Kirtley named IFAC president

Olivia Kirtley, CPA, CGMA, a member of the American Institute of CPAs’ (AICPA’s) governing council and former chair of the AICPA board of directors, has been elected to a two-year term as president of the board of the International Federation of Accountants, a global organisation dedicated to strengthening the accounting profession.

IFAC announced the election of Kirtley, a business consultant on strategic and corporate governance issues, on Friday. She becomes the first female president of IFAC, as well as the first from business and industry rather than public accounting. She succeeds Warren Allen, who served two years each as IFAC’s president and deputy president.

“This is an exciting time for IFAC, with challenges and opportunities for the profession at every level,” Kirtley said in a statement. “As president, I look forward to engaging with member bodies and our many stakeholders as we seek ways to advance the impact and value of our profession, and in serving the public interest.”

Kirtley became a member of the IFAC board in 2007, following a stint on the independent IFAC Task Force on Rebuilding Public Confidence in Financial Reporting from 2002 to 2003. In 2012, she was named deputy president of the IFAC board. Rachel Grimes, former president of the board of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, replaces Kirtley as IFAC’s deputy president.

Kirtley serves on boards of directors of three companies: U.S. Bancorp, Papa John’s International, and ResCare. Previously, she was vice president of finance and CFO of Vermont American Corp. She was named by the National Association of Corporate Directors as one of the top corporate directors and governance professionals in the US.

“Olivia has brought to IFAC the same qualities that made her tenure as AICPA chair so successful,” Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the AICPA, said in a statement. “Her experience in corporate finance and management accounting, extensive public board leadership, and earlier work in public practice combine for proven leadership in today’s complex global business environment. I applaud her election.”

In 1998, Kirtley became the first woman elected to chair the AICPA board of directors. From 2000 to 2003, she headed the AICPA Board of Examiners, which oversees the content and structure of the Uniform CPA Examination. During her tenure, the Board of Examiners converted the CPA exam from a pencil-and-paper format to a digital format. In 2003, the AICPA awarded her the Gold Medal for exemplary leadership and service to the accountancy profession.

IFAC has more than 175 members and associates in 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing about 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce. IFAC offers accountants guidance on ethics, auditing and assurance, education, and public-sector accounting.

Sabine Vollmer ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.