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Three's a Charm

 Bill Early
 Bill Early

Matt Birkelien
Matt Birkelien

Thomas Rey (TR)
Thomas Rey (TR)

How often do you see three alumni make partner in the same time span of a year? How often do you see those three alumni work for the same firm? How often do you see the same three alumni work in the same office?

In 2009, Salisbury University (formerly Salisbury State University) witnessed these very three events occur. Bill Early, Thomas Rey (TR) and Matt Birkelien all made partner at the same time, for the same firm and in the same office with Clifton Gunderson. Now that's a Trifecta! Clifton Gunderson has since merged with Larson Allen to form CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CLA). CLA is the 10th largest accounting firm in the country and has two offices in Maryland, including Timonium, where Bill, TR and Matt still work. CLA helps businesses, governments, nonprofits, and the individuals who own and lead them. From offices coast-to-coast, our professionals practice in specific industries to deliver audit, tax, consulting, and outsourcing capabilities best aligned with our clients' needs. For more information, visit

Bill, TR and Matt rose quickly through hard work and dedication and made partner within six months of each other in 2009. The timing was right in terms of growth of their respective practices, as well as the firm as a whole. To add to the impressive feat and to show the diversity of the three partners, each works within a different industry.

Bill works in the firm’s State and Local Government and Construction practices. Within the State and Local Government industry, his client base includes school districts, local municipalities, counties and state-wide audits. When he is not serving those clients, he spends his time focusing on his contractor clients that range in size from a small family-owned company to one of the largest contractors in the country. Often times, most staff will work in two industries to maintain a consistent practice throughout the year. The timing of the work for the Contractors and the Governments made these two industries a perfect fit for Bill. In addition to his client related work, Bill currently oversees recruiting and staffing for the Baltimore office.

Matt works in the State and Local Government and Financial Institutions practices with clients ranging from Local County Governments to both Banks and Credit Unions (including two of the top five largest credit unions in the country). As with Bill, Matt works in both industries but he was recently promoted to be the East Coast Region Financial Institutions’ Group Leader and will be working to concentrate more of his efforts and attention to the Financial Institutions industry. He also works closely with firm management and the firm’s partner in charge of Financial Institutions to ensure the partners and staff in the region are properly aligned with the strategies and goals of the firm.

TR works in the State and Local Government industry and is the firm’s leader of the public pension plan sub-niche. His current clients range from smaller Municipality-based Pension Plans all the way to larger complex State plans across the country. The services he provides to these plans range from audit and assurance projects through specialized consulting arrangements.

All three of these partners continue to grow personally and professionally, but have not lost touch with their alma matter and routinely interview or participate in the recruitment of current Salisbury University students. As a firm, we have well over 20 current staff members from the University and we want to continue the solid relationship with Dr. Smith, Dr. Wood and the rest of the faculty to provide opportunities for the students to work for a growing firm and which gives those students the freedom to choose an industry they are passionate about and provide them a springboard to reach their career goals.

We encourage you to reach out to CLA or any of these partners for career tips or questions as well as to inquire of opportunities to start their employment with a solid firm large enough to provide multiple industries and opportunities with office locations across the country.

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