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On June 1, we took time in our bi-weekly COVID-19 update to address the events that unfolded over the past week surrounding the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. While we all condemn the violence and destruction, we must condemn the racism and bias that we have seen in the past month, including the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and the confrontation in Central Park. 

First and foremost, I want to express our sincere and heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the families and loved ones of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. 

Second, I feel compelled to stand in solidarity with our African-American members and their families and friends in this time of grieving, anger, and pain. While I cannot begin to know the anger, frustration, anxiety, and fear from these events, I want them to know we are here to join them in combating bias and racism and to listen to ways we can help. The MACPA has led the profession in our work with diversity and inclusion, from the earliest days of the first black accounting firms to the first black chair of a state CPA society, and then the first black woman chair who went on to chair the AICPA. We must continue to lead from the front as we have done throughout our 120-year history.

I was reminded of Edmund Burke’s quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.” What can we do as CPAs to help? What should we do?

I turned to our volunteer leaders, who immediately changed their plans to join us in a discussion about these horrible events unfolding before us — our Chair Ray Speciale, our Vice-Chair Avonette Blanding, and past MACPA and AICPA Chair Kimberly Ellison-Taylor. Take a minute to read Kimberly’s post, “Wasn’t last time supposed to be the last time?” They agreed and supported our approach. Together, we talked about the need to continue our efforts around diversity and inclusion and eliminating unconscious bias in our profession and beyond. Then, our community responded from the grassroots on our Connect online platform and offered to help. One by one, they offered their support and help, and we are in the process of creating a new space for these conversations in our platform. Like throwing the proverbial pebble in the pond, we talked about how we can create those ever-widening circles of influence to make a positive impact in our profession and our communities.

Here are a few things we had in process and more that we discussed to help our community through these challenging times:

  • On Sept. 7, 2019, I signed a CEO pledge and joined more than 900 CEOs as part of the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™  This group will give us some great resources we can use and share with you to help accelerate this process.
  • At our Board meeting on Jan. 23, we approved a bylaws amendment to our MACPA Educational Foundation to add student recruitment, pipeline, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  • We agreed to start a new diversity and inclusion community to our Connect online member community. You can access that here.
  • We also agreed to host a town hall/day of understanding to have a conversation with our full membership.
  • We believe it is more important than ever to keep diversity and inclusion as a priority in our profession.
  • We know that we have to continue working hard on our advocacy to navigate this COVID-19 financial crisis at the federal and state levels.
  • We also know that we have to help Maryland get back to business and safely reopen our economy with the health and safety of our communities and employees.
  • And then there is the upcoming tax deadline of July 15!

We know all of you are on the frontlines of this financial crisis working to help your organizations and clients through this extraordinary crisis. Stay safe and strong. Together we can make it through this and come out even stronger! #MarylandCPAProud

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