WilkinGuttenplan Partner Karen Artasanchez gets high praise from clients and colleagues alike. A repeat Power 50 Accounting honoree, she is a shareholder in the firm’s tax department and specializes in complex tax matters as well as mergers and acquisitions. From structuring deals, analyzing transactional tax implications, and running due diligence, Artasanchez is dedicated to getting the deal done for her clients. “It’s not unusual to see her in the office and on the phone at 11:00 p.m., working right along with everyone else to make deadlines,” say insiders. Artasanchez is the practice leader of the firm’s Professional Practice group, focusing her talents and knowledge across strategic planning and compliance services, working with law firms and other professional service firms, as well as emerging and established businesses in the manufacturing, life sciences and pharma, technology, and food service industries. Within the firm, Artasanchez — a Lean Six Sigma CPA Green Belt — also focuses on issues like process improvement, leading a team that continually evaluates the way WilkinGuttenplan teams handle tax return workflows. She’s helped to standardize the process, so staff can easily work with multiple partners and managers without worrying about adapting to different styles. “Thanks to Karen, we’ve been able to elevate our already-highly regarded customer service yet another notch,” notes one knowledgeable insider. “She’s an integral part of the firm.”
Bellomy has worked alongside the food, beverage and retail industries for three decades, helping such businesses secure financing, maximize tax benefits, understand regulations and code, and move through mergers or acquisitions. As partner in Withum’s Red Bank office and practice leader of the firm’s consumer products services group, he’s a go-to guy for restaurants, food and beverage companies, and retail businesses to tackle challenges head-on; and he has expertise in the construction, distribution, manufacturing and professional services industries.
Blake is a multiyear Accounting Power 50 honoree with more than a quarter century of accounting experience. In addition to serving as Mazars COO, he is a member of the firm’s executive committee and chairman of the Praxity North America accounting and consulting alliance, working with leadership of member firms in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Blake is a licensed CPA in both New Jersey and New York, a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, and has served in leadership roles in each organization. The Mazars COO regularly speaks at client and executive seminars, industry events, and before various professional associations. Throughout his tenure, Blake’s experience has centered on providing service to mid-size clients, including domestic manufacturing and distribution companies, along with global importers and exporters. Much of his work as COO focuses on the operations components of Mazar’s strategic plans. Blake has been a member of the POB Board at Mazars Global for more than 10 years, contributing extensively within the Mazars Global COO community and across various committees. He was also a 2021 NJBIZ Leaders in Finance honoree.
James Bourke Jr.
James Bourke has been busy lately. Withum’s managing director for advisory services was named a top person in public accounting in 2021 – tying for the No. 8 spot – by Accounting Today. He’s been an active member of the NJCPA for decades, previously serving as president and as the former leader for the organization’s Monmouth/Ocean Chapter. And he is recognized for his advances in the technological and digital space. Accounting Today, in particular, drew attention to his work there, acknowledging Bourke as a “prime example of transformation from within” the industry when it comes to innovation, as opposed to drivers from outside vendors or industries. Over the past year, he’s been tapped for numerous speaking engagements, including events for IFAC (International Federation of Accountants), CalCPA (California Society of Certified Public Accountants), AIPCA/CIMA (Association of International Certified Professional Accountants/Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) and the Massachusetts Society of CPAs.
A partner at Livingston-based Citrin Cooperman and an expert in the rapidly growing cannabis advisory space, Carpenter was recognized on both the 2020 and 2021 NJBIZ Accounting Power 50 lists. Carpenter possesses more than 20 years of experience in audits, reviews, compilations and consultation, while providing litigation support and forensic accounting services. Serving as the co-chairman of the firm’s Cannabis Advisory Services Practice, Carpenter is regularly featured as a speaker and panelist at some of the industry’s biggest events, while regularly being used as a quoted source for journalists. He is also one of the co-leaders and co-founders of the firm’s Rainmakers Program, which participates in a number of firm initiatives. In addition to his cannabis advisory expertise, Carpenter works with clients in a number of specialized industries, including manufacturing and distribution, staffing, real estate, construction, architecture and engineering, and life sciences. Before his tenure at Citrin Cooperman, Carpenter served as an audit manager for a Big 4 firm, overseeing the its New Jersey Summer Mentor Program while serving as chairman of the Social and Networking Committee and a counselor and mentor to junior staffers.
As BDO’s Woodbridge assurance office managing partner, Castellano is responsible for overseeing the office’s audit practice development, which ranges from client satisfaction to employee recruitment and retention — and he’s helping the group to deal with technological and other changes within the wider profession. He is also leading his team into uncharted waters as the accounting profession grapples with a new addition to financial statement disclosures and estimates: ESG, or Environmental, Social and Governance. Growing concern over issues like climate change and gender-and-racial equality is driving more publicly held companies — along with accounting’s standard-setting Financial Accounting Standards Board — to consider ways to measure and disclose how businesses are responding to everything from warming temperatures to minority board and other representation. As such issues gain in importance, Castellano will be at the forefront of the evolution.
Christakos has now been named to the NJBIZ Accounting Power 50 list for three straight years and it’s easy to see why. Described by one top administrator as “the best accounting professor we have at Monmouth University’s Leon Hess Business School,” the specialist professor and former chair of the Accounting Department has been recognized by organizations like the NJCPA, which previously named him Volunteer of the Year and honored him with an Exceptional Educator Ovation Award. Christakos “encourages students to be their best” and “is highly ranked by students — but he’s not an easy marker; instead they respect him,” said a university insider. “And he can successfully teach a range of subjects, including finance, audit, tax, and advanced accounting.” He also developed goals to review the university’s accounting curriculum, ensuring it was current and relevant; and played a key role in hiring new accounting faculty. And as a partner and lead advisor at Westfield Wealth Management, Christakos brings a unique perspective to his students. They get a real-world view of accounting and finance, and can tap his network to help them land a job. Next semester, Christakos embarks on a new venture: a teaching position at Seton Hall University. The Hess School’s loss is SHU’s gain.
D’Anna is SobelCo’s first chief operating officer, leading day-to-day and strategic operations at the firm dubbed one to watch this year by Accounting Today. Her formal responsibilities include overseeing finance, marketing, IT, HR and administrative functions — “she’s quickly made a positive impact as an influential executive in the firm providing critical leadership,” said one insider. As COO, the 30-year industry veteran has enabled SobelCo to put its focus on operating effectively, adhering to the firm’s short-term goals while working toward its long-term strategic plans.
Scott Derco’s expertise extends across various industries. At Citrin Cooperman, he serves as co-leader of the Construction Practice, in addition to co-leader for the Manufacturing and Distribution Practice in the New Jersey market. In his work, Derco specializes in strategic planning for companies and their stockholders that aims to minimize taxable income, reduce risk exposure and maximize profitability. The board member and past president of the Construction Financial Management Association in New Jersey is well-known in construction and real estate circles, and within the accounting industry—having spoken in front of various industry associations and writing articles like last May’s guide to tax and accounting best practices for “Optometric Management.” He is also a member of the Subcontractors Association of New Jersey and Surety Association of New Jersey.
“I’m big on lead how you would have liked to have been led,” says DeRosa, a 2020 and 2021 Power 50 Accounting honoree. The senior tax manager at Wiss & Co. has more than 12 years of public accounting experience, specializing in tax issues for individuals and closely held businesses. Her tax knowledge has made her a go-to tax-related expert. In 2019, DeRosa was awarded the “Women to Watch” Ovation Award by NJCPA, which recognizes the growth and success of female professionals for their leadership, potential, contributions and commitment to fostering the success of their colleagues. Before that, in 2015, DeRosa was named to the NJCPA’s “30 Under 30” list of young professionals on the move in the state’s accounting space. DeRosa is also a Zumba Fitness instructor, who hosted a free weekly Zoom class during the pandemic, which provided an outlet for team members and colleagues. DeRosa is active in various charitable organizations, including St. Jude’s and the American Heart Association. “I gave myself a goal: I wanted to become a Zumba Fitness Instructor, but only after I got my CPA license – it was a both a challenge and a reward,” she said.
Diaz has been a partner at SKC & Co. CPAs, a firm she joined six years ago, since 2020. She specializes in working with entrepreneurs, focusing on developing strong relationships with her clients so she can understand their business models and how to keep them profitable. She ensures that her clients’ personal goals are in line with their business outcomes. Within SKC, Diaz aligns with the majority-women firm’s culture, acting as a mentor, and embracing flextime arrangements, in-house day care, unlimited PTO — during busy season — and other programs that enable employees to get work done without sacrificing time with family and other loved ones. Business groups and accounting publications frequently seek her out for her expertise and perspective.
Dorman co-leads the national food and beverage practice at Mazars, and has since his small firm merged into the company several years ago. More than 40 years into practice, Dorman leads a team of 20 professionals providing tax and accounting services to around 250 clients in every nook and cranny of the food and beverage space, including importers, manufacturers, distributors, exporters, food service, and retail and restaurants, including franchisors and franchisees. He told NJBIZ early in the pandemic that his passion is cultivating talent from below and that his legacy is the young accountants he brought into the practice. “It’s the seeds you sow,” Dorman said. “It was never about me.” He’s frequently sought after by food industry media for his knowledge and expertise, and is the creator of his own food business podcast Food for Talk.
Tracey Early and David Untracht
The pair founded Florham Park’s Untracht Early when they were both in their early 30s and have since expanded it to 150 people in three locations, serving high-profile clients – high net worth individuals and those in the alternative investment space (competing with firms much larger than their own for this work, and often winning it). Earlier this year, the outfit was one of three in New Jersey named as firms to watch by Accounting Today magazine. Untracht Early focuses on the consulting functions of its engagements and its professionals act as general business and financial advisors. Its clients rely on the firm not only for accounting advice but also for input on general business matters, tax strategies and strategic planning.
Epp is partner-in-charge of EisnerAmper’s manufacturing and distribution group and co-manages the firm’s food business practice. Epp is an audit partner and the partner-in-charge of EisnerAmper’s manufacturing and distribution group. A 30-year industry veteran, he is an active member on the Financial Executive International network, a Morristown-based organization for senior-level financial executives, where he previously served on the board of directors and was past president of the New Jersey Chapter.
Friedman is never satisfied with “good enough.” The Middlesex County resident co-launched the practice that became Prager Metis in January 1987 — as Spitz and Friedman — and never stopped growing. Today, as CEO of a firm with more than 100 partners and principals and 600 team members working at 23 offices across the U.S. and internationally, Friedman continues to seek out opportunities. In January, Prager became the first CPA firm in the Metaverse. “I see the Metaverse as a place where virtual business meets traditional business,” Friedman wrote on the firm’s web site. “In other words, any individual or entity conducting business in the Metaverse needs our services.” Fittingly, perhaps, Friedman is focused on the “the firm of the future,” with fast-forward initiatives like Rylti — a platform that leverages cognitive artificial intelligence to deliver real time auditing and monitoring of music royalties — and a soon-to-be introduced NFT, or non-fungible token. NFTs are units of data stored on a blockchain, or digital ledger, that provide assurance of the authenticity of a digital asset, and this initiative will manage and produce NFTs for the firm’s sports and entertainment clients.
Friedman is also helping to propel diversity, equity and inclusion activity at Prager Metis [the firm’s co-managing partner is a woman and No. 4 on this list, Lori Roth] and he’s observed that “the firm of the future doesn’t look like me, and the client of the future doesn’t look like me. So that needs to be reflected in the makeup of our partners and our employees.” As Friedman sees it, the next challenge involves transforming “legacy” accountants into “new-firm” advisors. But he views it as an opportunity, noting that “Intellectual curiosity doesn’t have an age.”
As associate director of Global Finance Talent at Merck, Victoria Ghafoor serves as a project manager in the company’s global finance department. Her full plate of responsibilities includes leadership programming, mentoring, talent management, and U.S. recruiting. She maintains a strong focus on career development and professional growth — last year, one of her top priorities was creating a user-friendly website for colleagues to use to more easily map out ways to further develop their careers. Ghafoor is also passionate about advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within the company. In addition to incorporating DEI initiatives into Merck’s recruiting strategies, she is deeply involved in internal coaching and development programs that are designed to create psychological safety within teams and to promote inclusion more broadly. Her background as a CPA at EisnerAmper, and as associate director, Internal Audit at Merck, helped prepare her for her current role, Ghafoor noted. “I continue to benefit from the privilege of managing and leading DEI efforts, the experience of developing best practices for important initiatives, and the chances that I was given to present to leadership,” she said. “It is the professional growth that I experienced through all these opportunities that inspires me to strive so hard to help others achieve similar success in their careers today.”
Sally Glick is a principal at SobelCo – one of “Accounting Today’s” 2022 “firms to watch” – and its chief growth strategist. What does that mean? She’s basically an ambassador for the firm. During an appearance on NJBIA’s Other People’s Business podcast last April – aptly titled “Sally Glick Knows Everyone” – she said her prior work as chief marketing officer – a role she spent more than a decade in – evolved as she made her own path. That path led her to holding distinctions as SobelCo’s first woman partner and first non-chargeable partner. Beyond that, Glick is the immediate past president – and a current board member – of the Association of Corporate Growth-NJ, an organization for middle market M&A dealmakers and business leaders focused on driving growth. She was recognized by CIANJ with an Enterprising Women in Commerce Award and took home an NBIZ ICON Award, both in 2021. In a publication recognizing the former achievement, Glick touched on her status as someone that everyone knows and the way it’s affected her work. “I believe that my passion for people has been the greatest advantage in my career–more important to my success than any specific marketing or business development technical skills,” she said, advising readers to be fully “present” as a means to achieve career success. And with a reputation like Glick’s, that’s advice to take to heart.
The widely respected Goldstein boasts extensive expertise in accounting spaces, such as construction, manufacturing, real estate, medical, retail and more. Goldstein directly supervises a team of CPAs while supporting local, national and international businesses. He is a member of the New Jersey and New York State Societies of Certified Public Accountants, as well as the American Institute of CPAs. Goldstein is a sought-after speaker, regularly addressing large organizations and nationally known groups. As an author, his articles routinely appear in local, national and international outlets. In his role as Goldstein Lieberman & Co.’s Audit and Accounting Department chairman, Goldstein is responsible for issuing interpretations on Generally Accepted Auditing Standards and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The hands-on leader is also a member of the firm’s Law Firm Services Group, which is responsible for the planning and coordination of financial reporting services for lawyers and law firms.
With more than 30 years of experience, Michael Hochman is partner and co-leader of the New Jersey Market at Grassi. He shares duties leading business in the Garden State with Ted Carnevale, who joined the firm following the acquisition of Gramkow, Carnevale, Seifert & Co. in April—an addition that Hochman was instrumental in arranging and then integrating for the firm. Hochman is passionate about advising business owners on how to grow their businesses and remain profitable, no matter the economic climate. That takes being up to date with the changing trends and needs of businesses. In April, he detailed to NJBIZ how the firm is evolving to help clients when it comes to a different kind of climate concern: assisting with ESG. “We’re talking about developing a service offering to help clients manage reporting requirements, and to develop policies and procedures for ESG,” he explained. “We’re still in the dialog stage, but we may bring on new people — it’s a developing segment and could open up new revenue opportunities for the firm.” Last year, Hochman’s leadership in the region garnered Grassi a No. 1 spot in NJBIZ Best Places to Work program, and the exec was named a Leader in Finance by the publication earlier in 2022. This year, he also joined the 2022 Jewish Home Foundation of North Jersey’s Golf and Tennis Outing committee.