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Trendsetters: Accountants

Bill Miller Jr.
Moore Stephens Lovelace
President, CPA

Public service: Board member of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission; former chairman and eight-year board member of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “I think you have to give something back. Really all it costs you is some sleep.”

Interests: “I had a golf game prior to becoming president of the firm and having a 2-year-old son.”

Navy connection: The son of a Navy lifer, Miller was born in Columbia, S.C., and grew up in Philadelphia; Puerto Rico; Norfolk, Va.; and Orlando, where his father helped open the Naval Training Center in 1968 and for which, when the Navy decided to close it, the younger Miller served on the base reuse commission. (It’s now Baldwin Park.)
[Photo: Brook Pifer]

As a high school student in Orlando, Bill Miller Jr. had his future figured out — he’d attend Georgia Tech for electrical engineering and Navy ROTC, become a Navy pilot and then go into the space program. He told his father, a career Navy man and retiree. Father’s advice: “Please don’t go in the Navy.”


» Accounting Leaders

CovingtonBarbara Covington, 50, a manager in Fort Walton for Alabama-based accounting firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram, is the national president of the American Society of Women Accountants.



HartkeCPA Karyn Hartke, 45, of Yulee is president of a 62-member new northeast Florida chapter of the American Society of Women Accountants. “It just really took off,” she says. “We really had a need for women to network in the Jacksonville area.” Hartke says groups in Orlando and Tallahassee are working to form new chapters, and there’s an effort in Tampa to reactivate the chapter there.

That was enough. While casting about for a new plan, he met then-Florida A&M University accounting department head Sybil Mobley, the first African-American CPA-Ph.D. in the nation and later a board member of Hershey Co., Anheuser-Busch and Sears. She steered Miller to public accounting. “I’m a disciple of Sybil Mobley,” he says.

A similarly crystalline moment led him to leave a Big Eight firm as a senior manager in Miami. Making partner, he was told, meant putting the firm before all. Miller considered: “Maybe I need to be in a place where my God, my family and my friends come first.” He joined what’s now called Moore Stephens Lovelace in 1985.

He headed its accounting and auditing practice for 15 years. In 2003, he became president. The 100-employee, 12-owner firm opened an office in Macon, Ga., in 2006 to add to four Florida offices as it pursues a Southeast expansion. “Our goal is to be the premier public accounting firm in the Southeast United States.”

At 56, Miller has years left but says his job is to groom the next generation of owners and a successor. Attorneys are like wine, he says: The older they get, the better. CPAs are like beer. “It’s got a born-on date, and the further you run from that born-on date, the worse it gets,” Miller says.