Highline College, the oldest community college in King County and the most diverse higher education institution in the state, recognized 1995 graduate Ed Ramos as this year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award winner. Ramos, who has worked in the accounting industry for 20 years, has dedicated much of his career to recruiting, retaining, and advocating for minorities in the accounting profession.

Photo courtesy of Ed Ramos.

This work started early in his career: As a Latino in accounting, Ramos felt alienated, lacked role models, and had difficulty in visualizing his future in the profession. His feelings toward his position as a CPA and shareholder with the firm DP&C, however, changed drastically when he attended conferences through the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA). The organization gave him the support he needed to stay in the accounting industry, and he ultimately co-founded the Seattle chapter of ALPFA to encourage Latino professionals in the Puget Sound region to do the same.

In 2011, Ramos was selected as Washington’s first CPA to attend the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Leadership Academy; he went on to participate in an AICPA commission that identifies strategies to retain and advance underrepresented minorities in accounting.

“Our profession must represent the community that we serve. Without having a diverse profession, we are not providing our clients with the best service,” Ramos said. As Tacoma — and the rest of the Puget Sound — becomes increasingly more racially and ethnically diverse, it is important that service-based professions like accounting diversify as well.

A Tacoma native born to Puerto Rican parents, Ramos has dedicated his career to working hard for a status quo of acceptance and diversity in his profession. 23 years after he graduated from Highline College, this constant dedication has earned him the Distinguished Alumnus Award, which honors former Highline students who have made notable achievements in their profession and community. Ramos, whose advocacy extends beyond his career and into the volunteer work he does with Rotary 8, Centro Latino, and Tacoma Community House, is clearly a perfect fit.