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Darlene Bayardo, a director in the national assurance department at BDO, has more than 20 years of experience with national public accounting firms and private accounting with extensive knowledge in the audits of employee benefit plans (EBPs). As a lead technical resource in BDO’s national EPB audit practice, her responsibilities include ERISA audit quality and risk management. The majority of her time is dedicated to technical consultations, development of audit and accounting guidance, resources and training programs for employee benefit plan auditors, industry development, communications, and quality reviews for BDO’s national EBP audit practice. She instructs national training courses and regularly contributes to BDO’s periodic newsletter, EBP Commentator.
Bayardo’s EBP experience has included all types of defined contribution, defined benefit and health and welfare plans; numerous plans with one sponsor and various service providers; 11-K filings; and master trusts. She advises and assists clients in the area of benefit plan accounting and compliance and has extensive experience in the preparation of financial statements and footnotes for employee benefit plans. Bayardo is a member of CalCPA and the AICPA, serves on the AICPA Employee Benefit Plans Expert Panel, and was an active member on the AICPA Technical Standards Subcommittee of the Professional Ethics Executive Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Loyola Marymount University.
Jill Kitchin is a senior audit manager in the San Francisco office of Hood & Strong LLP. She manages and oversees financial statement audits and other projects, ensuring that outstanding client service is provided. With more than 13 years of public accounting experience, Kitchin has the technical knowledge and experience to assist clients improve their internal control policies and procedures, as well as assist with accounting-related projects and audits. She is also responsible for leading the internal education for the firm’s employee benefit plan group. Her personal approach along with her commitment to quality has made her successful in providing excellent accounting services.
Kitchin’s areas of expertise include audits of employee benefit plans; audits of not-for profits, foundations, museums, independent schools, and colleges and universities; audits of privately-held businesses; and internal control and operations reviews. In addition to serving as chair of Hood & Strong LLP’s Volunteer Committee, she is a member of the AICPA and CalCPA. Kitchin holds her master of business administration from Saint Mary’s College of California, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific. She is licensed by the California Board of Accountancy as a CPA.
Marilee Lau provides consulting services and teaches various educational programs on accounting and auditing for employee benefit plans. She assists audit firms specializing in employee benefit plans by providing technical support and performing internal reviews of their EBP audit practices. Before retiring in 2009, Lau was the national partner in charge of KPMG’s employee benefit plan audit practice.
Lau is a founding member and a former chair of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center’s Executive Committee, which was established in 2004. She was the AICPA’s 2011-2013 representative to the DOL’s ERISA Advisory Council. Lau has served on the AICPA’s Employee Benefits Plans Experts Panel and was the chair of the EBP Audit Guide Overhaul Task Force. She assisted the AICPA in writing the ESOP chapter for the EBP Guide as well as the pension chapter for the State and Local Government Guide. She was also a member of AICPA Ethics Subcommittee for employee benefit plans from 2012-2016. Lau is heading up the task force to write the multiemployer chapter for the EBP Guide, and she is a member of the AICPA Peer Review Subcommittee for EBP and performs oversight reviews of the Peer Reviews for EBP audits. She has also served on the Accountants Committee for the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
Lau is a member of the AICPA, CalCPA and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, and a frequent speaker for numerous professional conferences and programs. She is a graduate of Santa Clara University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master of business administration in accounting.
Bertha Minnihan has been in public accounting since 1995 and serves as the national practice leader for Moss Adams’ employee benefit plan audit group. She has extensive experience directing all phases of audits for a variety of benefit plans including 401(k), 403(b), pension, employee stock ownership, and health and welfare benefit plans. She has also worked with a number of 11-k clients. Her ERISA expertise includes the specialized knowledge required for audits, Form 5500s and related filings. Minnihan provides various consulting services related to the ERISA industry nationwide and dedicates her time to staying on top of Department of Labor requirements while they are still in the proposal and discussion stage.
Minnihan has been named by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of its Women of Influence in Silicon Valley and by the San Francisco Business Times as one of its Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business. She serves on the AICPA’s Employee Benefit Plans Expert Panel, and has previously served on the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center’s Executive Committee, chaired the annual national AICPA Benefit Plan Conference for several years, and served on the AICPA’s Technical Standards Subcommittee, which assists with the Department of Labor’s review of ERISA audits and auditors. Minnihan also chairs the annual California State Society Annual Employee Benefits Plan Conference and has won CalCPA’s volunteer of the year award. She is frequently called upon to speak at local and national organization events dedicated to the benefit plan audit specialty and her acumen is widely recognized by many of the third-party administrators, trustees and investment custodians utilized by companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.
Tom Parry is a shareholder of Benson & Neff, a local firm located in San Francisco. He is responsible for the system of quality control applicable to all accounting and audit services provided by the firm, and the engagement partner for audits of employee benefit plans performed by the firm. Parry specializes in reviewing quality control policies and procedures for other AICPA member firms and acts as the quality control reviewer for audit and accounting services provided by other firms to both public and privately-held clients.
Parry is the chair of the AICPA Peer Review Board; and a member of the Board’s Standards Task Force and Peer Review Practice Monitoring Task Force for Employee Benefit Plans, as well as the California Peer Review Committee. He also serves on the Quality Control Task Force of the Auditing Standards Board.
Meredith J. Sesser is of counsel to Brucker & Morra, A Professional Corporation, and is among the nation’s leading authorities on employee benefits law, ERISA and benefits taxation. Sesser’s 17 years of pension and ERISA experience enables Brucker & Morra to assist businesses and non-profit organizations in the preparation, implementation, operation and termination of retirement plans such as defined benefit plans, cash balance pension plans, 401 (k) and profit-sharing plans, and 403(b) plans (plans for public education organizations, governments, religious institutions and non-profit organizations). Sesser represents employers in Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) controversies, including investigations, audits, and voluntary compliance to prevent or correct plan disqualification and fiduciary breaches (EPCRS, VCP, DFVCP and VFCP). She counsels clients on inadvertent filing errors, resolves inaccuracies, and works vigorously to successfully abate IRS penalties charged to employers with late or negligent filings of Form 5500 (Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan). In addition, she advises employers on employee benefit claims.
Sesser provides advice on business structuring and employment relationships, including how to determine and analyze controlled and affiliated groups as well as leased and staff employees, to ensure that a business owner’s retirement benefits are not subject to scrutiny by the IRS. She is the “go-to” lawyer for many third-party administrators. Sesser is the past president of the board of directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIP A), and is a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPP A).