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HOUSTONAlbert Einstein referenced the term “table” in comparison to happiness, while Maya Angelou denoted it as an invitation into one’s life and King David acknowledged it as a, prepared place amidst his enemies. However three decades ago, Ira Wayne McConnell used his kitchen “table”, to engineer an empire. Today, this empire is embodied in the form of a remarkably diverse firm known as, McConnell & Jones LLP.

During the summer of 1987, McConnell & Company, Certified Public Accountants, was birthed out of a vision to yield a firm that would, “provide comprehensive services with a more personalized, hands-on approach.” From McConnell’s unique concept emerged an established firm with over 100 team members which provides: audit and assurance, risk advisory, tax and accounting, and business consulting services to publicly-traded and privately-owned companies, non-profit organizations, and governmental entities across the globe. Read on to learn more about the history of this fascinating entity, which is celebrating its’ 30-year milestone this month.

Snapshot of a 30-Year Success Story:

Ira Wayne McConnell successfully operated McConnell & Company, Certified Public Accountants as a sole proprietor until 1996. At this time, he united with Thomas Jones, Jr. who is reverenced as the, “tax expert”, with emphasis on federal and multi-state tax areas. Through this business partnership, McConnell & Jones LLP was established.

During the spring of 1999, McConnell & Jones merged with Empirical Management Services. Empirical Management Services was a management consulting firm engineered by Odysseus Lanier and Sharon Murphy. The goal of EMS was to, “provide management advisory services to meet the needs of clients by offering a plethora of services such as: conducting management and operational performance reviews, process improvement, cost containment, revenue enhancement studies, and research and focus groups.” As a result of this merger the firm was renamed, McConnell & Jones Lanier & Murphy LLP (MJLM); consequently solidifying MJLM as Texas’ largest African-American owned public accounting firm. In 2015, the firm was rebranded to reflect it former name, McConnell & Jones LLP.

Partners of McConnell & Jones LLP:

Ira Wayne McConnell

The original pioneer of McConnell & Jones, Ira Wayne McConnell serves as the Managing Partner of the accomplished firm. His role encompasses a wide range of responsibilities including: guiding the firms’ strategic direction, toting the overall responsibility of managing all aspects of administrative functioning, accounting, marketing and information technology. Furthermore, he has oversight responsibility of the audit division’s quality control system; making sure that it adheres to the peer review and inspection requirements of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Public Company Accounting and Oversight Board (PCAOB).

McConnell earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Grambling State University in 1972. He also matriculated at Louisiana Tech University, where he attained a Masters of Accounting degree, five years later. Throughout his professional career he has served in numerous public services sector capacities as: member, board member, on the board of directors and Chairman.

Thomas Jones, Jr.

Thomas Jones Jr. has made quite the reputation for his tireless efforts of working and engaging with corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners to produce realistic financial results that promote long-term business effectiveness. With more than 40 years of experience in tax compliance and financial management; his knowledgeable insight into servicing a broad spectrum of industries, has assisted the firm with his further advancement.

In 1977, Jones graduated Summa Cum Laude from Florida A&M University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. His professional affiliations include: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Houston Chapter of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, National Association for Black Accountants, American Leadership Forum Class XVII, Senior Fellow and Leadership Houston, Class VII, Graduate.

Odysseus Lanier

Odysseus Lanier is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 35 years of experience. Mr. Odysseus Lanier leads the firm’s Internal Audit and Risk Advisory practice which works with a myriad of publicly traded and privately held companies and financial institutions as well as federal, state, and local governments and nonprofit organizations. His background includes financial and operational auditing, facilities and use management, administrative and financial management, organizational reviews, strategic planning, project management and control, and management performance audits.

He is a graduate of Alabama A&M University with a B.S. in Accounting, Certified His professional associations include: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Institute of Internal Auditors.

Sharon E. Murphy

Sharon E. Murphy is a partner within consulting division of McConnell & Jones and a founding partner with McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy LLP (MJLM), a Houston, Texas-based consulting and accounting firm. She has more than 30 years of professional experience; Sharon heads the firm’s education practice and is responsible for a national clientele that has included 20 of the nation’s top 100 school districts in 13 states. She also oversees complex, large-scale engagements for federal agencies with nationwide scope.

Additional Partners at
McConnell & Jones LLP:

Tene’ Thomas is a licensed CPA who serves as the firm’s Partner of the Tax and Accounting practice. Thomas is adorned with over two decades of service in tax compliance and accounting services. Through her experience of operating in the entertainment, professional services, health care, real estate, and investment advisory industries; she is equipped to provide high quality and comprehensive services to clients.

Mr. Eric Ernest is the firm’s designated partner. He has over 24 years of experience in accounting and financial audits along with a strong history of: planning, managing and supervising scores of employee benefit plan audit engagements for a variety of plan sponsors. He actively participates in the activities of the AICPA’s Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center and is the speaker at the AICPA National Conference on Employee Benefit Plans, participates in national webinars and conducts firm-sponsored training for plan sponsors on Employee Benefit Plan topics.

Wendy Nguyen is responsible for the firm’s SEC and commercial assurance services group and has worked with large and small public and private companies representing various industries including: construction, health care, manufacturing, investment management, real estate and property management, trading, restaurants and food services, oil-field services, energy, retail, and power plants.

Mr. Marlon Williams heads the Governmental and nonprofit audit practice and is the partner in charge of the Dallas location. His biography boasts of his over 20 years of experience in auditing and financial compliance. In past, he has operated as lead partner on several audits of municipalities, public sector agencies, and quasi government entities. He is highly skilled in developing analytic for governmental entities and brings specialized government industry knowledge to each of his clients.

Other members of the Leadership Team include but are not limited to are: Michelle Brumfield, CPA (Director of Employee Benefit Plan Audit and Compliance), Gilbert Hopkins, CPA, (Director of Consulting Services), John Zimmerman, CPA (Director of Assurance and Advisory Services), Mark Schwartz, CPA (Director of Assurance and Advisory Services), Lori Jamail, MBA (Marketing Director), Mandy Szabo (Director, Human Resources), Traci Gholson (Chief Financial Officer) and Calvin Chang (Director of Information Technology).
Collectively, this esteemed umbrella of talents has “reach” which extends to industries inclusive with: education, energy and utilities, federal state and local government, nonprofit organizations and beyond. It is no wonder with such a diverse climate of adroitness as to how McConnell & Jones has become, “one of the largest public accounting firms in the southwest region of the United States”.

An Influential Light in the Community:

While suits, ties and heels is seemingly a typical part of McConnell & Jones professional atmosphere, partners and members have demonstrated by example that they are unharmed by dressing down to pair in community involvement. Accordingly, this exceptional firm which seeks to not only work in the community has maintained a commitment to work with the community. Hence, McConnell & Jones has developed a reputation for donating to non-profit organizations and volunteering in the community; by means of participating in charity walks, collecting donations for scientific research and aiding children in need during the holiday season. Team members passionately recognize the significance of giving back to the community. In their efforts’ they objectively seek to, “set an example for others – individuals and businesses alike – to follow”. A few of the organizations that the firm has supported include: American Heart Association, Angles of Light, Anti-Defamation League, Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans Inc., AVANCE, Boy Scouts of America, Coalition for the Homeless (D.C.), Dionysus Theater, Fort Bend Education Foundation, Harbor Foundation, Susan B. Komen Foundation, The Ensemble Theater, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and YWCA of Houston, just to list a few.

Today, McConnell & Jones LLP is equipped with four locations to service its clients. Details for each are as follows: Houston – 4828 Loop Central Dr., Ste.1000, 77081, (Phone: (713) 968-1600); Austin – 7600 Chevy Chase Dr., Ste. 326, 78752 (Phone: (512) 537-5500); Dallas – 15305 Dallas Pkwy., Ste. 300, 75001, (Phone: (972)715-2008) and Washington, D.C. –
5101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Ste. 210, Washington, D.C. 20016, (Phone: (202) 207-3570). Also, to learn more about the extensive array of services McConnell & Jones LLP offers visit, or call their toll-free service line at (866) 908-4650.

By: Rebecca Jones