MAY 2015

  Date:  5/26/2015
  Doors Open:  6:00pm 
  Location:  Biltmore Hotel 
    2151 Laurelwood Road 
    Santa Clara, CA 95054 
  Presentation:  Annual Spring Gala event,
featuring Forgiveness by Dr. Fred Luskin
    Cost: Day of Event at the Door 
    $55 members/guests
Discount rate, register and pay using Paypal here 
    $50 members/guests
    $35 students





There are four sponsor levels of contribution established for the scholarship fund:

  • Bronze Sponsorship of $150.00
  • Silver Sponsorship of $300.00
  • Gold Sponsorship of $500.00
  • Platinum Sponsorship $750.00 or more

If you would like to be a sponsor, please contact Sue Stokke at:




Spring Regional Conferences are hosted annually by AFWA Chapters across the country. Open to all accounting and finance professionals, these Conferences provide a number of networking and educational opportunities.



AFWA members and friends from around the country are welcome to join the 2015 Spring Regional Conference, hosted by the Springfield, Missouri Chapter. Earn up to 14 CPE hours at this great event!


When: June 10-12, 2015

  • Wednesday, June 10, 3:00p-5:00p Chapter Exchange followed by Fun Night
  • Thursday, June 11, 7:30a-5:00p follow by dinner and the installation of the Foundation and National Boards of Directors
  • Friday, June 12, 7:30a-3:00p
Where: Double Tree by Hilton
2431 N Glenstone Ave, Springfield, MO 65803




The Bellevue Chapter is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year!  They invite you to help celebrate as Bellevue hosts the 2015 Spring Regional Conference.  Bellevue was chartered by the Seattle Chapter back in 1990 as the Puget Sound area was growing leaps and bound.    Bellevue is home to many HI-Tec companies and a very vibrant, fun city to explore with lots of outdoor activities (not to mention the exceptional shopping here).   The Pacific Northwest is beautiful during Spring where the Bellevue Botanical Garden will showcase the array of Rhododendrons in bloom that time of the year.   So mark your calendar and save the dates to join us.

Earn up to 14 hours total of Continuing Professional Education.


When: June 26 -27, 2015

  • Friday: 8 hours of CPE through 2 concurrent tracks in various accounting, audit, tax, and personal development sessions. Join us in the evening for a celebration social event!
  • Saturday: 6 hours of CPE through a technical and leadership sessions.

Where: Lake Washington Technical College

Website: Visit for more information and registration




- April Membership Meeting Recap: Scholarship Awards -
Climbing the AFWA Leadership Ladder
Age, Gender and Financial Literacy
3 Reasons Women Will Never Retire

How To Beat The Bias Against Women As Leaders

- AFWA Annual Conference -

Nicole Letellier

AFWA - Silicon Valley Chapter President

May is the month for blooming flowers and celebrating the renewal of nature. For AFWA Silicon Valley it is time for our Spring Gala! Time to renew our commitment to the Bay Area accounting and finance students. Our Spring Gala raises money for our scholarship awards for next year.

We have an extraordinary speaker this year. Dr. Fred Luskin, Stanford University Professor. He will
speak to us about finding a workplace balance for a happy, healthy, stress free life.

I don't know if you are like me, but workplace balance is not an easy task to accomplish. Anytime I think that I am getting ahead on my "to do list", new items are added either as top priority or at the bottom for when I have nothing else to do. Workplace stresses come in many different forms. Either it is dealing with employee morale, or serving internal as well as external customers, or trying to prioritize all the demands that are put on my shoulders. Throughout my days, it is very hard to find time to reflect on having a workplace balance and how to reduce stress at work as well as how to keep the workplace stress out of my personal life. I can use all the help that I can find.

If you are thinking about joining us for the first time, the Spring Gala is the best event to introduce
yourself to our group. It is our best networking opportunity since our Gala brings more people,
members and non-members alike, and our Gala's agenda allows more time for networking. I personally
enjoy our Gala because I get to meet new people and make new connections.

I am personally inviting each one of you to come and enjoy our Spring Gala, come for the networking,
come for the food, and come to learn about workplace balance. I can assure you that it will be an
evening you won't forget and that you will bring home something to enhance your life.

Happy mother's day to all of you who are mothers!

Truly yours,

Nicole Letellier






 AFWA Silicon Valley's April membership meeting was an eventful night with the installation of the 2015-2016 board members and issuance of scholarship awards, followed by a special guest speaker panel with three accounting and finance professionals offering their best advice to members and guests. The scholarship committee was ecstatic to hand out scholarships for our special Scholarship Awards Night. 


Congratulations to our 2015 scholarship recipients: 
Diane Ollila, Brendan Haggerty, Alyna Merali, and Shruti Raja!

Welcome to our new 2015-2016 board members! 
2015-2016 Board of Directors:

Board President:
Eileen Perry
Program Director:
Nicole Sheets

Newsletter/Web Chair:
Amrit Dhaliwal
President Elect:
Edronda Guiriba
Scholarship Director:
Julia Becklund
Hospitality Director: 
Allyson Girardi
Sue Stokke
CPE Chair:
Marvel Khan
Hospitality Co-Chair: 
Barbara Lietzan
Lois Vega

CPE Co-Chair:
Deborah Rosengarten
Immediate Past President:
Nicole Letellier




A big THANK YOU to our guest panelists, Antonio Santos of XL Construction, Carol Wagner of ASL and Ken Brenner of AvidBank and moderator Sandra Simon of Robert Half International. 




Visit our Facebook page to view more photos from our membership meeting:

Like us on Facebook

MAY NEWSAccountability

By Berranthia Brown, CMI, AFWA National President
May 14, 2015


As I look back over my years of serving as a leader in AFWA, there were many steps of the AFWA leadership ladder that led me to the role of National President.  Each step was instrumental in my journey to becoming President of our beloved organization. Initially, each of us joins AFWA as a member, and shows support by attending meetings and networking with others on a regular basis. We roll up our sleeves to help out at local events, even plan them when leadership is needed. We commit by serving on committees, and ultimately, decide we are ready to serve as a leader in the organization.


But once a leader locally, the journey doesn't stop.  One should continue onto the next level, as I did, by serving at the national level, either on a national committee or another volunteer capacity. This allowed me to meet other AFWA members in other areas of the country, share thoughts and ideas, all while benefiting the organization both at the local and national level.


While I thought my AFWA ladder journey was complete at this level, it was at the strong encouragement of other National board members, that I strive to work on a higher level in the organization. They observed certain leadership skills that our organization could utilize to its benefit. I was taken aback that someone noticed these leadership qualities that I didn't see in myself. It was these skills that led my boss to see that I was ready to move into a managerial role for the company I work for. I was asked to lead more projects and functions based on the experience I had in AFWA.

I submitted my application to serve on the National Board and was selected. The first two years were a period of showing support by participating and attending all board meetings and conferences. I  jumped right in and rolled up my sleeves, introducing new ideas to AFWA. Some of these ideas proved to be very beneficial to us in growing the organization and marketing AFWA, such as joining LinkedIn.  As I continued to serve over the next 6 years on the National Board, I learned even more about our organization, how it functions, The Foundation, and most importantly, the membership.  All of these experiences  prepared me to serve as National President of AFWA and understand its importance to our industry and membership.


Each member has an opportunity to climb the AFWA leadership ladder. Whether at the local or national level, these experiences should be beneficial to you, both personally and professionally.  This journey has been a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience for me.  I hope you will consider climbing the AFWA leadership ladder with me and others, as we look to build the future leadership of AFWA.


"If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more, and become more, you are a leader" John Quincy Adams


from Nerd Wallet
by Courtney Miller
May 11, 2015


NerdWallet partnered with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to ask over 2,000 Americans about their financial status, needs and knowledge. The survey revealed stark differences in respondents' financial confidence and security, along gender and also generational lines.


Intrigued, NerdWallet's data team took a deeper look at the March 2015 survey to assess how women and men differ across the generations when it comes to personal finances.


Here's where we focused our analysis

Confidence. To assess and compare financial confidence, we looked at how respondents in a group graded themselves on financial knowledge and their confidence in recent major financial decisions.

Security. To understand a group's financial security, we looked at the proportion of individuals with high credit card debt and those with savings accounts.


Age and gender. We focused on the differences between the youngest and oldest Americans surveyed. In these two groups, millennials ages 18 to 34, and the oldest, who were over 65,  we found the biggest differences in answers. We also compared women and men to highlight differences in knowledge between the sexes.


Key findings

Savings, confidence grows. Gaps in savings, confidence and debt between women and men decrease with age, at least among survey respondents. Almost 99% of women and men age 65 and older report being at least somewhat confident in their most recent major financial decision.


Millennials lag behind, and the gap is widest for women. While millennial women and men reported lower confidence in their financial decisions when compared with older generations, the survey found that the gap is widest for younger women - only 37% reported being very confident in their most recent major financial decision.


Less worry about finances in later years. Almost 70% of those surveyed who are 65 and older reported having no budget, although a majority do have an idea of how much they spend on housing, food and entertainment.


Older and wiser. The biggest differences in financial literacy between age groups is unsurprisingly between millennials - ages 18 to 34 - who were the youngest Americans surveyed, and the 65 and older age group. Those in the middle, ages 35 to 64, show gains in financial literacy and are more confident when compared with millennials, but they still fall short of the oldest people polled.


Financial trends among millennials

Millennial men may be more confident when it comes to their financial decisions and knowledge. Among male respondents ages 18 to 34, 47% were very confident in their last financial decision, while only 37% of women in the same age group felt very confident.  Millennial men also gave themselves top grades for personal finance knowledge at a higher rate than women in the same age group: 64% of men gave themselves an "A or B," while only 45% of women rated themselves as highly.


However, despite a reported lack of confidence, women may be more willing than men to use do-it-yourself tools for debt reduction. Of young women, 20% said they would turn to a tool to help pay down debt, while only 9% of men said they would do the same.


Millennial women also lag behind men when it comes to saving money. While 66% of men reported having a savings account, only 53% of young women said they have a savings account.


Financial trends among older Americans

People 65 and older in the survey were more confident, which isn't surprising given this group's life experience. In this poll, 70% of older Americans gave themselves an "A or B" to grade their personal finance knowledge, higher than the 54% of millennials who graded themselves similarly. This upward trend in confidence among older generations is seen across the genders, with even greater gains for women.


And perhaps older folks have good reason for this confidence, since most in our survey have little credit card debt: 64% reported carrying $0 in monthly credit card debt compared with 39% of young adults who made the same claim.


Poll details

The poll of 2,017 U.S. adults was conducted online from March 11 to 13. Harris Poll contacted people who have agreed to participate in surveys for the company.



from Kiplinger
by Sandra Block

There are lots of potholes on the road to  retirement , particularly if you're a woman. At Vanguard, one of the nation's largest financial firms, the average male customer has saved $121,000 in his retirement  account , while the average woman customer has saved just $78,000.

To catch up, women need to understand the hurdles they face and figure out how to overcome them. Here are three roadblocks that could prevent you from retiring in comfort:


One: Women live longer. The average 65-year-old man can expect to live until age 84.3. The average 65-year-old woman can expect to live until age 86.6. While living longer beats the alternative, it costs money.


If you're a woman, you'll need more for living expenses and health care, particularly in your later years. You can estimate your own life expectancy with the help of online calculators such as the one at If the calculator estimates you'll live to 95, you may want to work longer and hold off on claiming Social Security benefits. For each year you delay between full retirement age and age 70, you'll get an increase in benefits. Another strategy is to buy an annuity that will provide monthly payments until you die.

Two: While women are catching up, they earn less than men, which means their nest eggs are smaller. Lower earnings also reduce the size of their Social Security benefits when they  retire. To get past this obstacle, start saving as early as possible. That will give your savings more time to compound and grow. You should also check Web sites such as Glassdoor and PayScale to make sure you're being compensated fairly.


Finally, learn more about investing so you can get the most from your retirement portfolio. Women tend to be less confident than men when it comes to investing, but a little bit of knowledge goes a long way.

Mutual funds are the easiest and most cost-effective way to build a portfolio. If you're confused by the choices in your 401(k) plan or IRA, consider a target fund, which will automatically shift your savings into more conservative investments as you approach and enter retirement. Another option is to use low-cost index funds to build a balanced portfolio. If you'd rather invest in actively managed funds, check out the Kiplinger 25, our favorite no-load mutual funds.


from Forbes
by Sebastian Bailey
May 5, 2015

The revelation by the New York Times last month that in the S&P 1500 there are more CEOs named John than there are women neatly sums up what we all already know: the glass ceiling is as solid as ever. Diversity targets are one way to influence the demographics of executive boards, but quotas won't address the underlying bias against women as leaders .


In the 1970s Virginia Schein introduced the concept of 'think manager, think male'  to sum up society's tendency to associate managerial roles with traditionally 'male' traits such as assertiveness and confidence. More recent theories maintain that men are preferred for stereotypically masculine jobs which require these so-called 'agentic' characteristics, to do with independence, control and dominance, while women are preferred for jobs which require 'communal' traits such as empathy, kindness and emotional expressiveness.


These automatic associations may go some way to explain why women are so scarcely represented in leadership; not only do those doing the hiring assume males are better suited for the job, but women may hesitate to apply for senior roles which require stereotypically male characteristics. Recently several HRleaders have spoken to me about their attempts to remove gender-biased adjectives from job descriptions in order to attract a more balanced pool of candidates. They've found that advertising for a "dynamic, driven, results-oriented manager" yields a far more male-dominated pool than an advert for a "compassionate, thoughtful, approachable manager", which attracts more female applicants.  Removing such leading adjectives would go some way to putting women on a more equal footing, in that they're less likely to self-select themselves out of the running. But it's far more difficult to address the inbuilt bias of those making the hiring decisions.


A recent report published in the Journal of Applied Psychology analyzed the results of 111 studies  into gender bias in the workplace published between 1970 and 2012, with data from over 22,000 participants overall. It examined the preference for male job candidates on decisions to do with hiring, promotion, compensation, competence and job performance, in a range of occupations and industries. There was a pro-male bias across all jobs, especially those considered 'male dominated' (as determined by the ratio of males to females employed in that occupation at the time of the study), but there was no bias towards female candidates for stereotypically 'female' occupations.


Interestingly, male raters had a much stronger pro-male bias than did female raters, indicating that the lack of women leaders could be a self-perpetuating issue . Male leaders are likely to be making the hiring decisions, and men have a greater preference for hiring men - one instance of the similarity attraction bias, in which we unconsciously gravitate towards people similar to ourselves.


So what can be done? Increasing the amount of information about each job candidate had an unclear effect; while in some cases it reduced the amount of pro-male bias, in other situations it increased it, especially when the information was ambiguous - i.e. it didn't indicate whether or not that individual would succeed in the role. When extra information is ambiguous, it increases the cognitive load on the decision-maker, making it more likely that they'll revert to relying on gender stereotypes. But when extra information clearly indicated that a female applicant was highly competent and suited for the role, the amount of pro-male bias reduced to almost zero, suggesting that females especially should provide context-relevant information if they wish to be promoted into senior roles.


One thing that did make a difference was whether or not the rater was motivated to make accurate, careful decisions. When participants were held accountable for their decisions, in that they were expected to justify them, when they believed that their decisions would have real-life consequences, or when they were reminded about norms of fairness in the organization, they made less biased decisions.


This meta-analysis underscores the fact that gender bias is complex and insidious. Nobody making a hiring decision would admit to preferring male candidates, but 22,000 people's unconsciously biased choices say otherwise . Educating decision-makers about these natural, inbuilt biases, expecting them to explain and justify their judgments, ensuring that they have a vested interest in the outcome and advocating a social norm of fairness across the organization are all good starting points if we want to see more female names among all those Johns. 


President - Nicole Letellier

President - Elect - Eileen Perry

Secretary - Nicole Sheets 

Treasurer - Wendy Matthews

Program - Diane Ollila

Membership - Amrit Dhaliwal

Scholarship - Susan Wright

Newsletter/Web - Edronda Guiriba 

Hospitality - Jeanne Kourmako

CPE Compliance - Marvel Khan

Immediate Past President - Julia Becklund 

Pictured from left to right, front row: Jeanne Kourmako, Nicole Letellier, Wendy Matthews, Eileen Perry, Nicole Sheets. From left to right, back row: Marvel Khan, Diane Ollila, Julia Beckland. Not pictured: Amrit Dhaliwal, Edronda Guiriba, Susan Wright.


Click here for more info about the Roles and Responsibilities of the Board of Directors.



Chair: Diane Ollila


There is an excellent line-up of programs for the Silicon Valley Chapter this year, and most of them qualify for CPE!  Check out the line-up as we have engaged some dynamic and outstanding speakers.

Speaker: Dr. Fred Luskin
Presentation: Forgiveness
Annual Spring Gala Event

No Membership Meeting
Strategic Planning Meeting 6/20/2015

Chair: Amrit Dhaliwal


  • All Levels of Accounting & Finance
  • Bookkeepers
  • Corporate Accounting Finance
  • Public Accounting
  • Management & Educators
  • Recruiters

If you would like to join the Silicon Valley Chapter of AFWA, follow the link to our National website:


Please feel free to complete the application or forward a copy to someone you think would benefit from joining our Chapter.




  • Prestigious status of professional affiliation
  • National contacts for networking and professional information
  • Forum for CPE
  • Scholarships
  • Leadership opportunities in supportive arena
  • Subscription to Accountability e-newsletter 
  • National and regional conferences at a discounted rate
  • Access to Career Center
  • Access to AFWA's LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter groups and National online membership directory
  • Discounted membership to the Institute for Management Accountants (IMA)
  • Discounted products and services through affiliation agreements
    • CPA review courses, CCH tax & accounting books, Long Term Care Insurance and Bank of America credit card.

Hospitality Chair: Jeanne Kourmako
CPE Chair: Marvel Khan

Reservation and cancellation policy:  
Reservations or cancellations are requested by noon on the Friday preceding each meeting.  Email Jeanne to reserve or cancel. The goal is an accurate count for the hotel.  Unreserved members (not guests) incur a surcharge of $5.00.

Reserved members or guests who are no-shows will be billed if not cancelled by noon the preceding Friday. We do want you to come to the meetings and reservations are helpful but if you have to cancel let us know beforehand to avoid incurring the cost of the meal. WE ACCEPT CREDIT CARD PAYMENT AT THE DOOR.


Volunteers are always welcome at our monthly membership meetings. Lend a helping hand to make our monthly events and meetings even more interesting while building a great network and forming new relationships.


CPE credit is available for participating in any of our qualified programs.  See Marvel for more details in person at the meeting.

Chair: Edronda Guiriba


Send in your articles!


We encourage our membership to submit articles of interest for our monthly newsletter.  Please make your submission under the following criteria...

  • Prepared as a Microsoft Word document
  • Photos in JPEG format
  • captions are okay, no imbedded text, please

The newsletter is prepared and distributed on a monthly basis.  Visit our web site  If you have questions regarding articles to submit or about the newsletter, email the newsletter chair, Edronda, at

There are four sponsor levels of contribution established for the scholarship fund.
Sponsorship up to $150.00  
Sponsorship up to $300.00 
Sponsorship up to $500.00 
Sponsorship $750.00 or more

Share  the information! 
See Susan Wright for more  details.  


The Foundation is all about us, accounting and financial professionals, we strive every day to make a difference in the financial world and in our communities. The Foundation is charged with raising funds for national scholarships, and educational advancement of our peers and rising leaders. 


The Foundation offers each of us the opportunity to support the future direction of the profession where we have gained our own personal successes.


It is important to support those entering the profession and working alongside us. Those that follow in our footsteps have much to teach us and much to learn from us. They embody the next generation of accounting and financial professionals. Our goal for you and AFWA is to lead the way in their development.




The Foundation promotes and advances education, career development and leadership in finance and accounting. Our vision is to guide women along the path to achieve success in finance and accounting.





The Accounting & Financial Women's Alliance Annual Conference is the premier networking and education event for professionals and students of Accounting and Finance. The event attracts hundreds of professionals from across the country for four days of educational sessions - providing up to 24 hours of CPE credit - presented by leaders in the industry.


2015 AFWA National Conference

Mark your calendars for the 2015 AFWA National Conference to be held October 26-28, 2015 in Pittsburgh, PA. More details coming soon!



 Founded in 1938, AFWA/ASWA provides  women in accounting and finance the  leadership, education and networking  opportunities needed to achieve their career  goals. Celebrating 75 years as the only  organization that solely represents the interest  of women in the entire accounting and finance  community. The organization's mission is to  enable women in all accounting and related  fields to achieve their full personal,
professional and economic potential and to  contribute to the future development of their  profession.