Last year’s winner of the 2013 Maximo Mukelabai Award, Jeremy Dillard, CPA, keeps busy. When he’s not handling his responsibilities as a partner in his firm, Rivera, Jamjian, & Dillard, you might find him spending time with his wife and three daughters, or involved in a number of professional and personal volunteer activities, including the AICPA, the California Society of CPAs (CalCPA), the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, and the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA.
For readers who aren’t familiar with the Maximo Mukelabai Award, Jeremy received this award during the E.D.G.E. Conference in Austin, Texas, in August 2013, marking the second year this honor was given to a young CPA who exemplifies superior volunteer and leadership skills. The award was named in memory of Maximo Mukelabai, a CPA and graduate of the AICPA Leadership Academy whose life was tragically cut short several years ago.
Those who knew Maximo say his volunteerism came from a very personal place. Jeremy’s story is similar.
“When I was in college, my best friend from high school died from a heart defect,” he said. “Ever since then, I try to appreciate that there is a limited amount of time to make an impact. I try to make a difference because my friend never had a chance to.”
As a board member of the YMCA in East Los Angeles, Jeremy is chair of the Finance Committee, helps fundraise for the organization, and oversees the YMCA long-term finances. This organization serves the Boyle Heights District near Downtown Los Angeles, a neighborhood where the annual household income is less than $10,000 per year.
Jeremy became involved with the YMCA in 2007 when he was working at Deloitte. He stayed involved because of the impact the programming at the YMCA has had on low-income youth.
“The YMCA is doing incredible things to give kids the opportunity to improve their circumstance; in fact, it is one of three urban prototypes where they test special programming,” he said. “This includes youth development programs, diabetes prevention, film production, and youth in government. As a result of participating in these programs, kids are going to colleges like Stanford and Harvard, and coming back to take an active role in improving the community.”
Jeremy is also involved with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses. For the 2014 parade, he turned the floats around a corner right in the television broadcast area.
“There’s no pressure in this job!,” he said, jokingly. “Because of the size of the floats, the drivers can’t see when they turn the corner. If they don’t make the turn smoothly, millions of people who watch will know it’s all my fault!”
Jeremy doesn’t stop with personal volunteerism. A self-described “duck to water” accountant, Jeremy found in college that accounting just made sense to him and remains a fascinating career.
“Everyone depicts accounting as a boring profession, but I beg to differ. Everyone works hard, is fairly compensated, and gets to work with a huge variety of people. Being in public accounting is like a continuing MBA class. You work with a client, get a snapshot of their business, give some advice, and then you get to go back and see what they implemented.”
As a result, Jeremy is constantly learning new things to share with his clients. A natural extension of this is his volunteerism with the AICPA and the CalCPA. He is a current member of the AICPA’s Governing Council and the Technical Issues Committee, previously served on the Examinations FAR Committee, and was a technical reviewer for the AICPA’s IFRS Certificate. He also a member of the CalCPA Governing Council.
“One of the more important roles I play within the CPA profession is on the AICPA Technical Issues Committee,” he said. “People don’t always consider the impacts of new rules and regulations when they are written. As one of 13 audit partners around the country representing small and regional CPA firms, our committee meets with the boards that issue accounting rules and professional standards with the goal of improving the final rules that impact all businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and governmental entities, as well as the CPA firms which serve them.”
One of the added benefits of being so involved in the AICPA, according to Jeremy, is the opportunity to speak at conferences and webcasts, and even write or review AICPA publications. Jeremy has contributed to the AICPA book, Save Wisely, Spend Happily and authored the practice aid, The Engagement Letters: Best Practices and Examples and Internal Control for Today’s Smart Business.
“If it’s a matter of spending an extra hour going to a meeting or reviewing some technical documents, then I’m fine spending that to help others.” said Jeremy, “Chances are I would have otherwise just been watching TV.”
Where do you volunteer your time and what kinds of personal and professional benefits do you gain? Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.