Marylanders are populating yet another list of the accounting and finance profession’s top leaders.

The latest example are the 2020-21 edition of the Most Powerful Women in Accounting Awards, given annually by the American Institute of CPAs and CPA Practice Advisor to honor “women leaders who are helping to define and advance the profession.”

Among the 25 most recent honorees are:

Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, CPA, a former chair of both the MACPA and AICPA boards of directors and executive director of finance thought leadership at Oracle. A Baltimore native and volunteer in the profession for more than 20 years, she also is a former chair of the Association of Certified Professional Accountants, current chair of the AICPA’s National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, and president-elect of Beta Alpha Psi. Ellison-Taylor also serves as chair of The MACPA Foundation, which works to build a strong and diverse talent pipeline with resources for future CPAs and educators, supporting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, providing training, granting scholarships and facilitating mentorship connections in order to increase growth and engagement. Kimberly also serves on the board of advisors for several universities.

“Over the last few years, we have seen a heightened awareness that we need the best and the brightest — and that we’ve been missing women,” Ellison-Taylor said. “We need more women in our profession — at every level, in every aspect, and in every segment of our profession.”

Lexy Kessler, CPA, current chair of the MACPA’s Board of Directors and a partner with Aronson LLC. As a leader in her practice area and a former member of Aronson’s Board of Directors, Kessler also helps drive Aronson’s strategic direction and growth objectives. She currently serves 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 chair of Aronson’s Board of Directors, she advocates for women to pursue leadership roles. She was named by The Daily Record as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women for 2018 and 2020. She also is a recipient of the MACPA’s “Women to Watch” award in 2014 and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce’s Chairman’s Award in 2013.

“One of the things women can do is just believe in themselves, that they can do it and are worthy of it, because they are,” Kessler said.

“This year’s group of winners are an excellent example of the impact that women are making throughout the profession,” said Gail Perry, editor-in-chief of CPA Practice Advisor. “These leaders serve as an inspiration to a generation of women who are starting their career in the profession.”

The awards were announced virtually at the 2020 Women’s Global Leadership Summit and in person at the 2021 AICPA ENGAGE conference in July 2021.

You can hear more from Ellison-Taylor, Kessler, and all of this year’s 25 honorees in this tribute video.

Read more about this year’s honorees here.

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