Building a Bright Future for Pennsylvania CPAs

Sep 01, 2020

It is a privilege and an honor to serve as your 2020-2021 PICPA president. I’m proud to follow in the footsteps of Marty Levin and so many other excellent leaders who paved the way for the next generation. I pledge to serve the PICPA and its 20,000 members with honor, integrity, and positive energy, and to do everything I can to advance the profession that we all love and that has given us so much.

Over recent decades, there has been a radical evolution in the profession. We’ve embraced new technologies and a more comprehensive approach to integrating our advice and expertise into different aspects of our clients’ organizations and businesses. This engagement is more vital than ever as we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic. The virus keeps us all on high alert and demands unprecedented levels of strategy, reinvention, and preparation.

The pandemic may have altered the “where” and “what” CPAs worked on, but what it didn’t change was the “why.”
The accounting profession has been critical in so many ways as our clients and employers tackled the numerous challenges associated with the rapid shutdown and responsible reopening phases. We never could have imagined a three-month delay in the federal and state tax deadlines or that we would be advising on new and significant federal relief programs, such as the Paycheck Protection Program and the Main Street Lending Program. Beyond the technical guidance, we embraced the essential roles of confidant and sounding board as we helped with huge decisions about the future.

Against this backdrop, I’m kicking off my term as president with the goals of attracting new members and maintaining current members’ commitment to the PICPA.

To be the business advisers of today as well as tomorrow, we need to welcome the best and the brightest into our profession and support and nurture their professional development throughout their careers. Just as we counsel clients to prepare for the future with a succession plan, we too need a plan for the future of our CPA profession.

As the statewide advocacy, education, and engagement association for Pennsylvania’s CPAs, the PICPA is able to lead the way, aggregate talent, and pool resources to execute such a plan.

In my year as president, I’ll focus on two key components: increasing the talent pipeline for future CPAs and encouraging more active engagement from current PICPA members.

Increase the Talent Pipeline

Accounting is a rewarding career, but we need to educate more students at an earlier phase about the benefits of this path. Through the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation, the PICPA reaches students as early as middle school to raise awareness of the profession and engage them through a slate of programs, events, and activities. I encourage all accounting firms and members of industry to get involved with the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation to advance this effort. But that’s just one way we can impact the future.

I will continue to sing the praises of CPAs to anyone that I meet, and I hope you all do the same. We must all commit to connecting with the young people in our lives and communities, and engaging with local organizations and institutions to highlight our experiences and raise awareness of the benefits. Together, we can pave the way for a bright future.

Keep Members Engaged

Retaining PICPA members is essential to the continued success of the accounting profession in Pennsylvania. Active engagement in the PICPA has a strong correlation to member retention. Engaging in PICPA-sponsored education programs is just one of the ways that members can become more involved. Not every CPA aspires to have a leadership role in the Institute, such as on the PICPA Board or Council; however, there are many other ways to join in. Take on a chapter- or state-level post, contribute content to the Pennsylvania CPA Journal, the CPA Now blog, the CPA Conversations podcast – the list goes on. I encourage all PICPA members to reflect on how their membership has enhanced their career and consider ways to stay engaged. Your input is valuable, and our association is stronger because of it. Then, pay that forward by encouraging fellow PICPA members, other CPAs, and colleagues to get involved. If we all can generate deeper engagement from just one other person, collectively we can make a profound impact on the PICPA.

Once again, thank you for the honor of serving as your president this term and for your continued support of the PICPA. I look forward to the change we can drive together and improving the experience of being a CPA in Pennsylvania. Please feel free to reach out with your thoughts, suggestions, or feedback. 

Jill E. Gilbert, CPA, CGMA, is a partner with the audit services group of RKL in Lancaster and 2020-2021 PICPA president. She can be reached at

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