Partner Biographies

Richard K. Babush, CPA, JD, Howard F. Neiman, CPA,Chris Clayton, CPA, JD, Barry Klein, CPA,
Jeffrey G. Olson, CPA, MTX
, Stephen M. Rogut, CPA, James W. Lahm, CPA/ABV, Stafford W. Huff, CPA,
Stephen J. Nadeau, CPA, MTX
, L. Gill Fenerty, CPA, Melissa “Missy” Herbert, CPA


Richard K. Babush, CPA, JD
Tax Partner

Babush, Neiman, Kornman & Johnson’s reputation for excellent service is due, in part, to the efforts of Dick Babush. As head of the firm’s tax department, Dick brings leadership, knowledge, and effective strategy to the complex financial matters of high net worth individuals and closely held businesses. Dick’s legal education and 50+ years of accounting experience and knowledge allow him to provide exceptional services when dealing with complex tax issues. He focuses primarily on estates and trusts, business acquisitions and dispositions, Internal Revenue Service and State Tax Authority representation, and litigation support.

Dick, a founding partner, has a strong background working with clients of various industries. More recently, his client service includes professional service firms in law, healthcare, engineering and architecture. His expertise extends far beyond professional services into manufacturing, wholesale distribution, professional sports, broadcasting and cable systems.

Dick is past Secretary and Trustee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and is currently a member of the Endowment Board, serving on its Investment Committee. He also serves on the Advisory Committees of Endowment for Kennesaw State University and Georgia State University. Dick has served as Treasurer, Vice President and on the Board of Governors of the Standard Club.

Dick was honored with the Georgia Planned Giving Council’s 2010 Greater Good Award, which recognizes exemplary service among Georgia’s charitable advisors.

Professionally, Dick was appointed by Governor Joe Frank Harris to the Georgia Vocational Education Task Force, the Georgia State Board of Personnel and the Georgia State Employee Benefit Plan Council, where he served as a member and Chairman for 10 years. He was also elected a Georgia delegate to the President’s White House Conference on Small Business in 1980. Throughout his career, Dick has served his profession locally as a past president and trustee of the Atlanta Tax Forum and member of the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants (GSCPA). In addition, he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the American Bar Association Section on Taxation.

Dick earned his JD, with highest honors, at Emory University in 1963. He obtained his bachelors degree in 1960 at Youngstown University, magna cum laude. Dick is an avid golfer and has participated in many tournaments.



rbabush@bnkj.com

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  Howard F. Neiman, CPA
Partner

Howard’s tax and business consulting services for family and closely held business clients are recognized nationally. Howard has been named many times in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s list of Who’s Who in Finance and he was nominated and awarded The Family Firm Institute’s “Fellow Status in Family Business Advising.”
For more than 40 years, Howard has helped clients with

  • income tax;
  • business succession planning;
  • estate planning;
  • family and non-family compensation issues;
  • business/personal financial planning; and
  • profit improvement planning.

Most of Howard’s clients have been his clients for many years, and thus Howard has built a strong niche in these clients’ industries. Those industries include:

  • distribution;
  • health care;
  • insurance;
  • law;
  • manufacturing;
  • contracting; and
  • retail business.

Howard has been active with the Kennesaw State University Family Business Forum since its inception in 1987.  Howard is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants (GSPCA).  He has served on many national Management Services Consulting committees with the AICPA and is a past chairman of the GSCPA’s Management Services Committee.  He has had articles published with the Management Consulting Division of the AICPA, and also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Kennesaw State University School of Accounting.

As a 1964 graduate of the University of Georgia, Howard earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a major in accounting.

hneiman@bnkj.com

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  Chris Clayton, CPA, JD
Managing Partner

Chris has been an attorney and tax partner for nearly 25 years and is the firm’s specialist in state and local income tax and sales and use tax matters. He has been BNKJ’s managing partner for 11 years, leading the firm into its fifth decade of serving clients. This dual role as an accountant and firm managing partner has helped him provide clients with accounting and consulting services as well as insight into business planning, operation management and oversight issues.

Chris works with many closely held businesses on complex, corporate tax planning matters. Chris has experience creating stock option plans, providing executive coaching and performing human resource management consulting which has been tremendously valuable to several of his clients needing such expertise. He works with high-net worth individuals as well, including entertainers, athletes, corporate executives, business owners and investors. Many large, publicly held corporations also use Chris and his team to supplement their personnel for special long-term projects.

Chris works with clients in many industries, including professional services (law, medicine, architecture, engineering, etc.), distribution, construction, technology and software, sports and entertainment, onsite human resource providers, real estate management, private schools and multi-state retail distribution.

Prior to joining BNKJ, Chris worked for several years at Touche Ross & Company (now Deloitte & Touche). There he provided complex tax services and general consulting services, and served on the national tax committee for state and local taxation. Chris holds both a BBA in Finance (1980) and Juris Doctor in Law (1983) from the University of Georgia and serves as a guest lecturer for many professional organizations such as the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants (GSCPA).

Outside of the office, Chris volunteers his time and accounting expertise to help some of his favorite charities. He has served on the Atlanta Children’s Shelter Finance Committee and the Woodruff Arts Center Fundraising Committee. He is also an active supporter of Home Stretch and Camp Twin Lakes, and was one of the American Diabetes Association’s top 20 fundraisers for Tour de Cure.

Chris and his wife Maureen live in Roswell. They have three boys—two in college and one in high school. Chris loves to participate in outdoor activities such as tennis, fishing, golf and skiing.

cclayton@bnkj.com

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Chris Clayton catches a striper—summer of 2010
  Barry Klein, CPA
Partner in Charge of ERISA Audits

With 20+ years experience in retirement plan audits, Barry leads BNKJ’s retirement plan audit team and has successfully created a special preplanning process for employee benefit plan audits. He has developed this niche practice area for the firm with a talented team of trained professionals, and extended BNKJ’s services to internal controls consulting. Specialized services include Department of Labor and IRS representation, internal control analysis and plan cost examination. His clients include both public and private companies, of various industries. He audits benefit plans ranging in size from 100 to 15,000 participants, with assets in excess of a billion dollars.

Because Barry has extensive auditing experience, he is able to effectively and efficiently perform plan audits in a way that reduces risks associated with fiduciary responsibilities. He clearly highlights areas of exposure identified in the performance of the audits and works with clients to ensure that plans meet the specific needs of a company.

Barry stays on top of new developments and issues that could affect his clients. He is an active leader in the business community, and continues to serve on the Board of the Atlanta Chapter of American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA), VP of Programs and board member of Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB), and board member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Barry stays on top of developments and issues relating to employee benefit plans, and is an active leader in the business community. He continues to serve as Treasurer and Board Member of ASPPA and is an active member of WEB. He is also a participating member of The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Prior to joining BNKJ in 1988, Barry gained valuable experience as a Chartered Accountant in South Africa, where he was partner in a prominent firm. He later moved to the United States and joined BNKJ’s audit group as a supervisor. Barry was named a BNKJ partner in 1995. He earned a Masters in Accounting from the University of South Africa.

Barry and his family are sports enthusiasts, and enjoy many action-packed activities together. Barry especially likes to ride his bicycle, and often participates in charity cycling fundraisers. He also plays soccer in recreational leagues, and likes to relax by sharing fine cuisine with his clients, friends and family.

bklein@bnkj.com

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  Jeffrey G. Olson, CPA, MTX
Partner

Jeff, a partner at BNKJ, has three decades of broad-based public accounting and business experience. Jeff’s practice and client service approach are multi-disciplined. While he is a partner in our firm’s Accounting and Auditing function, he also regularly is assisting clients with his deep experiences in taxation, business capital formation and finance, and general business consulting. He is particularly specialized in the commercial and residential real estate and construction industries. Jeff has served public companies, including several REITs, and has participated in multiple public and private offering transactions. Outside of his real estate and construction specialty, Jeff also serves clients in the logistics, distribution and retail, professional services and hospitality industries.

With these multiple disciplines and abilities, Jeff takes a business advisor approach. He is focused on value creation, while also serving the financial and tax reporting needs of his clients. Jeff particularly enjoys working with privately and closely held business owners, as he is able to use his broad range of experience to provide them with sound insights that really help their businesses. This approach – knowing the client’s business and industry, reviewing financial information and then having the client’s financial statements “tell the story” in a way most useful to them – is what has kept clients loyal to Jeff and loyal to BNKJ for so many years.

Prior to Jeff’s many years of local CPA firm experience, he was with Deloitte & Touche, LLP for 12 years, rising to the Senior Manager level. His educational background includes undergraduate degrees in both accounting and finance from the University of South Carolina, where he also earned a Masters of Taxation in 1984.

Jeff also serves a leadership role at BNKJ as the partner who heads up our marketing activities and initiatives. Professionally Jeff is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and of the Georgia Society of CPAs where he is a member of both the Society’s Real Estate Section (Section Leadership Committee member and past Chairperson (2012/2013)) and Advanced Real Estate Tax Study Group. He has been a guest lecturer on SEC accounting and reporting topics; has drafted responses to AICPA Exposure Drafts and Invitations to Comment; is a member of the National Association of Real Estate Companies (NAREC) and is a past member of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT). Like many Atlantans, Jeff is an avid member of the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association (ALTA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Jeff and his wife Laura live in Marietta, Georgia with their two daughters.

jolson@bnkj.com

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  Stephen M. Rogut, CPA
COO and Partner

Stephen has been a partner since 1999 and works with many of the firm’s largest clients coordinating audits and preparing financial statements. In addition, he conducts internal control studies and provides compliance and consulting services to clients in industries including manufacturing, distribution, professional services, real estate and not-for-profit. Stephen also performs the firm’s technical reviews on all retirement plan audits, as well as all other financial statement engagements.

Known for his organizational and interpersonal skills, as well as his strong work ethic, Stephen is often in the office before the sun rises preparing for his dual role as both the Chief Operating Officer of the firm and an audit partner. Stephen has been COO for the past seven years, and ensures that the firm functions smoothly and profitably just like any of the professional service firms BNKJ represents.

In addition to his client and administrative responsibilities, Stephen coordinates the recruitment of the firm’s professional and administrative staff. His ability to find individuals that match our firm’s needs and culture has enabled BNKJ to keep our people, grow our firm and maintain pace with our increasing and diverse client base.

Stephen is a native of Cape Town, South Africa, and earned accounting and law degrees from the University of Cape Town. Before moving to the United States in 1986, Stephen was employed with Arthur Andersen.

srogut@bnkj.com

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  James W. Lahm, CPA/ABV/CFF
Partner

Jim operates from a simple, core philosophy- the answers lie in asking the right questions. Whether providing tax, accounting or consulting services to his clients, he applies this philosophy to an entrepreneurial outlook and a direct approach. His experience, technical and intuitive skills make him a valued advisor and trusted business partner.

Jim takes complex, technical issues and breaks them down into simple, easy to manage components. This is especially helpful to business owners who want to know about tax planning strategies, financial options, innovative opportunities and creative productivity methods.

Jim has extensive experience in financial reporting and tax services, drawing on economics, finance, and accounting analysis to help his clients. He has a background in performing business valuations, with skills and experience that have proven helpful to clients involved with sales or acquisitions and business succession planning. This knowledge has also helped his traditional clients, because understanding how to measure value can lead to improving value.

A believer in lifelong learning and an avid reader, Jim continually pursues advanced education in tax, valuation, accounting and consulting disciplines. Whether beginning a relationship or broadening an existing one, Jim offers top notch credentials, experience, technical understanding and dedication. He is an ABV (a CPA Accredited in Business Valuation), a CFF (a CPA Certified in Financial Forensics), a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants. Jim earned his B.S. in accounting at Kean College.

A music lover since childhood, he listens to everything from classical and world music to modern jazz and rock and roll. Jim and his wife Bernadette also enjoy the visual arts, international cuisine and traveling.



jlahm@bnkj.com

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  Stafford W. Huff, CPA
Partner

Stafford’s many years of experience in public accounting, combined with his impressive and unique education, have contributed to his very strong and thorough understanding of the common and uncommon challenges facing growing businesses and their owners.

From the beginning of his accounting career in 1986, Stafford has benefited from his involvement in a wide variety of tax and accounting engagements. He prides himself on developing practical solutions and earning the trust of clients, associates and other members of the professional services team.

Stafford focuses his service efforts in taxation and business consulting. He is particularly knowledgeable in the areas of:

  • Real Estate Development, Construction and Investment Entities
  • Timber and Timberland Investment Entities
  • Physician, Dental and Orthodontic Entities
  • High Income and High Net Worth Individuals
  • Closely Held Entities

Stafford is a native of Atlanta and has earned degrees from the University of Georgia and the State University of West Georgia. He currently serves as Secretary on the Board of the Atlanta Tax Forum, and is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants (GSPCA).

shuff@bnkj.com

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  Stephen J. Nadeau, CPA, MTX
Tax Partner

Steve is a tax partner with more than 33 years of experience. Although Steve cites the 1986 Tax Reform Act as the biggest change he’s seen, he has kept abreast of all the ensuing legislation, right through the JGTRRA of 2003, to stay ahead of the game.

With 26+ years of service at BNKJ, Steve has watched the firm grow and change as he has moved from solely reviewing tax returns for other partners to working with some of his own clients. He works predominantly with closely held or consolidated corporate groups, multi-state tax compliance, and non-profits. Steve also works with high net worth individuals on their tax plans and represents clients before the Internal Revenue Service and State Tax Authorities.

Steve knows what it’s like to sit at the desk of many of the corporate clients he serves. He was employed as an assistant controller for a family business for six years before coming to BNKJ, which has given him a unique perspective when working with business owners.

Steve earned a Master in Taxation from Georgia State University. He also earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Georgia State University and is a member of the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of the Certified Public Accountants and the Atlanta Tax Forum.

Steve has the distinction of having the longest commute to the office, as he lives with his wife and two daughters in the outskirts of Metro Atlanta. He enjoys home gardening and golfing.

snadeau@bnkj.com

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L. Gill Fenerty, CPA
Federal and State Tax Partner

Gill Fenerty has more than 15 years experience providing accounting and tax services to public companies and privately held businesses. Gill often works with businesses and individuals on complex matters related to accounting methods and multi-state taxation. His industry focus has been primarily with professional service firms, real estate entities and distribution companies.

Gill has built a niche in both multi-state taxation and law firm practices. He regularly consults with professional service providers in areas such as capital account maintenance, leverage, profitability measures and partner compensation. He also advises multi-state businesses on nexus issues for tax matters involving numerous state incentives and credits available to business and individuals and has vast knowledge regarding different state and local regulations.

Gill gained unique experience when he worked at KPMG, where he was instrumental in the development of a new tax accounting strategies (TAS) group in KPMG’s New Orleans office. The TAS group analyzed company accounting methods to identify possible tax saving opportunities involving income deferral and expense acceleration. In almost all cases, the method changes required the approval of the IRS.

Gill’s experience also includes work as the National Tax Manager for Holland & Knight, LLP, a global, Am Law 100 law firm which is the fifth largest in the United States. In addition to his duties involving partner capital maintenance, Gill honed his state and local skills, advising firm partners throughout the country on their federal, state and local taxes. In addition, Gill maintained the firm’s compliance for all taxes and registrations in more than 20 states.

Upon graduating from Holy Cross College with a BA in History, Gill spent three months in Italy promoting and participating in a local football league. He was then recruited to play professional football for the Toronto Argonauts. After three successful years with the team, Gill joined the New Orleans Saints and played with them for two years.

Athletics still remain a big part of Gill’s life. Whether he is cycling, playing tennis or golf or getting together with Atlantans for some flag football, he spends much of his free time outdoors.

gfenerty@bnkj.com

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Melissa “Missy” Herbert, CPA
Partner

Melissa “Missy” Herbert is an audit partner in the Employee Benefit Services group at BNKJ. She brings more than 18 years of employee benefit plan audit and consulting experience. This experience is supported by a solid understanding of ERISA, DOL and IRS requirements and compliance and reporting and disclosure in all areas of employee benefit plans, including 403(b) plans.

Missy offers public and private companies plan audit knowledge combined with a strong ERISA and plan operations background. This combination provides a full service product to clients, covering virtually all aspects of a company's employee benefit plan. During her career, Missy has performed plan audits and consulting for over 850 different plans with plan bases ranging from 120-50,000 participants and assets from $500,000 to $8.0 billion. Missy also has extensive experience auditing plans that are required to file an annual 11-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Missy is dedicated to providing exceptional client service by tailoring the audit approach to meet the specific needs of each engagement, which results in increased audit efficiency and timeliness of audit completion. Missy researches complex accounting and auditing issues and shares with the BNKJ plan audit team any emerging matters or trends that may impact our clients.

Prior to joining BNKJ, Missy served as the Director of the Southeastern practice of Deloitte’s benefit plan practice and also served on Deloitte’s national board, which was responsible for the development of the firm’s benefit plan training materials and audit methodology surrounding the benefit plan industry.

Missy currently serves on the Employee Benefit Plan Task Force for the State of Georgia and the Review and Advisory Board for the Georgia Society, and she is an active member of the Women in Pensions, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants. Recently, Missy authored an audit guide on how to audit employee benefit plans, entitled Knowledge-based Audits of Employee Benefit Plans. Speaking engagements for Missy include the Georgia Society Employee Benefit Plan Annual Conference; UBS Fiduciary Forum, Deloitte National Employee Benefit Plan Training and several regional state society employee benefit plan training conferences. Missy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting at the University of New Orleans, and is a certified public accountant.

Missy grew up in New Orleans and moved to Atlanta almost 14 years ago. She has two children, Jessica and Jake and is also a 1st grade religious education teacher at Transfiguration Catholic Church in Marietta. When she is not at work or carpooling her children to swim practice and swim meets, she enjoys running marathons and watching LSU and New Orleans Saints football.

mherbert@bnkj.com

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  Carryn Whiteford, CPA
Audit Partner

Carryn has more than 12 years of experience providing auditing, retirement plan auditing, and accounting and advisory services to multinational SEC, international and privately held clients, most notably in the manufacturing, distribution, real estate and technology industries.

Prior to joining BNKJ, Carryn was an Audit Manager at Deloitte & Touche, LLP. Some of her responsibilities there included managing multiple engagement teams; reviewing and evaluating financial data, business processes and internal controls; and researching and evaluating the impact of emerging accounting pronouncements.

Carryn is originally from Durban, South Africa and began her career at Deloitte & Touche’s Durban office in 1998. She later transferred to their Atlanta office to continue her service in accounting.

Carryn earned her accounting degrees from the University of Natal, South Africa. She is a member of the AICPA and the Georgia Society of CPAs.

Carryn lives in East Cobb and enjoys spending her free time with her husband, two daughters and son.

cwhiteford@bnkj.com

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