University. He is also a member of NJCPA’s Bergen County Chapter Scholarship Committee.
  • Joseph McGrathJoseph A. McGrath, Jr., CPA
    Audit Senior Manager at Deloitte
    A keen motivator, Joe is the primary liaison between Deloitte and NJCPA, encouraging colleagues to participate and get involved in various volunteer events. From NJCPA’s Food Drive to mentoring students, Joe is always front and center when it comes to donating his time. For the past decade, Joe has been involved in the NJCPA’s CPA Career Awareness Program, where he consistently visited schools. In addition, he is a member of the Student Programs & Scholarships Committee and the Professional Conduct Committee. In 2011, he was named one of NJCPA’s “30 Under 30” award winners.
  • Tara MelickTara Melick, CPA
    Supervisor at Wilkin & Guttenplan, P.C.
    Tara has a long-standing commitment to community service. At Wilkin & Guttenplan PC, she assisted in the creation of the We Give initiative, where she coordinates the volunteering of more than 100 employees and local communities. In this capacity, she organizes school supply and holiday gift drives as well as volunteer days at the Ronald McDonald House and service days at the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities’ Lakeview School. Tara is also active in “Dance for the Cure,” an organization committed to the prevention and cure of breast cancer through the celebration of dance. All monies raised are distributed directly to families in Somerset, Middlesex and Hunterdon Counties.
  • Jennifer PeoplesJennifer R. Peoples, CPA
    Owner at Jennifer Peoples, CPA
    A member of the NJCPA for more than 20 years, Jennifer has donated her time in a variety of ways. She is a trustee of the NJCPA Scholarship Fund, a vice chair of the Volunteer Relations Committee and has been president of the Hudson Chapter. She continues to serve as a director of the Hudson Chapter and was a member of the Student Programs & Scholarships Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee and the Financial Literacy Committee. In addition, Jennifer is a reader for the NJCPA’s Scholarship Fund program. Jennifer also received the NJCPA’s Distinguished Service Medallion in 2014.
  • Michelle ShapiroMichelle C. Shapiro, CPA
    Tax Manager at Untracht Early LLC
    Michelle has been an officer of the Morris/Sussex chapter since 2012, which includes two years as treasurer, two as vice president and two as president. In addition, she has been a member of the Joint Chapter & Interest Group Leaders and the Chapter Operations Committee. Outside of the NJCPA, she is very involved in the Morristown community. She has been a finance committee board member for the Mayo Performing Arts Center/Morristown Community Theater for more than 10 years as well as an accounting subcommittee board member for the Foundation for Morristown Medical Center for the past 12 years.
  • Carl SpechtCarl Specht, CPA, CGMA
    Partner at Costantino, Specht, Templeton & Co., LLC
    A CPA since 1976, Carl has served the NJCPA in a variety of capacities. He is currently the director of the Hudson Chapter, having served as president, treasurer and secretary. He has also been a chair of the Meetings & Special Events Committee for several years as well as a member of the Federal Taxation Interest Group, the State Taxation Interest Group and the Nonprofit Interest Group. Active in the community, Carl has also served as past president of Accountants for Public Interest-NJ. He has also been a site coordinator and volunteer preparer for the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for over 30 years. Carl also won the NJCPA’s Distinguished Service Medallion in 2009. In addition, NJCPA cited him as a “Top 50 over 50” award winner.
  • Catherine SysloCatherine Syslo, CPA
    Director, Quality Control at CohnReznick LLP
    Catherine has dedicated herself to increasing attendance at NJCPA’s Nonprofit Interest Group, where she was a former leader and current member, and at NJCPA’s Accounting & Auditing Interest Group. She continuously looks for ways to present opportunities for members to receive continuing professional education (CPE) credits. She has presented as well as identified outside speakers to present on a range of topics, including accounting and audit updates, legal issues affecting not-for-profits and revenue recognition. Catherine has also been actively involved in the planning and coordination of NJCPA’s nonprofit conference for the past three years, including identifying topics, reaching out to potential speakers and introducing speakers at the event.
  • June TothJune M. Toth, CPA, CFF, CITP, CGMA
    Managing Member at ZBT Certified Public Accounting & Consulting, LLC
    June provides the same level of commitment inside the NJCPA as outside. For the past three years, June was president (and now vice president) for Roots and Wings, a nonprofit organization that provides educational, vocational counseling and residential support to aged-out foster youth in New Jersey. She has also been the past treasurer of a local municipal library and school board. At the NJCPA, she is a member of the Board of Trustees. She has been the past chair and secretary of the PAC Board of Trustees, a past leader and vice leader of the Business Valuation Forensic Accounting Interest Group (now the Forensic & Valuation Services Interest Group) and a past chair and vice chair of the Committee Operations Committee.
  • Michael VanderGootMichael VanderGoot, CPA CGMA
    Manager, Lease Audit at BDO USA, LLP
    Currently a member of four NJCPA interest groups for the 2018/19 term, Michael has shown significant dedication to the NJCPA. He is an active participant in the Emerging Leaders Interest Group, the Strategic Planning Committee, the Forensic & Valuation Services Interest Group and the Property Task Force. He previously was a trustee of the Education Foundation Board, secretary of both the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees, chair of the Volunteer Relations Committee and president of the Monmouth/Ocean Chapter. He is also a Career Awareness presenter. Outside of the NJCPA, he is the treasurer of Monmouth University Alumni Board of Directors.
  • Paula YoungPaula M. Young, CPA
    Partner, Professional Practice Group at EisnerAmper LLP
    Paula has been helping to set accounting and auditing standards at the NJCPA since 2004. She has been a member and a past leader of the Accounting & Auditing Standards Interest Group, as well as the chair of the Professional Conduct Committee. Paula has also participated as a member of the Securities Exchange Commission Work Group since 2005. In 2016, Paula was recognized as one of NJCPA’s “Women of Note.” Outside of the NJCPA, Paula has made significant contributions to the Chittick School Parent Teacher Association in East Brunswick, having been the treasurer for three years. She was also the treasurer of the East Brunswick High School Cheer Booster Club from 2012 to 2016.

Honorable Mentions

Kathleen Bernard

Kathleen Bernard, CPA
Lota & Bernard, LLC

Christine Darcy

Christine M. Darcy, CPA
Darcy & Connolly, CPAs, LLC

Fausto Diaz

Fausto B. Diaz, CPA
Mazars USA LLP

Sandra Emmert

Sandra S. Emmert, CPA
Samuels Inc.

Salvatore Grasso

Salvatore M. Grasso, CPA
Grasso & Company, LLC CPAs

Michael Levy

Michael Levy
Student Transportation of America

Gary Mannuzza

Gary S. Mannuzza, Jr., CPA
Mannuzza & Company, LLC

Russell Schwartz

Russell A. Schwartz, CPA
HBK CPAs & Consultants

Martin Shenkman

Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, J.D.
Martin M. Shenkman, P.C. Attorneys At Law

Lucy Turnage

Lucy Turnage, CPA, CGMA
CIT Group


View our previous award recipients:

NJCPA DIVERSITY & INCLUSION IMPACT AWARD NJCPA Women of Note NJCPA 30 Under 30


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