Part 1 of 10
In honor of Black History Month, NCACPA would like to celebrate the diverse individuals who contributed to the success of the accounting profession and the association. Please join us in recognizing these trailblazers through a 10-part series of posts being published throughout February.
By D. Scott Showalter, CPA, CGMA, CGFM, Immediate Past Chair, NCACPA Board
The individuals highlighted in this series of posts represent minorities and have all made significant contributions to the accounting profession during their careers despite the many challenges they faced.
I’ll introduce everyone by asking a question that describes their respective contribution. I apologize in advance for any factual inaccuracies in this article. While researching, I ran across conflicting dates and proofs, settling on the facts that seem best supported. Either way, I don’t think it distracts from their significant accomplishments.
Who was the first African American woman CPA? This individual became the first African American woman CPA and the thirteenth African American CPA in the country in 1941. There would not be another African American woman CPA until 1968. She began her career in the 1920s working in a bank and later graduating from Northwestern University in 1943. As a student, she opened her own accounting firm in her basement that ultimately grew to one of the largest African American owned CPA firms. The firm focused on serving the needs of African American businesses and simultaneously helped train a whole generation of younger African American CPAs. Working in her firm became a point of entry to the accounting profession for young African American accountants. By the 1960s, Chicago was said to have a higher concentration of African American CPAs than any other city in the United States. In 1968, she and one of her associates formed the firm of Washington & Pittman. The firm became known as Washington, Pittman & McKeever, LLC, in 1976 when Lester McKeever joined. McKeever subsequently became chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Who is this individual? Her name is Mary T. Washington.