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LCPA Announces 2023 Service Award Recipients

August 11, 2023

The Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants (LCPA) Annual Awards honor members for their remarkable contributions to the CPA profession and the communities they serve. Seth Norris, 2022-23 Chair, recognized the following individuals at our Annual Meeting on August 9.

The Outstanding CPA in Business and Industry Award recognizes the contributions of an individual who utilizes the comprehensive skills and competencies of a CPA for the effective performance of an employer. For the first time in the award’s history, LCPA presented two individuals with this honor.

Jodee Daroca, CPA, joined Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana in 2004 as CFO. Soon after operations came to a halt due to Katrina. Jodee was instrumental in restoring operations, and making sure employees and clients were cared for. Then, in 2020, shortly after she was appointed President and CEO, she faced another disaster…Covid…that shut down everything — and for a nonprofit that serves 23 parishes throughout Southeastern Louisiana, it was devastating. That's when Jodee's creativity kicked in, and she developed inventive ways to partner with other community organizations, such as Second Harvest Food Bank and the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, to continue providing to those in need. It's Jodee's dedication, leadership, and utilization of her CPA skills that's led Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana to open new donation centers, remodel existing retail stores, launch a new DEI employee program, and support workforce development to individuals with disabilities and other barriers to reclaim their independence — that's the power of work.

Joe Zanco, CPA, is President and Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst Bank. Prior to Catalyst, Joe has held positions at Home Bank and Iberiabank leading the financial, accounting, and treasury functions of each institution to exceptional growth, even in difficult economic times. His focus has not only been on ensuring the financial strength of his own companies, but also on helping local businesses grow and create jobs. Anyone who has ever worked with Joe knows he is a dynamic leader, who leads with confidence, and an optimistic viewpoint that anything is possible. Joe is humble, not afraid to tell the truth even when it makes him vulnerable. It’s also worth noting how impactful Joe has been as a mentor,  nurturing young professionals and encouraging involvement and leadership within LCPA. Joe will receive his Outstanding CPA in Business & Industry award at the Financial Institutions Conference in September.

The Special Recognition Award pays tribute to outstanding, altruistic service to the Society and the profession. LCPA presented two Special Recognition Awards.

Ricky Burke, CPA, is the Chair of the Financial Literacy Committee. In that position, he has furthered the group's mission to provide financial education opportunities for all ages. From preschool to business owners, Ricky is a financial literacy champion. When Junior Achievement needs a classroom volunteer — he steps up every time; when there's an opportunity to showcase CPAs at career fairs, he stands present and proud. When Covid closed schools, Ricky found a way to provide virtual financial literacy for underserved children in Baton Rouge. He's helped LCPA build strategic alliances with the Urban League of Louisiana, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Orleans Public Defenders, and soon a new program with Delgado Community College to provide financial literacy programs. Ricky has his own CPA firm in New Orleans.

Daniel Gardiner, CPA, has nearly three decades of invaluable experience in the accounting industry. Now, as a partner in the firm EisnerAmper, he maintains a forward-looking approach to the profession and a people-first perspective. Prior to joining the firm, Dan was the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Postlethwaite & Netterville, the largest Louisiana-based accounting firm and a leader in the profession. His unique career path and variety of experiences have instilled in him a focus on innovative solutions to the problems that face an evolving industry. Dan has always been supportive of his staff’s involvement in serving on committees, speaking at LCPA events, and volunteering within the community. He has consistently demonstrated a willingness to go above and beyond in his work and in creating opportunities for those around him. 

C. Burton Kolder, CPA, CGMA, CGFM, CFE, received the Life Member Award to recognize his extensive record of achievement to benefit the future of CPAs throughout Louisiana. With 46 years as a CPA and LCPA member, Burton has distinguished himself by being the managing partner of a successful ongoing, midsized public accounting practice since 1997 with eight locations in the southern Louisiana. Under Burton's leadership as managing partner, the firm grew by over 700%. As a “Get-it-done” leader, around the firm, you would hear him say things like: “I don’t need excuses. I need results” or “Lead from the front.” He expected the best, but he gave his best, too. In addition to his CPA and CGMA, Burton was awarded the designation of Certified Government Financial Manager and Certified Fraud Examiner. Although he retired in 2022, he remains a passionate mentor and leader who leads by example. As part of this award, a donation will be made in his honor to the Louisiana CPA Education Foundation to support scholarships for accounting majors. 

Nene Gianfala, CPA, ABV, ASA-BV/IA, received the Outstanding Discussion Leader Award. The prestigious award is given annually to the Louisiana discussion leader based on number of hours taught, evaluations of participants, and overall quality of courses. Nene has been a consistently highly rated speaker on topics related to business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and ESG to name a few, and is a contributor to Lagniappe magazine. She is Vice President of Chaffe & Associates and an adjunct professor at the University of Holy Cross. 

Ron Gitz, CPA, CGMA, received the Distinguished Service to the Profession Award. The award is presented to CPAs who have consistently rendered distinguished service to the Society over a long period of time. LCPA’s Executive Director & CEO Ron Gitz has distinguished himself as highly respected not only in Louisiana, but across the country. He is looked to for his knowledge and sought after for his enthusiasm and passion. Ron has brought vibrancy to our organization, strengthened our advocacy efforts, and transitioned us to our new home at the Metairie Member Center. His transformative vision has guided our association forward and challenged us to think differently and imagine better. Ron is a past president of the Northshore Chapter.

Jodie Arceneaux, CPA, was selected to receive the Distinguished Public Service Award. This award the highest honor for public service leadership, impact, involvement, and innovation of a Louisiana CPA. Jodie is a dedicated volunteer, a professional, and an advocate for the people of her community. She has given countless hours to organizations such as Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans promoting financial literacy to youth; Habitat Humanity where she pioneered a new role in future homeowners how to budget and manage finances. She also supports the business community with her service at the Bayou Industrial Group, the South Central Industrial Association. Jodie's award will be presented in December at the Tax Conference.

Our Women to Watch Awards honor female leaders in the profession and their work as mentors in encouraging other female leaders to excel. The awards recognize women who demonstrate characteristics that have enabled them to become inspirational leaders in the profession and in their communities. These awards will be presented at the Women’s Conference, August 25th in Baton Rouge.

Wendi Berthelot, CPA, (on the left), will be honored with the  Women to Watch Experienced Leader Award. Wendi is the Director of Audit and Assurance Services at LaPorte CPAs and Business Advisors in Baton Rouge. She is highly skilled in the technical aspects of the regulations that affect her clients, but goes well beyond that basic level of competency. She truly embraces her role as an advisor to her clients to help them achieve their goals. Although Wendi has always had a focus on helping others grow in their careers, she embraces her role as leader and mentor by engaging the team during strategy meetings and rallying the troops to meet important deadlines. On a deeper level, Wendi also provides one-on-one coaching through LaPorte’s formal mentorship program.

Trish Thibodeau, CPA, (on the right), will be honored with the Women to Watch Emerging Leader Award. As Senior Manager, Audit and Assurance Services, in LaPorte’s New Orleans office, Trish directs the activities of multiple audit teams simultaneously with up to five members per team. In addition to her client responsibilities, Trish leads in the recruitment, retention of new team members. In addition to her work onboarding new team hires, Trish serves as a coach in her firm’s Impact Leadership Coaching, helping mentees set goals, meet life’s challenges, and balance work and family obligations. She also serves as a leader of LaPorte’s Community Service Committee, overseeing our philanthropic activities.