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ABWA Scholars Shine at CalCPA 2024 Elevate Women’s Leadership Forum

Written by Tamarra L. Brown


The California Society of CPAS (CalCPA) and ABWA collaborated to promote women’s leadership by offering Scholarships for the 2024 CalCPA Elevate Women’s Leadership Forum, May 1-2. In this first-time partnership, 14 ABWA members, both students and emerging professionals, received scholarships to attend.

ABWA Members Shine at Elevate Event

Each recipient received a stipend of up to $1,500 for travel, meals, and lodging. Also in attendance were ABWA Board members Nefertiti Long (President), Kathy Johnson (Vice President), Marjorie McPike (Corresponding Secretary), Keisha Davis, and Tamarra Brown. ABWA was well represented throughout the event. Kathy Johnson was named the 2024 Women to Watch Award Winner in the Trailblazer category. Marjorie McPike moderated a Career Development session. Behind the scenes, Tamarra Brown served on the 2024 event planning committee. ABWA Scholars volunteered to take the stage and participate in interactive sessions on the art of connecting and networking.

Networking and Professional Development Opportunities Abound

Scholars started this year’s event by attending a pre-forum networking reception on April 30, followed by an ABWA family dinner. Day one of Elevate began with a breakfast honoring the scholars. Here, scholars mingled with scholarship sponsors and CalCPA staff. Dressed for success, the scholars moved to a photo shoot for free headshots
before the day’s sessions opened to about 300 in-person attendees.

Scholars Share Their Inspiring Experiences

“A big thanks to Alliance of Black Women Accountants for making it possible for me to attend this amazing event! Thanks to all our sponsors!” Precious Opaleke shared.
Elevate aims to offer professional development for women in accounting and finance at all career levels each year in a safe and positive environment. The space also allows attendees to network with accounting and finance leaders from across the state while being inspired and recharged by the wide-ranging yet connected sessions.

Aalani Richardson summarized: “The speaker sessions and panels were especially enlightening and inspiring, and I gained so much from the discussions of emotional intelligence, confidence redefinition, assertive communication, and holistic approaches to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.”

Day two of the event concluded with a final reception celebrating women to watch nominees and winners, and one last chance to network. “It was inspiring to meet so many powerful women,” Ashia Booker posted.

The 2024 Scholars were Ashia Booker, Anastaysia Cole, Reyna Clark, Devan Cotton, Ashley Gibson, Shaquala Harris, Maya King, Rosa Kybus, Precious Opaleke, Adebimpe Osibamiro, Aalani Richardson, Madrid Spain, Denise Taylor, and Mary Whiting.

A Successful Collaboration: Exceeding Scholarship Goals

CalCPA President and CEO Denise LeDuc Froemming during ABWA’s 2023 Academic Scholarship luncheon last November and promoted through ABWA’s website and newsletter. The original goal was to provide scholarships for up to 10 women aspiring to careers in accounting and finance. The scholarship was open to students and emerging professionals (five years or less experience in finance and accounting). To qualify, scholarship recipients went through a competitive application process.

Recognizing Our Generous Sponsors

ABWA also wants to thank the sponsors who contributed $21,000 to fund the scholarships for this fantastic professional and personal development event. Through their generosity, ABWA and CalCPA exceeded the original goal of sponsoring ten women: The Long Family, Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt LLP, Alta Loma Enterprises, Sorren McAdam, Miller Kaplan, Jeimy Ortiz (BofA) Crowe LLP, WINDES, Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP.

Looking Ahead: ABWA Academic Scholarship Luncheon 2024

To be among the first to see ABWA’s video from the 2024 Elevate event, plan to attend the 2024 ABWA Academic Scholarship Luncheon on November 2, 2024, at Glendora Country Club. Tickets are on sale now. Register for the 2024 ABWA Academic Scholarship Luncheon today!