Mary Washington

Mary Washington

Mary Washington
Mary Washington

1906–2005

Mary Washington was a Black Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who was a leader in future generations of Black CPAs.

After high school, where Washington excelled in math, she worked at one of the few African American owned banks in th 1920s. Her supervisor and the bank’s vice president encouraged her to get a business degree. At Northwestern University’s School of Chicago Business in the late 1930s, Washington was the only woman in the business program and the only Black female student. Washington earned her business degree in 1941. She served her CPA apprenticeship with Wilson, her former boss at the bank.

In 1943 she became the nation’s 13th African American CPA, and the first female. She became a leader for future generations of accountants. The firm she began on the South Side of Chicago in 1939 remains one of the largest African American owned firms in the country.

None of the big CPA firms would hire Blacks, so Washington offering apprenticeships to Black CPAs led to Chicago having the largest number of Black CPAs of any city in the nation.