Theo Sutton, tax intern, Christine Aspell, Managing Partner, and Sean Ryan, audit intern, KPMG
Theo Sutton, tax intern, Christine Aspell, Managing Partner, and Sean Ryan, audit intern, KPMG Baltimore

Baltimore native Theo Sutton, a tax intern at KPMG’s Baltimore office, got more than he hoped for out of his experience at the MACPA’s annual CPA Day on January 26 at the state capitol in Annapolis, MD.

After sitting in on the initial prep sessions offered by MACPA leadership to the 100+ attendees at the CPA day program, Sutton and his fellow attendees received their program itineraries to fan out and meet with their respective members of the Maryland General Assembly and State Senate.

Arriving at Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam’s office, Sutton was greeted by staffers who listened attentively to the issues that he presented, including MACPA’s support of Comptroller Peter Franchot’s Taxpayer Protection Act. Noting Sutton’s maturity and earnestness, the Senator’s staff explained that she was attending a meeting of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and asked if he would like to observe the meeting.

Sutton was excited and grateful for the opportunity to sit in on the Legislative Black Caucus meeting. Although the meeting was wrapping up, the Members were very cordial welcoming him and asked him to share a little bit about himself.

Explaining he was a Sophomore at Drexel University, completing his first six-month coop experience with KPMG in Baltimore, Sutton said the group was having a discussion about issues in Education, adding, “they turned around and asked me what I thought!”

Legislative Black Caucus

“Growing up in Baltimore County my entire life,” said Sutton, “when you see all the delegates there who represent your County – it was Whoa – amazing! One of those moments you think, ‘Wow, I’m actually here right now!”

Noting names of delegates and state senators in the Black Caucus meeting that had grown familiar to him, including Benjamin Brooks, Jay Jalisi, Adrienne Jones and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, “When you hear all those names all the time growing up, about people who are so passionate about what they do for the community,” it really meant something to him to be in that room.

Sutton shared that the members of the Black Caucus were focused on the most prevalent issues in communities today: how do we work together to reach a common goal where there is betterment of everyone in the community, not just for African Americans, but if we can make a difference for everyone.

Why MACPA?

Why was participating in MACPA programming, and CPA Day in particular, of interest to Sutton? He explained, “My campus recruiter had invited me to CPA Day so I could get a better understanding of what the CPA is, that there are people out there to assist you on your journey. Christine Aspell, Managing Partner, KPMG Baltimore, encouraged Sutton and other interns to attend along with experienced tax and audit pros.

“CPA Day was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of both the accounting side of issues and the legislative side of the accounting world,” said Sutton, showing him that, “Being a CPA is a lot more than just having 3 extra letters after your name, it’s learning about the senate bills and house bills that affect us which are really eye-opening, and that there’s a large voice we can convey as CPAs to the state, showing its more than just a certificate or piece of paper, but it’s what we make of it that counts.”

During the lunch session with legislators, Sutton sat with some MACPA members from District 9, and much of the discussion turned to the MACPA’s support of the Taxpayer Protection Act, Senate Bill 304. (See: MACPA to Testify in Support of Taxpayer Protection Act).

“Learning about the Taxpayer Protection Act was really cool,” says Sutton, adding, ”it is good to see there is representation for taxpayers, that there are things that can be done to protect taxpayers.”

Sutton returns to school at Drexel in early April, and looks forward to more involvement with MACPA during internship periods that alternate with school sessions. Does he think he’ll visit the MGA Black Caucus again? “Sen. Nathan-Pulliam said whenever I am available, to just give her a call, and they would have some room for me.”

The experience of CPA Day left a strong impression on Sutton. “One thing that really caught my eye was just how busy – yet organized – everything is: everyone is flying from place to place a million miles an hour, there’s a lot of meetings, discussions.” He also saw certain parallels between how CPA Day was conducted and the proceedings of the Black Caucus meeting he observed briefly.

“There’s almost a one-to-one comparison, everyone was respectful of each other’s ideas, whether we were talking to the Deputy Comptroller, or any delegate, senator or staff member, you may have a lot of ideas flying around in your head, but everyone has a voice, everyone can have input – no matter what level you are.”

Sutton speaks highly of the coop program he’s in at Drexel. “The Internship is so you understand what you are doing in your field, and you get credit hours once you complete your internship.”

Hat’s off

How did Sutton decide on KPMG for his internship?

“Going into accounting was a choice I made on my own,” says Sutton. “I golf, and growing up watching golf, the first company I ever saw was KPMG with Phil Mickelson wearing their hat, and I said, I either want to be really good at golf so I can be sponsored by them, or really good at accounting so I can work for them!”

Sutton says he is looking forward to many more CPA Days in the future, and other benefits of being a MACPA Student member.  “I am a long way from graduating at this point, but it’s nice to have a clear goal in mind and a group to help me get there.” Check out MACPA’s Student Leadership Academy.

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