Ralph Albert Thomas, executive director of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA), recently received the Special Presidential Award for Professional Achievement from the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). The award cited Thomas' service to NABA and the accomplishments that brought him to his current leadership position at the 14,000-member NJSCPA.
"I feel very humble about receiving the award," Thomas said. "In my mind, I'm simply doing the things I should be doing. I'm especially grateful to be in a position where I can help guide the CPA profession into the future in a time of great change. This is a wonderful profession with tremendous opportunities for all young people. In particular, I am interested in providing greater access for African- American students. I believe accountancy is a field in which they can thrive."
A member of NABA since 1977 and a two-term president of the association, Thomas is a strong advocate for the organization and its role in the accounting profession. "NABA has been tremendously helpful to me personally," he said. "It has allowed me to meet people I might not otherwise have met at critical stages in my career. It also gave me my entrée into state and national CPA society activities."
From its beginnings in 1969, when only 136 of the nation's 100,000 CPAs were African-American, the organization has grown to include 51 professional chapters, more than 120 student chapters, and more than 60 minority-owned accounting and consulting firms. According to NABA, there are more than 5,000 black CPAs practicing today.
"I felt especially honored to have received this award in the presence of six of the original nine founders," Thomas said. "This is an organization you can believe in. It gives young African-American professionals the opportunity to develop the committee skills and leadership qualities they need to rise in our profession. It is focused and truly committed to its mission."
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