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Florida Institute of CPAs Names 2024 Women to Watch Honorees

Nominations for the 2025 awards will be open from Dec. 1, 2024, through Jan. 15, 2025, with winners to be announced at MEGA 2025.


On Thursday, June 13, as part of the Women’s Leadership Summit at MEGA 2024, the FICPA presented its annual “Women to Watch Awards”, honoring Experienced Leader Cristina Hale and Emerging Leader Carmen Velasquez.

“The Women to Watch Awards recognize and celebrate the women among us who exemplify leadership excellence,” said FICPA President & CEO Shelly Weir. “I thank them for the contributions they’ve made to both the FICPA and the profession and the inspiration they continue to provide to their colleagues.”

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Melanie Griffin was on hand at Universal Orlando’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort to congratulate all 22 Women to Watch nominees and serve as the Women’s Leadership Summit’s keynote speaker.

Hale is the Tax Practice Leader at BDO USA’s Tampa and Orlando offices, where she oversees compliance and quality control. She developed her knowledge and technical skills over a 20-year career that’s taken her from Miami to Washington D.C., Boston, Abu Dhabi and Tampa. She is a regular volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and Feeding Tampa Bay and sits on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters Tampa Bay.

Velasquez is a partner and owner at Tapia, Rojas & Associates and has distinguished herself early in her career through her experience in the Common Interest Realty Associations industry. She is a member of the FICPA, AICPA and Community Association Institute and serves on the FICPA’s CIRA Committee, Young CPAs Committee and Women in Leadership Committee.

The Experienced Leader Award is reserved for women who have risen to leadership positions after more than 10 years in the profession.

The list of 2024 nominees included: JoAnn Ackerman (Nova Southeastern University), Sharon Bradley (CohnReznick), Kathleen Braica (Anchin Private Client), Laura Chirichigno (Ellenton CPA), Ashlie Forum (Marcum), Vivian Gant (De La Hoz, Perez & Barbeito), Katie Gilden (Fiske & Company), Marena Loeffler (Allure Interational Tax Consulting), Barbara Nooney (Flavin, Nooney & Person), Leslie Welsh (Leslie Welsh, CPA).

The Emerging Leader Award recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the profession in the early stages of their careers.

The list of 2024 nominees included: Katie Carabeo (RSM US), Neemie Chery (PYA, P.C.), Karol Haugan (Withum), Tyler Heckman (Flavin, Nooney & Person), Dana Landress (RSM US), Leah Lewis (Blue Heron CPAs), Emily Ray (RSM US), Savannah Snow (Berkowitz Pollack Brant), Alex Welsh (A-LIGN) and Katelyn Wonsock (Carr, Riggs & Ingram).

Nominations for the 2025 awards will be open from Dec. 1, 2024, through Jan. 15, 2025, with winners to be announced at MEGA 2025.