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Meet the 2020-2021 MACPA Board of Directors

MACPA Officers

Chair: Avonette Blanding, CPA

Maritime Applied Physics Corporation
Chief Financial Officer
Notable: An MACPA member since 1999. In the early stages of her career, gained experience in finance and internal audit with one of Baltimore’s largest employers and in public accounting with a regional firm. Joined Maritime Applied Physics Corporation in 2006 as controller; a year later, was promoted to chief financial officer. An active member of the MACPA’s Government Contractors Committee and an active CPA Career Awareness volunteer speaker.

Vice Chair: Lexy Kessler, CPA

Aronson LLC
Lead partner, Government Contract
Services Group
Notable: An MACPA member since 2016. Has more than 30 years of experience in assurance, tax, and consulting. As a leader in her practice area and a member of Aronson’s Board of Directors, she also helps drive Aronson’s strategic direction and growth objectives. Currently serving as chair of the AICPA’s PCPS Executive Committee. Her reputation as an expert in her field is part of the personal brand that makes her sought-after speaker, and she has provided interviews and expert commentary to such media outlets as the Wall Street Journal, Federal News Radio, Law360, and Federal Times. As the first female chairman of Aronson’s Board of Directors, she advocates for women to pursue leadership roles. Named by The Daily Record as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women for 2018. Recipient of the MACPA’s “Women to Watch” award in 2014 and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce’s Chairman’s Award in 2013.

Secretary/Treasurer: Herbert J. Geary III, CPA, CGMA

Managing partner

Notable: An MACPA member since 1988. Has more than 30 years of accounting and auditing experience, specializing in areas that include closely held businesses, manufacturing, wholesalers, distributors, construction contractors, local governments, and non-profits. Has served on the MACPA’s Board of Directors and as a past president of the Eastern Shore Chapter of the MACPA. Currently, the past chairman of the Peninsula Regional Health System and a member of the Greater Salisbury Committee.

Immediate Past Chair: Ray Speciale, ESQ., CPA

Mount St. Mary’s University
Associate professor

Notable: A member of MACPA since 1993. Since 1989, has been a professor of law and accounting at Mount St. Mary’s University. A commercially rated pilot and flight instructor who operates a law practice dedicated exclusively to aviation-related legal and tax matters. In addition to his posi-
tion at Mount Saint Mary’s, Speciale has his own CPA practice in Frederick, where he specializes in aviation matters, commercial law, taxation, and estate administration. Has written two books and numerous articles on issues impacting aircraft owners and pilots. From 2007 to 2013, served as the educator member of the Maryland State Board of Public Accountancy.

MACPA Directors

Christine Aspell, CPA

KPMG LLP, Baltimore
Managing partner / audit partner

Notable: An MACPA member since 1991. Has more than 25 years experience in providing assurance services to clients in the financial services industry and specializes in serving clients in banking, investment services, insurance, and real estate. Partner-in-charge of the Baltimore chapter of KPMG’s Network of Women, where she established the chapter in 2004. A member of KPMG’s Women’s Advisory Board, which helps oversee
the advancement of women. Chair of the Loyola Accounting Advisory Board. A member of the Greater Baltimore Committee Board of Directors, the Downtown Partnership Board of Directors, the Center Club Board of Governors, the My Sister’s Place Leadership Council, the Maryland Zoo, the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, the New America (Better Life Lab), and the St. Ursula School Finance Committee. A “Maryland Top 100 Women” winner in 2012, 2015 and 2018.

Tricia Griffis, CPA

Frederick County Government
Director of Internal Audit

Notable: An MACPA member since 2016. Also serves an internal audit role for Frederick County Public Schools and Frederick Community College. Prior to her experience with Frederick County, she was a senior manager with CohnReznick for 13 years, with expertise in state and local government, affordable housing, real estate, development, and construction. Continues to work part-time during BusySeason in assisting CohnReznick in a review function. A thought leader with the MACPA’s Business Learning Institute. A founding member of the MACPA’s Mentoring Program who has served as an MACPA mentor for three years. A nominee in 2016 and 2017 for the MACPA’s “Women to Watch” awards and a proud
member of the MACPA’s Diversity and Inclusion Program. Recognized in 2012 by Baltimore SmartCEO magazine as one of Baltimore’s top accountants. In addition to her volunteer efforts with the MACPA, Tricia is a board member with the Mental Health Association of Frederick County and leads as co-chair for its annual black tie gala, the “Catoctin Affair.” Also leads education efforts on behalf of the Maryland Government Finance Officers Association.


Clifton Larson Allen LLP
Managing principal, Maryland region

Notable: A past managing partner of the Washington, D.C., region and the Federal Government Practice at CLA. A practice principal in the Federal Government Industry segment. In more than 31 years of practice, has held various leadership positions in the local office, region, and firm, helping to shape strategic focus and direction while driving growth and increasing profitability both at the local office and the firm. A key player in starting the firm’s commercial and federal government practices in the DC region, resulting in CLA becoming a Top 10 firm in the local market.

Leon Katsnelson


Director and CTO, Strategic Partnerships for Data Science

Notable: Joined the MACPA’s Board of Directors in June 2018 as a public (non-CPA) member. Award-winning international speaker and a published author who is always up on the cutting edge of technology trends. As director and CTO of IBM Strategic Partnerships for Data Science, leads a team of data scientists focused on artificial intelligence, machine learning, Big Data, and other applications of cognitive technologies in all areas of human endeavor. A strategic adviser to a number of startups, helping disrupt technology laggards with new business models based on blockchain, the Internet of Things, and A.I.

Tim Samuel, CPA

Bridgeway Community Church

Notable: An MACPA member since 2012 and a graduate of the MACPA’s Leadership Academy. Has more than 10 years of not-for-profit experience, including leading people from all walks of life through various platforms to feel connected to their purpose and motivated throughout the week. By celebrating the diversity of colors, classes, and cultures, Bridgeway Community Church has become an international model for multicultural ministry, attracting more than 4,000 people weekly from more than 50 nations. An advisor-at-large of Christianity Today’s Church Law and Tax. Has served on the MACPA’s Task Force for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. Has served as treasurer for Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center in Howard County.

Thomas White, CPA, CGMA

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
Director, operational and management accounting

Notable: An MACPA member since 2010. Has more than a decade of accounting and audit experience in various industries, currently focusing on health care. Has extensive knowledge of health care finance, internal audit, and compliance. Started his career in public accounting with large firms, focusing on international, public, and non-profit clients. Transitioned into industry at CareFirst. An active MACPA volunteer, including involvement with the association’s mentor program, Scholarship Committee, and Champions Program.

Richard C. Stang, CPA, ABV, PFS

DeLeon and Stang CPAs and Advisors
Founding partner

Notable: An MACPA member since 1991. Specializes in tax preparation and strategic planning for both businesses and individuals. Skilled at handling corporate and individual tax issues, estate planning, investment management and insurance advisory services. With over 25 years of experience in public accounting, Rich assists businesses with the development and implementation of accounting systems, budgets, and financial statements. He also consults with businesses in the areas of financial and tax planning. His previous experience with several large not-for-profit trade associations in various financial positions has given him valuable insight into helping his clients with their issues. A member of the AICPA and the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the Community Associations Institute. A board member with the Corporate Volunteer Council of Montgomery County and The Asbury Foundation. Serves as treasurer of Community Ties, Inc.


The W2 Group, LLC

Notable: An MACPA member since 2013. A graduate of the AICPA’s Leadership Academy and a recipient of the Black Enterprise Financial Fitness Award. Has been published and quoted in numerous publications and is a frequent contributor to industry events. Author of The Lies Our Parents Were Sold And Told Us: The New Rules Of Money Management. Selected in 2015 as one of Intuit’s National Trainer Writer Net-
work For Quickbooks consultants, and a member of the Intuit Accountants Council. An active member of the AICPA and a participant with the MACPA’s Task Force for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. A proud graduate of Bowie State University who serves as secretary of the BSU College of Business Alumni Advisory Council. Enjoys teaching financial literacy and money management at local non-profits and churches in Clinton, Md.

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