Kimberly Fitzgerald, PAFM Honored with ACE Award
During the awards presentation, Jane Johnson, MBA, CMPE, PAFM, outgoing CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA) President, noted Fitzgerald’s skills in professionally managing Squire, Lemkin & Company’s practice, including managing the administrative staff, overseeing all firm financial transactions and reporting, troubleshooting IT systems in coordination with the firm’s IT consultants as well as handling all human resource matters. She works closely with the managing partner as well as other partners in all aspects of firm management.
Through her extended involvement with CPAFMA, Fitzgerald is always looking for ways to improve the firm. From her participation in CPAFMA she brings ideas to the partner group on a myriad of firm management matters. Some straightforward technical issues but more importantly, concepts and ideas regarding the challenges of working with the diversified group of individuals that make up the firm. She understands the firm’s culture in large part to her contributions to implementing the various aspects of it and works hard to ensure it is always a priority.
Fitzgerald was the person that introduced the concept of the firm’s ongoing strategic planning initiative to the firm’s leaders. She brought the concept and consultant to the firm and has since managed the process.
Over the years the firm has developed processes, rules for compliance and best practices based on how the firm’s leadership team has chosen to operate. Fitzgerald consistently acts as a steward of those rules and processes. She is integrally involved in all partner level decisions and assists in prioritizing matters and has been an invaluable asset to the Managing Partner, Bart Lanman.
Firm founder John Squire met Fitzgerald when he joined Sarfino and Rhoades in 1986. She was the word processor and had started with the firm out of high school. She left the firm to become a firm administrator at a small local firm and a year later, in 1997, she was recruited to Squire, a newly formed firm, as a firm administrator, a position she has since embraced and elevated. “Our firm would be lost without her, not nearly as technologically advanced as we are, devoid of social functions, and so much more,” said Squire. “She is a mentor and leader while putting the firm first. She is a first rate, highly qualified administrator in a position that is often demanding and frustrating.”
The firm’s first managing partner, Susan Lemkin (now retired) had never managed a firm before. She relied on Fitzgerald to help her figure out how to manage a growing firm and to make sure the supportive and respectful culture was born. “She was and is the keeper of the key to our success,” says Lemkin. In addition to her day-to-day management responsibilities, Fitzgerald has been key in developing the firm’s recruiting program, incentive compensation program, social media presence and website. She oversees all technology for the firm including hardware, software, infrastructure and data protection.
During Fitzgerald’s twenty years as firm administrator, she has been instrumental in growing the firm from thirteen to over thirty-five people. She has guided the firm through three mergers, two expansions and a major office move. Her efforts with the firm’s strategic planning process has set the firm on a solid path for future growth and success.
The firm aspires to have a culture with respect for one another, where professional excellence is the standard, where open communication is the norm, and where everyone recognizes the individual responsibility of their interdependence in meeting individual and firm goals. Fitzgerald lives these core values every day and leads by example.
In recognition of her talents and efforts on behalf of the firm, the partner group invited her to become a Principal in 2016.
Fitzgerald was humbled and honored to receive the award. Her career is a testament to the role of the CPA firm manager.
The ACE Award is the profession’s most prestigious honor and has been presented to some of the country's most experienced and respected firm managers since its 1989 inception. Recipients must hold a senior-level administration position for a public accounting firm with criteria focusing on leadership and the administrator’s strategic impact on the firm's profits and growth.
In addition to the honor on a personal and firm level, Fitzgerald received a one-year complimentary CPAFMA firm membership, free attendance at the 2019 CPAFMA National Practice Management Conference partnered with AICPA ENGAGE in Las Vegas, and a handsome plaque.
CPAFMA is leading CPA firm practice management by empowering all CPA firms to thrive with resources and services to expand knowledge, share experiences, achieve through collaboration, influence leadership and envision possibilities. Many CPAFMA members put forth a great deal of effort toward educating the public accounting profession about the benefits of hiring professional firm managers to manage the business affairs of their respective firms. They have also largely shaped the profession, determined direction for firm management career pathing, and have been on the cutting edge of developments in our profession.