Every Accountant Adds Up

Meet Howard B. Levy, a highly accomplished certified public accountant with a national reputation and a long history of involvement with and support for The ALS Association. He learned of the Association during the mid-1980s during the last year of the life of his dear father, Jack Levy, who had ALS. Howard offered to serve as a member of the Association’s Board of Trustees and because of his skill as an accountant, was soon invited to fill a vacancy as its national treasurer. He served in that role for almost seven years, during which time the Association was a small national charity whose annual contributions barely achieved $5 million. Nevertheless, Howard was responsible for making substantial improvements in the Association’s internal and public financial reporting processes and internal controls, including its budgeting, the latter of which led to a significant enhancement in its financial condition. Howard later served for a time on the Board of Trustees of the Nevada Chapter. Howard continues to consider his service as national treasurer the most important thing he has ever done. It was this service that inspired him to write The Volunteer Treasurer's Handbook: Financial Management Building Blocks for Not-for-Profit Organizations (available free at http://pbtk.com/non_profit.asp#), which in its original edition was intended only for use by Chapter treasurers.

Although lacking in formal education, Howard’s father, Jack, was a smart and highly principled man who worked hard, loved his family and several lifelong friends, and always fought for what he believed. In addition to his family and his astonishing knowledge and skill as an automobile mechanic, Jack Levy was proud of his extraordinary physical strength. As a little boy growing up in the 1940s, Howard had three heroes: Superman (of course), Tarzan, and his number one hero, his dad.

Sadly, over the last five years of his life, ALS robbed Jack Levy not only of the ability to handle tools, but of much of one of his greatest sources of personal pride, his extraordinary strength. Notwithstanding, he never lost his love of life and his fighting spirit. Fortunately, he also never lost the ability to breathe and speak (as many ALS victims do), and he retained strength in his upper arms such that Howard saw him arm wrestling with one of his doctors in his last days. But finally, in 1986, he could fight no more. He was just shy of his 68th birthday, and Howard said he felt as if he must have been the youngest man ever to lose a father.

When Jack Levy was battling ALS, there was little ongoing research, no clinical trials, no government support, and precious little public awareness or aid available for patients and caregivers. Howard’s now late mother, Phyllis, discovered the ALS Association too late to get any help from anyone for her husband’s care, so she shouldered virtually the entire burden herself.

Observing daily reports of the incredible and revolutionary Ice Bucket Challenge in the summer of 2014, Howard (always the accountant) became concerned with how responsibly the Association would manage and remain accountable for the unprecedented inflow of cash that was received over such a short time and that transformed the Association almost overnight into a major charity. He continued to read the Association’s online progress reports and in 2017 authored an article about it for The CPA Journal, a highly regarded and widely read professional journal published by the New York State Society of CPAs that Howard writes for frequently. Howard’s article may be accessed at http://www.cpajournal.com/2017/08/16/redeeming-value-social-media-ice-bucket-challenge-invigorated-als-association/

We thank Howard for his tremendous service to The ALS Association and the community over the years and appreciate the impact he had. We also celebrate the life of his father, who so clearly inspired Howard and all those around him.

Not only every accountant – every father adds up.

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