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Cleveland CPA strives to set an example for the Latino community

Written on Oct 12, 2023

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager  

Going back to school after having a family and earning the CPA wasn’t easy for Luis Cartagena, but he knew it would be well worth the effort.   

“It was something I wanted, and there was no way I was going to fail,” he said. “I made the time to study even when it seemed like there was none And I think that anybody that's looking to succeed and get ahead in their life or their career, they have to be prepared to put in the time.” 

Cartagena, now the president & CEO of Cartagena CPA & Consultants, was recently named a 2023 Notable Latino Leader and 2023 Notable Leader in Accounting & Consulting by Crain’s Cleveland Business.  

While he said he appreciates and is humbled by the recognition, Cartagena’s path to the profession wasn’t always a straight line despite enrolling in college as an accounting major. After having a child in his early 20s, he put his undergrad education on hold to work full-time to help support his family. He opened a few businesses during his 20s that ultimately ended up closing and said he always felt he was missing a stronger understanding of the accounting aspect of the business.  

He eventually found his way back to the profession and enrolled in the University of Phoenix for his bachelor’s degree and earned his master’s degree in financial planning and accounting from Ursuline College.  

Cartagena said he always knew after choosing accounting that he would sit for the CPA exam, and one day he came across an article that said less than 1% of the sbf111胜博发 in the seven-county region in Northeast Ohio were Latino.  

“I cut that out and I stuck it on a wall in my house and on a wall at work,” he said. “And that was my motivation to get through the process.”  

After earning the CPA in 2016 he said he felt prepared to run his own business again and opened his firm in 2017. He works heavily with startups and given his own background as an entrepreneur said he’s better able to relate to their perspective.   

He’s lived in Cleveland since he was a teenager and has a strong passion for his community. He acts as a trustee or board member for Neighborhood Family Practice, the Council of Smaller Enterprises, The Land and the Borderlight Festival. 

Cartagena is bilingual, and he regularly works with Latino business owners who have had difficulty communicating with prior accountants. He said he can help them with taxes or business opportunities and enjoys the chance to help their businesses prosper. 

“I've always felt that it's very important as I become successful that I continue to stay involved in the community,” Cartagena said. “So that younger generations could see people that look and talk and come from the same neighborhood as them. I'm a firm believer that you can't control what you're born into. But you can control where you end up.”  


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