Accounting Awards Celebrate Student, Alumni Success

April 24, 2024

St. John Fisher University honored alumni with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Alumnus of the Year, and Rising Star Awards at the 34th annual Accounting Awards Celebration, held on Tuesday, April 23, at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

The crowd of attendees at the 2024 Accounting Awards.

Established in 1990 to acknowledge the accomplishments of notable Fisher accounting and finance alumni, this event celebrates program graduates and students who embody Fisher’s fundamental values. Award recipients showcase remarkable career success, notable philanthropic endeavors, and exceptional contributions to the Fisher community.

Neal Golding accepts the Accounting Lifetime Achievement Award from School of Business Dean Dan Connolly.

Neal Golding accepts the Accounting Lifetime Achievement Award from School of Business Dean Dan Connolly.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Neal Golding, known for his dedication, expertise, and unwavering commitment to Fisher and the accounting profession. After graduating from Fisher in 1969, Golding had a distinguished 44-year career, serving companies including the Robert Stigwood Organization, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Crum & Forster, and Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company.

After joining Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company in 1981, Golding advanced through various management roles, culminating in the positions of senior vice president and comptroller, vice president and comptroller, and vice president-internal audit. From 1994 until his retirement in 2003, he served as the senior vice president and chief financial officer, overseeing the corporate investment portfolio and other crucial responsibilities.

Golding is also a dedicated alumnus and philanthropist. He has made significant contributions to various capital and athletic programs at Fisher, and has been a consistent supporter of the University’s Annual Fund. His generosity stems from a desire to support the development of future Fisher students, providing them with essential resources and opportunities for success in both their academic and personal endeavors. Additionally, Golding and his wife have graciously hosted Fisher alumni, donors, and friends at their Palm Beach residence for events, fostering a strong sense of community and building lasting connections.

Cheryl Yawman presents the Alumnus of the Year Award to John Barden.

Cheryl Yawman presents the Alumnus of the Year Award to John Barden.

The Accounting Alumnus of the Year Award, a long-standing tradition in Fisher Accounting and Finance for more than 30 years, is awarded to individuals who embody Fisher’s core values. The criteria for the award include remarkable career accomplishments, notable humanitarian work, and exceptional contributions to the University. The 2024 recipient was John Barden, a graduate of the Class of 1983.

Upon completing his accounting degree at Fisher in 1983, Barden embarked on his professional journey in entry-level roles in public accounting. He served as a senior financial analyst and business assurance auditor at Coopers & Lybrand and an independent contractor for PricewaterhouseCoopers at the start of his career while also earning an MBA in accounting and finance from Manhattan College in 1988. In 1996, he shifted his focus toward academia, transitioning into higher education. Barden joined Binghamton University, initially as an adjunct professor, and later assumed a full-time faculty position and leadership of the MBA program.

Driven by a passion for advancing accounting education, Barden moved on to the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), drawn to its diverse student body and the University’s Naveen Jindal School of Management. He helped the school’s executive education program become a financially self-sufficient entity while also earning accolades in the classroom including the Jindal Faculty Idol of the Year award on two occasions and the Global Leadership Executive MBA Faculty of the Year Award.

Six alumni were honored with Rising Star Awards during the event. Introduced in 2004, the Rising Star Award acknowledges recent graduates of Fisher’s accounting and finance program for their accomplishments early in their careers as well as for their contributions to the University and broader community. The 2024 recipients included Alexandra Battle ’12, ’13 (MBA); Jason Norsen ’13, ’14 (MBA); Maria Siler ’14; John Housel ’13, ’14 (MBA); Brian Johnson ’13; and Anthony Venette ’13, ’14 (MBA).

Battle, a double Cardinal, completed both her undergraduate and MBA degrees at Fisher in 2012 and 2013, respectively. She began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited as an assurance associate and later progressed to a senior assurance associate. Transitioning to Mast-Jägermeister US Inc., she held the position of finance manager, and excelled in overseeing overhead cost management, budgeting, pricing strategies, and implementing cost-saving initiatives like the excise tax reform. She relocated to Florida in 2022, where she took on the role of sales manager for the southeastern region, an experience that paved the way for her current position as senior commercial finance manager for Mast-Jägermeister.

Norsen, also a double Cardinal, earned his Fisher undergraduate degree in 2013 and MBA in 2014. He initiated his career in public accounting at Freed Maxick before transitioning to private accounting. He worked as a revenue accountant at RiskLens and later became assistant controller, overseeing monthly financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting. Norsen facilitated the expansion of the accounting team and established a subsidiary in the United Kingdom. In 2021, he joined Brazen Technologies as a controller, managing software transitions and successfully setting up a Canadian entity. In 2024, he reached another career milestone by becoming the vice president of finance at Clear Force, Inc.

Siler graduated in 2014 with an accounting degree from Fisher before pursuing a master’s degree in tax at the University of Denver. Starting as a tax associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, she advanced to senior associate, nurturing her passion and expertise in taxation and tax law. Seeking specialization, Siler transitioned to Constellation Brands as a senior tax analyst. Currently, she serves as a federal tax manager, overseeing federal tax return filing and audit procedures, and offering vital assistance for the federal/consolidated provision process and state tax return submissions.

Housel obtained his bachelor’s degree from Fisher in 2013, followed by an MBA in 2014. Beginning his career in public accounting at Kasperski Dinan & Rink CPAs, he swiftly advanced to the role of manager. In this capacity, he supervised the audit and consulting for medium-sized businesses across various sectors and acquired his CPA certification in 2016. Housel transitioned to Regional Distributors, Inc. in 2022 as the director of accounting and finance. In his current role, he leads financial planning, reporting, compliance, and guides his team in enhancing the company’s accounting policies, procedures, and systems for future growth.

A 2013 graduate, Johnson later obtained his MBA from SUNY Oswego along with a CPA license in 2016. Beginning his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the assurance department, he contributed to audits for public companies and non-profits. Transitioning to Constellation Brands in 2018, he took on the role of senior accountant for the wine and spirits division. Today he holds the position of senior manager and leads a team overseeing month-end accounting operations. Apart from his managerial duties, he acts as a mentor, providing support and guidance to colleagues pursuing CPA licensure, and fostering an environment that encourages both professional and academic success.

Venette completed his undergraduate degree in accounting at Fisher in 2013, followed by his MBA in 2014. Beginning his professional journey at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the tax department, Venette later transitioned to Empire Valuation Consultants. There, he led a team handling various valuation and transaction advisory services, including mergers and acquisitions as well as financial reporting. Currently serving as a senior manager and director of the valuation and advisory practice at DeJoy & Co., Venette oversees business valuation and advisory activities. A proficient writer, he regularly contributes to Financial Advisor Magazine and on topics including gifting and transferring carried interest. His expertise was highlighted in a Newsweek article discussing the Supreme Court case Moore v. United States.

The celebration also highlighted the successes of outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in the accounting and finance program. Nearly 60 students were honored with scholarships and awards during the ceremony. The Accounting Awards Celebration is sponsored by the Accounting Alumni Society and the Department of Accounting and Finance in the School of Business.