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News | March 27, 2024

Celebrating Women who Advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Kathie Sumrow

By DCAA Staff Writer

Kathie Sumrow is a Senior Auditor at an Eastern Region DCAA office. Before joining DCAA, Kathie started her life in the world of music. For 20 years, she was a classical musician, performing and teaching music all around the world. Kathie is 50 percent Native American and was born with a non-correctable visual disability called Schedule A legal blindness that makes reading across a page or on the computer virtually impossible. When Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990, Kathie saw a chance to revisit her education. With reasonable accommodations, not only did Kathie become a certified public accountant (CPA) in the state of Connecticut, but she also became a licensed attorney in the states of Connecticut and New York.

Kathie’s journey exemplifies the power of resilience and advocacy in the face of adversity. It also demonstrates the importance of understanding and sharing knowledge of different backgrounds and experiences. Returning to her education with ADA and IDEA accommodations, Kathie still found herself facing challenges in pursuit of her education. When denied the reasonable accommodations for the CPA exam that she had been using in the classroom, Kathie challenged the ruling. With the help of her accounting professor and a vision specialist, she became the first person to secure accommodations for the CPA exam in the State of Connecticut, opening the door for others and improving the process for future generations.

In the office and throughout her life, Kathie steadfastly advocates for fairness and justice for everyone. “Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). I saw those words and said to myself, my goodness, they’re describing my life.” As a dedicated leader in the workplace and an active member of the DEIA council, Kathie takes every opportunity to contribute, encourage, and mentor her communities to advocate for a fair and accessible future for all.