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CPA tallies success by helping Native tribes

Sean McCabe’s CPA firm, Anuskewicz & McCabe, P.C., recently earned the American Indian Business of the Year award. But the real triumph, says McCabe (Accounting, ’97), is crafting a business that specializes in serving Native American clients.

“The thing I love doing the most is being able to work a hundred percent with my Native American people,” he says.

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development granted Anuskewicz & McCabe, P.C. the Business of the Year award in March for its dedication to and success in offering accounting services to Native American tribes.

McCabe received the award on behalf of his firm, which he co-founded with Sean Anuskewicz. “To be rewarded like that, when you work most of your life to build a business, is pretty overwhelming,” McCabe says. “I was totally humbled.”

His professional journey began immediately after he graduated from FLC. He returned to Albuquerque, his hometown, to work for a regional CPA firm. After four years there, one of his tribal casino clients offered him a job as a controller.

Soon thereafter, the casino’s CFO left, and McCabe filled that vacancy too. “Man, I was only five years out of school,” he recalls.

Within a year, he became the CEO—and he still wasn’t even 30 years old. After another stint as CEO of a different casino, McCabe left to start his own firm.

“Being one of the very few Native American CPAs, I just decided it was time to develop a model where a Native American professional business owner decides to focus on Native American business services,” he says. “And that’s what we did. We’ve been pretty successful at it so far.”

A decade into the venture, McCabe is proud to say that the firm’s entire client base consists of Native American entities. In addition, the firm’s professional staff are all Native American, as well.

The firm’s clients run the gamut of sizes and resources, and McCabe loves working with each one.

“I get to talk to, say, a multi-million dollar casino or a small-grant school in the middle of the reservation,” he says. “I’m not sure it’s the numbers aspect I love about it, and I’m not sure it’s the financial aspect. It’s more the coaching aspect. I get to show them, in my consulting business, here’s how things should be done. Here’s how things work. Here’s the best road for financing options.”

“I know a lot of help is needed with these tribes,” he adds, “and I’m fully vested in what’s going on with them because I’m from those communities. Helping them is what I want to accomplish. And I’m lucky enough to be able to say I can do that.”

McCabe attributes a great deal of these opportunities to the inclusive culture he experienced at Fort Lewis College. “It’s one of the very few schools that holds on to a traditional Native American value,” he says. “Not only through the tuition waiver, but also with the way it handles Native American students. It integrates the whole culture with the culture that’s there already in Durango.”

“In the end,” he says, “if you work hard and you take those values that you’re taught there at the Fort and bring that with you, you’re going to be pretty successful with what you do.”

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Tags: Accounting Native American careers


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