Juneteenth commemorates the freedom of enslaved African Americans in the United States, which was announced just over 150 years ago on June 19, 1865. For many African Americans, Juneteenth is both a celebration of how far we have come as a community and a reminder of how much further we still have to go.


In a time and age where we are still experiencing "firsts" in nearly every arena, be it politics, business, sports, entertainment, etc., I often reflect on my own career and experience, particularly in public accounting. As many other Black CPAs and professionals can likely attest to, it is not uncommon to be the first and/or only Black accountant in a room. A recent AICPA study reported only two percent of all U.S. CPAs are Black.

While many firms and organizations have created various diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) initiatives to improve representation in the profession, true progress will only be made if these efforts are consistent.


As an auditor for nonprofit organizations, many of whom saw a large influx in charitable giving due to the COVID-19 pandemic and racial justice movements during 2020, I have seen a downturn in those revenue trends over the last two years as donors return their attention to “business as usual.” The needs of these organizations have not changed just because the spotlight has dimmed; further, conversations and actions to diversify the accounting industry should not be limited to “eye-opening” headlines.

I feel fortunate to work with clients, such as The California Wellness Foundation, YWCA Greater Los Angeles and Saban Community Clinic, who share my passion for supporting our community, and I am equally as fortunate to work with GHJ, a Firm whose actions back up their words.

This past Juneteenth, while I reflected on the pain and sacrifices behind this holiday, I was joyful and reenergized about the work to be done. As a Black CPA and as a manager, I recognize my own role and responsibility in helping to advance and support our presence in this field. Whether it is promoting current programs or building new mentorship relationships, the opportunity to give back and pay it forward excites me.

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Amber Coatney

Amber Coatney, CPA, has nine years of public accounting experience and is a member of GHJ’s Audit and Assurance Practice. Amber provides accounting and auditing services to clients with a specialty focus on nonprofits. Prior to joining GHJ in 2022, Amber worked for a regional accounting firm in…Learn More