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Tracey Ruiz of Novato's Martz Accountancy wins 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards

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Tracey Ruiz, MBA

Firm administrator

Martz Accountancy Corporation

75 Rowland Way, Suite 220, Novato 94949

415-898-6400

www.martztax.com

Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

Staff: 6

Professional Background: Firm Administrator, Martz Accountancy Corporation – 2013 to current

Freelance Writer/Editor Marin Patch online news

Local Programming Manager, North Bay for Comcast Cable

Freelance television technical director for live sports broadcasts

Education: Bachelor of Art’s in broadcast communications, San Francisco State University; bachelor of science in business management, San Francisco State University; MBA strategic leadership, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; paralegal certificate, Sonoma State University; and human resources certificate, Sonoma State University

Tell us our story and that of your organization: I am an officer of a tax firm in Novato with my husband Tom Martz, CPA.

Tom has thirty-five years of experience in taxation.

In 2013, he decided to break from a larger tax firm and start a boutique company with an emphasis on trust and estate taxation, Martz Accountancy Corporation.

I was transitioning out of my career in media and joined Tom’s firm during start up. My initial responsibilities were to find Class A office space in Novato that was conveniently located for a San Rafael client base. We selected a space near one of the most identifiable locations in Novato, the Vintage Oaks/Costco Mall.

I was involved in all aspects of lease negotiation, client transfer, employee selection, and all start up administration for the new firm. I worked with the contractor and vendors for build out and oversaw development of the company’s logo and branding materials.

As the company approaches its six-year anniversary, its success is evident by long-time client retention and new client acquisition.

As the firm administrator, my position has expanded to include integrating large blocks of new clients from retiring CPAs, while continuing to provide quality and personalized service to existing clients.

On the surface, the accounting and tax industry appears very different from my former career in media. But they have three major similarities that appeal to me. They are deadline-driven team environments where we are all focused on doing our best work for our clients.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year you would like to share?

In February 2019, the City of Novato received a letter from an attorney, alleging racially polarized voting in Novato. To avoid costly litigation, the city voted to shift to district elections and had 90 days to develop a district map for the entire city.

Citizens were allowed to provide input and submit map drafts. I spent over 80 hours within a three-week period to develop three alternative maps and a spreadsheet for the city council to compare and evaluate all of the maps submitted.

I shared my drafts on social media for citywide input and allowed the use of my drafts as a base for other citizen-drafted maps.

My map was selected in a 5-0 vote by the city council from a field of 22 maps, including five maps drafted by the consultant’s team. The November 2019 election will be the first use of the new district map.

I’m proud to have created a map that I believe will lead to more diversity and Latino participation on the city council. However, increased Latino leadership in local government requires a district approach to the city’s commissions and citizen’s boards, where experience and collaboration skills are developed.

Tracey Ruiz, MBA

Firm administrator

Martz Accountancy Corporation

75 Rowland Way, Suite 220, Novato 94949

415-898-6400

www.martztax.com

Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

Our firm supports my efforts to be actively involved in civic and non-profit efforts for the benefit of our community.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Our firm’s biggest challenge continues to be helping our clients understand the ramifications of the new tax law. The impacts to California residents are significant. There is not a single solution that fits all clients so there is an increased need for one-on-one consulting to draft solutions that are personalized and can help clients weather economic changes.

What are you most proud of regarding the achievements of the area Latino business community and what are the greatest challenges faced by that community?

In every industry I’ve worked, I’ve been part of the wave of increased ethnic and gender diversity. I’m proud to be a part of that wave in the financial services and accounting industry, which continues to need more Latino representation.

The challenges faced by the Latino business community are the same for all companies. Small companies are especially sensitive to economic downturns and Latino business owners need the networking resources for advice and long-range planning. Business networking and mentorship are support systems that can help small companies succeed.

Words that best describe you: Creative, Intuitive, Persistent

As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you face and how did you overcome them?

The biggest obstacles were working in fields where I was the only woman, the only Latina, and managing men who were older and had more years in the industry. The most successful way to overcome those issues is to ignore the initial resistance and to let people learn about you and find your common interests. I love surprising people when I don’t match up to their pre-conceived notions.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

Increased tax regulation and compliance along with rising tax software costs has a disproportionate impact on small tax firms. It may be difficult for the small business model to sustain itself unless it is highly specialized.

The increased use of online tax software by individuals may reduce a growing segment of the market.

However, as the client market matures, there is actually a greater need for tax consultation and planning for retirement, trusts and estates and business succession.

Who was your most important mentor?

When I was young, my father told me not to limit myself to careers that were typically held by women. My early career goal was to work in television production as a camera operator in sports. David Kerr was my first boss in cable television at a time when there was hardly any gender or ethnic diversity in sports production. He encouraged my interests in the technical and engineering side of production. That eventually gave me the skills to confidently lead production teams.

Tell us about your community involvement: In 2014, I lobbied to have a walking path placed on a half-mile-long stretch of a busy and dangerous frontage road in front of an elementary school. The school’s student population has a high concentration of Latino and ESL students. I tried working through traditional city and school district channels without much traction. A car crash at the school’s entrance compelled me to lead a campaign to bring about change. I created an online petition and quickly got over 400 neighbors to sign. Due to the community response, the city fast-tracked the project.

The walking path benefits Latino school families that may be apprehensive about attending city council meetings and asking for support, leaving their needs unheard and unmet.

What advice would you give to a young person today?

The key to my success has been advanced education because it gave me more confidence in the workplace. I would advise young people to choose a career that uses your strengths and allows you to work on your weaknesses over time.

Currently reading: I continue to collect hardback books that I hope to read when I get the time.

Most want to meet: I would like to meet Bay Area philanthropists and major fundraisers, Margaret Haas, Dede Wilsey and filmmaker and philanthropist, George Lucas. I want to know how to fundraise for community legacy projects like the shuttered Hamilton Theater in Novato that was built in 1932 for the military troops.

Stress relievers: I have been studying Flamenco dance for 17 years. As an adult student, I love the physical challenge and flamenco dance is inclusive for any age. Because the musical rhythms are complex, flamenco challenges the brain as well as the body.

Favorite hobbies: I’ve been working on my family genealogy. I was surprised to find that the family folklore appears to be true. My father’s family has been in San Antonio, Texas since the mid-1700s and likely came from the Canary Islands.

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