I want to take a moment to introduce myself to you. I am Calvin Henry Harris Jr., CPA, your new NYSSCPA Chief Executive Officer. It is an honor to serve the first and oldest state CPA society in America, and I am excited to join the Society during our 125th year and at such a critical time for the profession.
Like you, I am a proud Certified Public Accountant, licensed in Maryland since the late 1990s. But I have a confession to make: I’m only an adopted New Yorker, having lived in Brooklyn since 2019. Every New Yorker I knew in Maryland said, “Calvin, you’ll fit right in,” and they were right. I love New York, and I’m here for good. I do tend to cheer for sports teams from Washington, D.C., or Baltimore, but I’ve adopted quite a few New York teams as well. I’ve adopted the Nets and Liberty as my basketball teams (Nets season tickets since I came here), the Islanders for hockey (though the Rangers had an incredible playoff run), the Brooklyn Cyclones for baseball … and the Buffalo Bills for football.
Now, about my Maryland roots. I grew up in Oxon Hill, Md., a stone’s throw of Washington, D.C. My late mother was a high school bookkeeping teacher and provided my first awareness of the accounting profession. My father is a retired civilian worker for the Department of the Navy and was a math major. With parents like those, the accounting profession was a natural destination for me. I’m a big believer in early accounting awareness—such as through our COAP initiative. I’m convinced that when young students truly understand how great the accounting profession is, and the powerful opportunities that come from being a CPA, then we can improve our pipeline. I’m proof of it!
I went to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated with honors, with a degree in accounting. I felt the pull of the then–Big Five, and joined the audit team of Arthur Andersen in its Baltimore office. I cherished my time at Andersen, and have maintained close friendships to this day from that office. But ultimately, I realized that public accounting, while arguably one of the best ways to start your career, wasn’t where I would make my mark. My best fit has consistently been in roles at an association, foundation, or not-for-profit.
In my 30-year career, I’ve been an auditor, forensic accountant, controller, chief financial officer, and wind-down consultant, among other roles. I am a lifetime member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), where I served as national president/board chair a decade ago, as Baltimore Chapter president, and even as student president of Morehouse College’s NABA chapter. And before coming to New York, I was an active member of the Maryland Association of CPAs. As a volunteer, I still serve as chair of DC Doors, a charity that provides housing support for various communities in Washington, D.C.
It’s safe to say that I have seen the accounting profession through many lenses. I truly think that the accounting profession is the best gig there is. Without my CPA, many of the opportunities above would not have been available to me.
But that is part of the beauty of the accounting profession, and being a CPA. No matter what type of organization makes you feel most at home, it will have a place for a CPA. Very few professions have this type of flexibility. Admittedly, we don’t message that to future accountants as well or often as we should, and that is something we can lean into when it comes to filling the pipeline.
I’m a huge believer that our pipeline challenges cannot be adequately solved with just one pipe, so to speak. We need multiple options to truly engage more young people in this great profession. I am a fan of trying multiple, simultaneous approaches to make real impact. As you may soon notice, I tend to be more of an “and” person instead than an “or” person.
The accounting profession is one of the most noble there is. I cannot begin to express how proud I am to be a Certified Public Accountant. We receive the trust of not just the public at large, but our state. It is a bond that we must respect—and admittedly demand that respect be reciprocated. .
I happen to believe the CPA is as relevant now as ever. That is why I am so excited to join the NYSSCPA as your new Chief Executive Officer. In me, you not only have one of your own as a leader, but someone who has direct professional knowledge of many of the challenges the profession faces. I’m so excited to continue the great work of Joanne Barry, to lead and move the profession forward for the benefit of CPAs in the great state of New York.
For the profession,