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Meet Our Team

Our Team

David Jon Lerner CPA CVA - Partner 404.502.1594

David Lerner has served publicly traded companies and privately funded entrepreneurs, owners, investors, and their families in a wide range of industries as a business strategist and financial advisor, and he has developed expertise in financial/securities, legal, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, distribution, retail, real estate, construction, and non-profit sectors.

David advises clients with emerging and middle-market ownership and management decision-making issues and innovating strategies for growth, succession, taxation, and valuation.s an active entrepreneur advising entrepreneurs, he has developed and sold a small retail shopping center along with owning and operating a Bruster's Real Ice Cream franchise with his family's private investment group. Current development projects with clients include a 75 acre mixed-use active living "green" development, and the national expansion of a specialty beverage brand, and NNN leasing real estate fund.

David has performed valuations for management and succession planning, public and private company M&A transaction advisory, IRS/Inland Revenue taxation matters, SEC/FASB financial reporting matters, litigation support and expert witness engagements. He has valued small start-ups as well as private and publicly traded companies with market caps into the $100s of millions and business enterprise value reaching $1 billion.

David is a member of the AICPA, GSCPAs (past Board member and governance task force), NACVA, and the Southern Capital forum fka Atlanta Venture Forum.

David obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Georgia. He volunteers with the Board of the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools - Partners in Education, Grady HS, Inman MS - Crosswalk Dads. He is active with Haygood UMC in Morningside with his family, Ansley Golf Club and The Buckhead Club.

Robert L. Whitehurst CPA - Partner 770.712.9228

Robert L. Whitehurst CPA is the latest Partner to join Ascent | CPA. Robert has a broad public accounting background that enables him to provide a holistic tax consulting approach for start-up to established large businesses. Robert has a strong technical background in multi-state corporate and partnership taxation. Robert provides tax and consulting services to many industries, including, but not limited to, professional & financial services, investments, real estate, construction, technology, manufacturing and distribution.

Robert began his accounting career at GE Capital where he served for 5 years and then transitioned to public accounting in 2005 where he worked with several of Atlanta's most respected regional public accounting Firms.

In addition to Robert's broad business background, he has experience in high net-worth personal and international tax compliance as well as the corresponding state returns. He also leverages his strong knowledge of Federal and State tax credits as part of his comprehensive personal and business tax advisory services.

Robert has extensive experience working with section 501(c) organizations. He has developed significant expertise in assisting nonprofit organizations navigate their way through the complex world of tax-exempt entity rules and regulations, reporting requirements, unrelated business income minimization and governance issues.

Robert believes providing excellent client service is paramount. He actively works with clients to help them meet their goals through timely and accurate return preparation as well as serving as a trusted independent tax advisor for tax planning. Robert is known for his creative tax planning, full service tax compliance, consulting, and structuring.

Fran Thompson CPA – Managing Director, Tax Accounting 904.515.8245

Fran Thompson is Ascent | CPA's tax managing director with more than 16 years of experience in providing tax accounting and compliance services to a variety of industries including professional service and healthcare, technology, non-profit, manufacturing, distribution, hedge funds, international, construction, and real estate. She has extensive experience completing returns for corporations, partnerships, non-profit organizations, trusts, benefit plans, individuals and multiple states for residents/non-residents/multistate apportionment.

In addition, Fran is proactive in tax planning by identifying tax deductions and tax credits to minimize taxes. She also has experience in resolving federal and state tax notices, as well as, assisting clients with income, payroll and sales tax audits.

Fran is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Georgia Society of CPA's, and is licensed in the state of Georgia and Florida. She is also a member of the Ponte Vedra Woman’s Club, a charitable nonprofit organization.

Fran obtained a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Georgia State University. She volunteers with the Ponte Vedra Woman’s Club, Jacksonville Humane Society and First Coast No More Homeless Pets.

J. Wade Shields MBA/MHA CMPE - Principal, Physician Advisory 706.340.4716

Wade specializes in providing advisory, guidance, and C-level interim management to hospital employed medical groups and private medical practices. He has a consistent track record of accomplishments which exemplify a professional with a reputation for building ROI, creating efficient infrastructure and operations resulting in rapid financial improvements.

Wade has held Manager, Director and senior leadership positions for corporations including HCA, Healthtrust and Columbia. He also has physician practice management experience in MSO operations, Administrator of multi-specialty physician group, and Director of network development for a multi-specialty IPA.

Christopher B. Smith CPA/CGMA - Managing Director, SAAS & Outsourcing 770.841.2270

Chris consults with Ascent | CPA clients on matters of business process & financial accounting automation, designing and implementing SAAS solutions, and outsourcing. Chris is our Managing Director over these services utilizing our Green Division LLC platform for Intuit QuickBooks and Microsoft SharePoint.

Chris has previously served as corporate controller at Ingenico, a leading provider of payment solutions with millions of terminals deployed in more than 125 countries, and Nations Healthcare as assistant controller, a home healthcare provider. Chris serves businesses experiencing rapid-growth, remote workforce, and/or automation initiatives to contain costs including real estate, construction, technology/SAAS, manufacturing and distribution, business and financial services, healthcare, retail, franchising, and non-profits.