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2020 Top 5 Under 35 Award Recipients

Congratulations to these five rising CPA stars in Virginia.
July 28, 2020

Billy Barber, CPA, PFS

CFO, Foundation Companies, LLC
Hometown: Fredericksburg

Billy Barber, CPA, PFS, went to the University of Richmond to play baseball and take advantage of its highly reputable business program where he studied finance. Soon after graduation, he found himself transitioning into a bookkeeping role. He liked the stability accounting provided — but also realized the key to growth is becoming a CPA. Billy went back to school a year after graduation to satisfy the additional hours needed to sit for the CPA Exam. Studying came with challenges (he had three young children), so he had to stay extremely disciplined. His hard work paid off and he passed each part the first time to become licensed in September 2015. Since then, he has worked to leverage his skills as a CPA to help the Greater Fredericksburg area. He prioritizes giving back to his community so others may have the same opportunity. He’s served on three different nonprofit boards, been involved with Habitat for Humanity, runs a baseball camp, raises funds for breast cancer and enjoys going back into classrooms to encourage students to become CPAs. As leader of the VSCPA Battlefield Chapter, he has heralded efforts to increase event attendance and chapter membership. He was also a part of the VSCPA’s 2017 Leadership Academy. In his free time, Billy enjoys spending time with his family and playing baseball.


Brian Benson, CPA

Controller at Lawrence Companies
Hometown: Roanoke

Brian Benson, CPA, is a Virginia Tech alumni and third generation accounting professional. Starting off college as a history major, he quickly realized he needed to pivot to a major that was more sustainable in the current market. After graduating with a degree in accounting and information systems, he landed a job with Ernst and Young’s (EY) audit practice. He spent a year at Capital One before returning to EY five years ago, passing the CPA Exam, becoming a CPA and being promoted to a manager in the audit practice. He enjoys the variety that being a CPA brings and giving back to the future of the profession, a mission he stewarded as the vice chair and now chair of the VSCPA Young Professionals Advisory Council. Being a CPA comes with prestige and possibility, something he hopes to share with students to change the perception of accounting. His accomplishments include receiving the EY Culture Coin for revitalizing his office’s recruiting efforts at Virginia Tech, being accepted into the company’s Business Development Academy and, perhaps most importantly, surviving a lightning strike!


John Reynolds, CPA

Lead Analyst, Block.one
Hometown: Magnolia, Del.

John Reynolds, CPA, is leading the way for the U.S. operations of Block.one LLC, a global blockchain software development company. As the U.S. lead financial planning & analysis (FP&A) analyst, he facilitated the company’s first budgeting process and implemented a new accounting and HR solution for the entire organization. At Radford University, John’s academic advisor convinced him to double major in finance and accounting. Getting his CPA was an integral step in his career journey and one he knew would “rubberstamp” his credibility. He started his professional involvement in the VSCPA Roanoke Chapter, enabling him to advocate for the growth and regeneration of the profession. He then became involved in the VSCPA’s Young Professional Advisory Council, CPA Ready workshops and university engagement. He is also a member of the 2020–2021 VSCPA Board of Directors. Outside the CPA world, serves on the board of the Trail Life, American Heritage Girls Troop and Radford University’s Student Managed Investment Portfolio Organization, where he helps students learn portfolio management by investing more than $2 million of university foundation funds. When not delving into blockchain and helping his community, John enjoys competing in strongman competitions, spending time with his wife and three children and trying a little freshwater fishing. 


Lauren Sipple, CPA, CGFM

Audit Manager, KPMG
Washington, D.C.
Hometown: Springfield

A second-generation CPA with an eye for travel, Lauren Sipple, CPA, CGFM, is an audit manager at KPMG, LLP, performing large, integrated federal audits and taking advantage of many of KPMG’s leadership opportunities. She has served as chair of KPMG Associates Council, participated in KPMG’s Audit 90 Women’s Leadership Program and sat on the firm’s Audit Innovation Council, among other accomplishments. She was the Greater Washington Society of CPAs’ 2019 Outstanding Young or Emerging Professional and recognized as a KPMG employee of the quarter. She’s also been nominated for their National Mentoring Award and the chairman’s award for High Performers. She is active in her community through her firm’s Families For Literacy program, the American Heart Association Heart Walk and Junior Achievement. She has a travel goal of visiting all 50 states and national parks and has already checked off 41 states and nearly half of the parks! 


John Waters, CPA

Senior Manager, Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, PC
Hometown: Suffolk

John Waters, CPA, graduated from Old Dominion University (ODU) with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s in accounting. At ODU, John took an accounting class in college that opened his eyes to all the possibilities being a CPA would bring. Passing the CPA Exam wasn’t easy, but securing a mentor helped him get through it. He has been at Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, PC, his entire career, moving up the ranks to a senior manager position over the last decade. John enjoys working with clients and leading his firm’s nonprofit niche. He prides himself on working up the ranks and being a sounding board for management and shareholders as the primary leader in nonprofit. He’s been a board member and now on the Executive Committee of the VSCPA Educational Foundation and has also served on the Scholarship Committee since 2017. He has a passion for helping others, regardless of their client status, to dissect an issue or plan for the future. When not helping others, he loves to cycle and travel. He had to miss a trip to Barcelona because of the pandemic, but spends time with his Corgi, Rocky Waters.