Partner-in-Charge of EisnerAmper LLP’s San Francisco office
Volunteer of the Year Award
Given to a person who demonstrates exceptional service to the university through volunteer activities.
John Williamson (MS 90), the Partner-in-Charge of EisnerAmper LLP’s San Francisco office, receives fairly predictable gratification for the pro-bono program he originated with Dean Mary Canning and the Braden School of Taxation.
It happens at the height of tax season. The phone rings and a former student, who might otherwise be overwhelmed by clients, forms, receipts and The Code, says thanks.
“They’ll call us and say, ‘It was great that I had that experience,’” Williamson said. “That feedback makes it so satisfying. The students love the practical experience and the way it helps them get through their first tax season with future employers.”
Williamson, who received his BS in accounting from Illinois College, went to work for Big 8 CPA firm KPMG as an auditor but fell in love with San Francisco on a vacation. In 1982, he moved west and soon went to work for the CPA firm of Harb, Levy & Weiland LLP. Once there, Howard Weiland suggested he enroll in GGU’s master of taxation program.
“The one rule was: No classes during tax season,” said Williamson, thus explaining his slow and steady pace to his degree.
Williamson found the program so instrumental in his success, and the faculty so professionally grounded, that he worked with Canning to institute a free student tax workshop that consumes five to six hours on three consecutive Fridays.
“The idea was to show GGU’s master’s in tax students how to prepare individual, partnership and corporate tax returns,” he said. “The first day, we give a half-hour lecture and a quick tutorial on the tax software, and then each student receives a packet of the information we typically get from a client. They essentially learn the whole thing from A to Z.”
Williamson doesn’t have to go looking for things to occupy his time. He serves on the EisnerAmper Executive Committee, the Executive Committee of Hedge Funds Care (established for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect) and the board and Audit Committee of Freight & Salvage Coffee House, a music venue in Berkeley. (Yes, he does catch the occasional show at Freight & Salvage.)
“I love doing what I’m doing; I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Williamson said. “We all like to give back to the community, and this tax program especially gives us a chance to give back specifically to GGU.”