40 Under 40 Black CPA Award

Applications Open for New 40 Under 40 Black CPA Award

Press Release - Illinois CPA Society


In 1921, 25 years after the first certified public accountant (CPA) certificate was granted in the United States, John W. Cromwell Jr. became the first Black CPA. He opened a door through which thousands of Black accountants would eventually pass. With 2021 marking the 100th anniversary of Cromwell’s landmark achievement, the Black CPA Centennial—a year-long national awareness campaign recognizing Black CPAs in the United States and pushing for more progress to be made in achieving diversity, inclusion, and equity in the CPA profession—is proud to announce a 40 Under 40 Black CPA Award program to celebrate and honor Black CPAs who are positively influencing change in the CPA profession and their communities.

All 40 Under 40 Black CPA Award honorees will receive complimentary invitations for them and a guest to the Black CPA Centennial Gala to be held in Chicago on Nov. 12, 2021 where they will be presented with their awards and celebrated.


Award applications from eligible individuals are now being accepted online with a submission deadline of Aug. 15, 2021. A panel of judges will select the 40 honorees and all applicants will be notified of the panel’s selections by mid-September. Eligibility requirements and expectations include:

  • Identify as Black or African American.
  • Be below the age of 40 as of Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Be a CPA with an active license.
  • Be currently employed in an accounting or finance role and plan to continue in roles that promote and build the future of the CPA community.
  • Demonstrate a recognizable level of career success and outstanding performance.
  • Demonstrate the ability to exceed expectations in the workplace through examples of ambition, determination, and innovation.
  • Demonstrate the ability to make a positive impact in the community and/or CPA profession through a strong record of volunteer service.
  • Demonstrate an interest in leading, inspiring, and helping the next generation of Black CPAs.


“Recognizing those who break down barriers and inspire positive change in their personal and professional communities is a critical component of our mission to secure a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable CPA profession,” says Todd Shapiro, president and CEO of the Illinois CPA Society, one of the Black CPA Centennial’s organizing partners. “We’re honored to present these awards and hope that this will help drive momentum, encouragement, and support for more young Black people to join and succeed in the CPA profession. We look forward to celebrating the young professionals who are undoubtedly building upon the rich history and progress Black CPAs have made in the profession so far.”

Award honorees will not be required to attend the Black CPA Centennial Gala. All Black CPA Centennial celebratory activities will follow requisite local, state, and/or national COVID-19 precautions. The website www.BlackCPACentennial.cpa offers resources and information related to the Black CPA Centennial, including ways for individuals and organizations to participate.


About the Black CPA Centennial

The Black CPA Centennial is a year-long celebration in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the first Black CPA in the United States led by a consortium of organizing partners, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Diverse Organization of Firms, Illinois CPA Society, National Association of Black Accountants, and National Society of Black CPAs. Visit www.BlackCPACentennial.cpa for the latest information and event details or to support the celebration.

Media Contact:

Derrick Lilly

Assistant Director, Communications

Illinois CPA Society

312.517.7614 | lillyd@icpas.org

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