The Nebraska Society of CPAs traces its beginnings to March 10, 1908, at the Millard Hotel in Omaha, where several public accountants initially gathered together and over the next few years organized under the name Nebraska State Association of Public Accountants. Although the group adopted a constitution and bylaws, and formed committees, it did not incorporate. The first elected chairman of the association was J.M. Gilchrist, who held the first CPA certificate in Nebraska and whose descendants are still active in the Society. Along with Gilchrist, other founders of the association were J.W. Tulleys (Cert. No. 3), R.F. Svoboda (Cert. No. 4), R.B. Merriam (Cert. No. 5), E.A. Dworak (Cert. No. 6), Emil Ganz (Cert. No. 8), E.J. Robinson (Cert. No. 9), A.L. Searle (Cert. No. 11), and George W. Holbrook (Cert. No. 14).
Twenty years later, on July 23, 1928, the Nebraska Society of Certified Public Accountants was officially established when six public accountants met and approved the Society’s Articles of Incorporation. Signing as incorporators of the Society were Henry C. Moeller (Cert. No. 18) of Lincoln, who would eventually become the Society’s first president, G. Lawrence Greenfield (Cert. No. 28) of Omaha, Raymond H. Walker (Cert. No. 35) of Lincoln, Calvin B. Remmington (Cert. No. 36) of Lincoln, Wayne McPherren (Cert. No. 47) of Omaha, and Harry E. Judd (Cert. No. 48) of Lincoln.
The Society grew slowly at first. In 1938, Society records reflect only 23 members; that number grew to 52 in 1948, stretching to 207 in 1958. In 1968, the membership grew to 320. By 1970, the Society had expanded to 510 members. Then, it took a major jump, reaching 1,390 by 1980. Part of the reason for the growth in the 1970s was the Nebraska Legislature’s passage of mandatory continuing education for licensed practitioners in 1971. Nebraska was the first state in the Union to pass such legislation, which led the Society to sponsor increasing numbers of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses for its members.
The late 1950s were a turning point for the Society. In 1957, the Nebraska Legislature passed the Nebraska Public Accountancy Act and, in 1958, Arnold Magnuson was hired as a part-time staff person. Over the next 32 years, Magnuson would guide the growth and expansion of the Society and eventually become its full-time executive vice president. Magnuson was the only employee until October 1972; at that time, the Society opened its first executive office located in the Stuart Building in Lincoln, employing Magnuson as the executive director and one secretary. Today, the Society has four employees.
In 1985, the Society offices moved to the Roman L. Hruska Law Center west of the State Capitol. When Magnuson fully retired in 1992, the membership had grown to approximately 2,400. In 1990, Dan Vodvarka was named the Society’s second executive vice president. In 1995, his title was changed to president, and the highest elected Society office was changed to chairman of the board. Vodvarka retired in October 2018 after 28 years of service to the Society. In July 2018, Joni Sundquist began serving as president and executive director of the Society. In January 2020, the Society offices moved to the Corporate Centre Office Park at 7435 O Street in Lincoln.