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Frank K. Ross

Businessman Frank Kenneth Ross was born on July 9, 1943, on the island of St. Kitts. He and his siblings moved to the United States after his father’s death to live with an uncle in Yonkers, New York. As a youth, Ross dreamed of becoming a lawyer. However, he opted for what he thought a more practical degree and commuted two hours a day from Yonkers to Long Island University in Brooklyn. There, he took courses in business and accounting while also working as a bookkeeper for a community organization in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

After graduating, Ross took a position at the accounting firm Peat Marwick Mitchell, now KPMG, at its office in New York while continuing at Long Island University to study for his M.B.A. There, he met Cecelia, the woman who would become his wife.

Although already a senior manager, in 1973 Ross decided to start his own practice, Ross, Stewart & Benjamin. Government programs of that era were attempting to encourage more minority-owned businesses and Ross felt that the time was right to start his own. Ross, Stewart & Benjamin garnered a significant client base. However, Ross was lured back to KPMG in 1976 and within a year promoted to partner, transferring to the Washington, D.C., office in 1979.

Today, Ross serves as the KPMG managing partner for the Mid-Atlantic and managing partner of the Washington, D.C., office. He is dedicated to maintaining KPMG’s market share. Ross also serves as an instructor at Howard University, teaching a class on auditing. He remains active on numerous community boards, including the National Association of Black Accountants (which he helped found); the Washington, D.C. Urban League; Corcoran Gallery of Art; the United Negro College Fund for Washington and Baltimore; and the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund.

Accession Number

A2001.073

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/25/2001

Last Name

Ross

Maker Category
Middle Name

K.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

P.S. 1

School 5

Roosevelt High School

Long Island University

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Archival Photo 2
Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Frank

Birth City, State, Country

St. Kitts

HM ID

ROS01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, College, Students, and young Professionals

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No - $5,000 - $10,000

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $3000-7000
Preferred Audience: Youth, College, Students, and young Professionals

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

All things are possible under the sun.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/9/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis

Favorite Food

Rice

Short Description

Accountant Frank K. Ross (1943 - ) was a partner at the accounting firm KPMG since 1976. Ross served as the KPMG managing partner for the Mid-Atlantic and managing partner of the Washington, D.C., office. He was dedicated to maintaining KPMG’s market share. Ross was also an instructor at Howard University, teaching a class on auditing. Ross helped found the National Association of Black Accountants.

Employment

KPMG

Ross, Stewart & Benjamin

Favorite Color

Red

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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12598">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Frank Ross interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12599">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Frank Ross's favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12600">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Frank Ross remembers his parents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12601">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Frank Ross describes changes in his family life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12602">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Frank Ross shares episodes from his school life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12603">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Frank Ross recalls life with his surrogate parents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12604">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Frank Ross remembers his youth in Yonkers, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12605">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Frank Ross discusses his and his brothers' college prospects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12606">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Frank Ross discusses his early influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12607">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Frank Ross describes his academic interests</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12608">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Frank Ross describes himself as having been a dreamer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12609">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Frank Ross describes his early social network</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12610">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Frank Ross recalls his early racial encounters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12611">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Frank Ross describes his career aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12612">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Frank Ross recounts his college experience</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12613">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Frank Ross recalls the effect of the Civil Rights Movement on student life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12614">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Frank Ross discusses racial discrimination in accounting firm recruitment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12615">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Frank Ross remembers his mentors at Peat Marwick</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12616">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Frank Ross recounts facing racism at Peat Marwick</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12617">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Frank Ross explains why he started his own firm</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12618">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Frank Ross recalls how he made partner at Peat Marwick</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12619">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Frank Ross reflects on what he learned running his own firm</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12620">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Frank Ross recalls running his own accounting firm</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12621">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Frank Ross reflects on his career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12622">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Frank Ross discusses his family life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12623">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Frank Ross shares his thoughts on success</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12624">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Frank Ross discusses his philanthropic activities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12625">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Frank Ross shares his plans for the future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12626">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Frank Ross expresses his hopes for young people</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12627">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Frank Ross reflects on his West Indian heritage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12628">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Frank Ross considers his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12629">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Frank Ross discusses founding the National Association of Black Accountants</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12630">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Frank Ross talks about getting support for the National Association of Black Accountants</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/12631">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Frank Ross reflects on the success of NABA</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

7$1

DATitle
Frank Ross reflects on what he learned running his own firm
Frank Ross discusses founding the National Association of Black Accountants
Transcript
Now with your practice [Ross, Stewart & Benjamin], who were your clients and what things did you learn about yourself? You know, in that process? 'Cause remember you were saying I was young still business wise.$$Mm-hm.$$Mm-hm.$$I think I--starting with the second question. I learned a lot about myself. I learned that well--I learned how to run a business. Okay. I learned how hard it is to meet payroll. To this day, I pride myself on the fact that we never missed a payroll because my wife [Cecelia], if she was sitting here she would say, yes, but we also--but we also didn't have money on some weeks. But I didn't miss the payroll. So I knew how hard it was to go out and to collect cash, to meet the payroll, etcetera So I learned a lot about how to run, manage, operate a business. I learned a lot about myself and how to deal with different people. You know, and how to treat people. Different--you know, people working for you when you have the ultimate responsibility for them. So I learned a lot about that. And I learned a lot about myself. I think that if I did not do it--do that, I probably would not had been as successful at--today as I am. 'Cause I think I had to go through that experience. And because of that experience, I got the confidence in myself. I got to know that I can do something. I can do it. I--you don't have to tell me, you know, convince me. I mean I know I can do it. All I have to do is go and do it. So I learned a lot about confidence. I also learned some strengths and weaknesses. I learned that I'm great in a large organization. I learned that I am not the type of person that's going to be able to just walk into a crowd and knock on the door. Walk into a crowd and say, "Hi, I'm Frank Ross. Here's my card. Give me a call. I'll call you tomorrow and why don't we do some business?" Some people have that type of personality. They could just do that and they're gonna walk out of an--of a reception with lots of cards, lots of meetings. I found out, that's not me. I'm the type that, if you give me an opening, I'm going to find a way. After I got that opening, I'm gonna find a way to work with you and to get your business. And we just work and talk it out until we figure out how, with the both of us can do something together. But I can't get that opening. Somebody else had to help me. And that's where KPMG and the larger organization really came in handy.$Your being the co-founder of National Association of Black Accountants--.$$[Simultaneously] National Association of Black Accountants.$$And how that came about?$$National Association of Black Accountants was formed in--officially it was incorporated in 1969. And it was formed probably in 19--the first meeting was probably formed--was probably occurred in the--in 1968. Actually a couple of us got together in my living room. I think I'd just gotten married [to Cecelia Ross]. My daughter--I was married over a year but my daughter [Michelle Ross] was just born. We had no furniture in our living room. And I'm inviting--think I told my wife, we'll have about sixteen people to--for Sunday afternoon to talk about doing this. And could she fix some, you know, hors d'oeuvres and stuff like that. And she said, "Where are they going to sit? We have no chairs or anything. We have a couch and nothing else." And--but we met. We filled up the floor. You know. And started talking about why we needed such an organization. And it was really formed for the reason that--you have the professionals--I was saying earlier where, you know, just opened up. Had just started to open up to blacks. In 1967, '68 [1968]--1966, '67 [1967], firms were still hiring only one black. In 1968, the New York City Human Rights Commission [New York City Commission of Human Rights] brought a lawsuit against the major firms in New York--that had headquarters in New York City, and sued them. And as a result, the firms' reaction to that was to go out and hire anyone, as long as you were black. You were--they gave you a job as an accountant. And they brought you on. And then when you go to a firm and you say, "Well. But this person doesn't have the background." A lot of us would go and say, you know, you're hiring from a school that's not really teaching--don't really have an accountant program. How do you expect that student to compete with a student coming out of an NYU [New York University, New York, New York] or a Pace [University, New York, New York], which have very strong accountant programs? Don't you think you need to do something to bring them up to speed? If you're going to recruit from those schools, don't you need to do something? But of course, that don't get you into remedial, you know, training. And that gets into the whole concept that you're not hiring. You know, that you're making exceptions in your hiring policies. And no one wants to go there. So what we said is, well maybe we could address some of these concerns by forming an organization that would be able to, you know, provide a group for networking. A group for--where people could get to know others, and ask questions. And we could sort of overcome, you know, the problems that they were facing or help them overcome it. So we started the organization. We came by--you know. We started in New York. Of course, we had to get it accepted by the profession, the AICPA [American Institute of Certified Public Accountants], the New York state society. We had to get those firms be--those organizations behind us. We had to get the major firms behind us. And I guess that's where the fact that I that I had, had a reputation within KPMG of being, you know, someone that is not going to be a rebel rouser. And someone that's going to be doing things positively, but I'm not going to be the type of person that's not going to do something, came in handy. And as a result, I was able to get the major firms to all support it. And we started. Now--but it was really started with the intent of filling a void that existed. And I guess that void still exists because the organization has grown. And, you know, every--and it's been relatively successful.