Ira Wayne McConnell

Founding Partner, Managing Partner

Ira Wayne McConnell is Managing Partner where he is primarily responsible for guiding the firms’ strategic direction and has overall responsibility for management of administrative functions, including human resources, accounting, marketing and information technology.

As Partner-In-Charge of the firm’s assurance practice, he has oversight responsibility of the audit division’s quality control system; making sure that it adheres to the peer review and inspection requirements of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Public Company Accounting and Oversight Board (PCAOB). He also conducts engagement partner and concurring partner technical reviews of audit reports and the related financial statements, ensuring that the engagements have been performed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and the financial statements are being presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. His clients include publicly-traded and privately-held entities in a variety of industries and he is familiar with 10-K, 11-K and 10-Q filing requirements.

In addition to his responsibilities as managing partner, Wayne contributes his time to the public services sector. At the American Heart Association, he is a board member of the SouthWest Affiliate, and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Houston Partnership where he sits on the Audit and Finance Committees. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Houston City Club as well as Grambling State University’s Black & Gold Foundation.  Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Greater Houston where he is also Chairman of the Audit Committee and a member of the Executive Committee.  He is a member of the Board of Directors and chairs the Audit Committee at Erin Energy.

Wayne’s previous committee and board service includes the Houston Museum of African American Culture, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, the Board of Trustees and Finance Committee of the Carl G. Jung Educational Center, the Finance Committee of the United Way of Texas Gulf Coast, and board member for Project Rowhouses and the United Negro College Fund.


BBA, Accounting, Grambling State University (1972)
Masters of Accounting, Louisiana Tech University (1977)


Certified Public Accountant – States of Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, New Jersey, Illinois and the District of Columbia
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, Houston Chapter
PricewaterhouseCoopers Alumni Advisory Council

Thomas Jones Jr.


With close to four decades of experience in tax compliance and financial management, Mr. Thomas Jones Jr. works directly with corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners to provide financial solutions that promote long-term business success. He started his career as a tax manager with Ernst & Ernst, and in 1996 connected with Wayne McConnell to establish the CPA firm of McConnell & Jones. Today, Thomas serves an array of industries such as banking, healthcare, oil / gas, manufacturing and distribution, professional services, and nonprofit agencies.

Thomas is an expert in tax compliance and structuring; specifically within the federal and multi-state tax areas. He also has assisted clients with merger and acquisition transactions and designed structures for the purchase and sale of business operations. Furthermore, he offers substantial experience serving the gift, estate, and trusts tax consulting and compliance needs of high net worth taxpayers.

Throughout his professional career, Thomas has actively served the community through his involvement in numerous civic endeavors. He is a founding board member of the Spirit of Texas Bank, where he also chairs the audit committee and is a member of the senior loan committee. Additionally, Thomas serves as Vice Chairman of the Florida A&M University Foundation, and is the past Chairman of the Board of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Previous boards served include the American Red Cross, Trees for Houston, The United Negro College Fund, and Acres Homes Citizens Chamber of Commerce (founding member).

Thomas retired from McConnell Jones at the the end of 2021


Florida A&M University, BBA Accounting – Summa Cum Laude, (1977)
Certified Public Accountant – States of Texas
Series 24 and 7 Securities Licenses – NASD
Group I Life and Health Insurance License, State of Texas


American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Houston Chapter of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants
National Association for Black Accountants
American Leadership Forum Class XVII, Senior Fellow
Leadership Houston, Class VII, Graduate

Odysseus Lanier

Founding Partner, Management Advisory/Consulting Practice Leader

A Certified Public Accountant with more than 35 years of experience, Mr. Odysseus Lanier leads the firm’s Internal Audit and Risk Advisory practice which works with a myriad of publicly traded and privately held companies and financial institutions as well as federal, state, and local governments and nonprofit organizations. His background includes financial and operational auditing, facilities and use management, administrative and financial management, organizational reviews, strategic planning, project management and control, and management performance audits.

Odysseus is a proven practice leader who effectively manages complex, large scale projects with a high degree of satisfaction. He has been heavily involved in all aspects of process evaluation and documentation, corporate governance as-is and to-be state of readiness, risk assessments, root-cause analysis and internal audit assignments. Additionally, Odysseus has evaluated governance structures; created team-building systems; organized and directed change management; established strategic outsourcing alternatives; and analyzed general business operations. He has extensive knowledge of federal, state, and local procurement policy, procurement strategies, contracting processes, and process improvement strategies.

Community service is a priority for Odysseus who serves on the Board of Trustees for his alma mater, Alabama A&M University. He is the former chairperson of the Board of Commissioners for the Harris County Housing Authority, and currently serves on the board of directors of Mental Health America of Greater Houston; the board of directors of the Joe Sample Youth Organization; and the corporate board for the Youth Motivation Task Force sponsored by the Alabama A&M University Career Development Services Office.


Graduate of Alabama A&M University with a B.S. in Accounting
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)


American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Institute of Internal Auditors

Sharon Murphy

Founding Partner, Management Advisory/Consulting

Sharon E. Murphy is a partner within consulting division of McConnell & Jones and a founding partner with McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy LLP (MJLM), a Houston, Texas-based consulting and accounting firm.

With more than 30 years of professional experience, Sharon heads the firm’s education practice and is responsible for a national clientele that has included 20 of the nation’s top 100 school districts in 13 states. She also oversees complex, large-scale engagements for federal agencies with nationwide scope. Sharon has been a panelist at national meetings for Council of Great City Schools and the National School Board Association addressing issues on public education.

Her civic involvement includes serving on the board of directors of the Houston Gulf Coast Chapter of American Leadership Forum (board chair for 2016 and 2017), The Ensemble Theatre, Houston Arts Alliance and Unity National Bank.

Sharon has been recognized as one of the “Top 30” Most Influential Women by, and as a “Woman of Distinction” by the Houston Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and Houston’s ABC affiliate, KTRK Channel 13. She has also been the recipient of the Building Block Award by Child Builders, Houston’s advocates for mental health in children.


Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Indiana University
Master of Business Administration in Finance, Clark Atlanta University

Tené Thomas


Ms. Tené Thomas is a licensed CPA with more than 19 years of technical experience in tax compliance and accounting services. As Partner of the Tax and Accounting practice, Tené serves a myriad of industries including entertainment, professional services, health care, real estate, and investment advisory services. This diverse knowledge allows her to provide high quality and comprehensive services to clients.

Tené , who started her career with Ernst & Young LLP, is the lead partner on tax engagements where she works with a diverse mix of corporations, partnerships, sole proprietors and individuals. While tax compliance is important, Tené believes that a proactive approach to tax planning is essential. She is passionate about tax planning and optimization and actively partners with business owners to identify tax strategies, planning opportunities, and compliance solutions.

Tené serves the community through her involvement on the Board of Directors for the National Kidney Foundation of Southeast Texas. She has also served as a weekly business contributor on CNN’s 650AM talk radio program “The Price of Business”, and has been called upon as an expert contributor in several articles for Accounting Today, a leading trade magazine.


Certified Public Accountant, State of Texas
Certified Public Accountant, State of California
BS in Business Administration, California Polytechnic University, Pomona 1995


Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA)
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)

Eric Ernest


Mr. Eric Ernest has more than 24 years of experience in accounting and financial audits for a variety of industries and plan sponsors. For the past 15 years he has planned, managed and supervised hundreds of employee benefit plan audit engagements for a variety of plan sponsors including Fortune 500 companies, privately owned companies and numerous nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies. His experience includes assurance and compliance services for defined contribution and defined benefit retirement and health and welfare plans covering all types of funding and benefit arrangements and regulatory reporting requirements.

Eric is the firm’s designated partner and participates in the activities of the AICPA’s Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center. He also serves as a speaker at the AICPA National Conference on Employee Benefit Plans, actively participates in national webinars and conducts firm-sponsored training for plan sponsors on Employee Benefit Plan topics.

In addition to his responsibilities in the firm’s Employee Benefit Plan Team, Eric serves on the Employee Benefit Plan Advisory Committee of the Maryland Association of CPAs and has served on the Greater Houston Partnership’s Air Quality Sub-Committee.


BS, Accounting & Finance Middlesex University, London
Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, UK


American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, State of Texas and the District of Columbia
Texas Society of CPAs
Maryland Association of CPAs
Association of Government Accountants

Mark Schwartz

Partner, Federal Services Audit Lead

Mr. Mark Schwartz is an expert in federal audit, internal controls, and financial reporting. As the Assurance and Advisory Services Director in the Washington D.C. office, he offers more than 24 years of experience in executing assurance work for federal agencies and is responsible for providing assurance and advisory services to federal, state and local governments, not-for-profit organizations, and commercial entities. Additionally, he is active in college campus recruiting efforts for the firm.

Mark is well versed in financial advisory and compliance services to governmental agencies and is a certified public accountant licensed in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. He has a special expertise in accounting and reporting including internal controls and compliance with regulations pursuant to CFO Act, GAO Yellow Book (GAGAS), Financial Audit Manual (FAM) requirements, the Treadway Commission’s COSO Frameworks, and the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act (IPERIA).

Mark is an active member of the American Society of Military Comptrollers, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Association of Government Accountants where he served on the executive board.


Bachelor of Science, Accounting, University of Maryland University College, 1994
Bachelor of Science, Public Administration, Indiana University, 1988
Certified Defense Financial Manager
Certified Public Accountant -District of Columbia, Maryland, and Commonwealth of Virginia

Darlene Brown

Partner, Enterprise Risk Services

Ms. Darlene Brown is a Partner with our Risk Advisory practice. She has more than 18 years’ experience in leading internal audits, SOX Section 404 compliance testing, internal control evaluation, operational performance reviews, and business process reviews. She has oversight responsibility for our co-sourced and outsourced internal audit services with a diverse clientele in all business sectors including state government entities, higher education, not-for-profit organizations, Fortune 500 companies, and public and privately held businesses.
Darlene specializes in identifying and evaluating business risks and management controls; assessing internal controls; assessing compliance with regulations and policies; analyzing business process and identifying improvement opportunities; operational restructuring; and identifying cost containment opportunities.
Her experience extends beyond the traditional internal audit and controls evaluation approach to provide a wide range of solutions to organizational challenges faced by clients. She helps clients identify root causes to their business process challenges then collaborates with the leadership team to develop implementable actions to improve internal controls, operate more efficiently and cost effectively.

Darlene has established internal audit departments and served as internal audit director serving Eastern Europe for a multi-national manufacturing company. She has also worked closely with local law enforcement, the IRS, and FBI to document evidence and provide depositions.


Audencia School of Business, Aix-en-Provence France, Masters of Business Administrations, Concentration in International Business
University of Texas, Bachelor of Business Administration, Accounting Magna Cum Laude
Certified Internal Auditor
Certified Fraud Examiner

Bob Armstrong

Partner, Commercial Services Audit Lead

Bob brings the experience of both an external auditor, including Big 4 firms; along with industry experience as the head of internal audit for a public company. “Extreme Ownership” and “Servant Leadership” style of management with an active hands-on approach that produces results for clients and helps grow teams.

  Sharjeel Ahsan

Partner, EBP Assurance

Mr. Sharjeel Ahsan is an Audit Director within the EBP sector of McConnell Jones. He has over 15 years of experience leading audits of employee benefit pension and welfare benefit plans (EBP) for a variety of plan sponsors and industries. He is responsible for managing his clients’ EBP audits that range from regional non-profit organizations to large Fortune 500 public companies.

He is highly skilled in planning and supervising employee benefit plan audits, including defined contribution plans, defined benefit plans, health and welfare plans with a section 401(h) arrangement, and master trust investment accounts.

Sharjeel received his MBA in Accounting & Finance from Nicholls State University in Louisiana and his BBA in Accounting & Marketing from the University of Central Punjab in Pakistan. He is also a certified public accountant (CPA) licensed in the state of Texas.

Sharjeel is a Hobbyist, a Photographer and a Drone enthusiast.

Chuck Kozlik

Partner, Governmental, Non Profit

Mr. Kozlik has experience leading both state and local government and higher education practices in northern Illinois He served previously with KPMG in both Chicago and Washington, DC for the first 15 years of his career. He specializes in performing audits of state and local government entities, and higher education institutions.
His technical experience while working in Chicago, IL and Washington, DC, included financial statement audits for Federal, state and local governmental entities and private sector clients, including a number of Single Audits of various grant awardees.Mr. Kozlik has also experience working on engagements for private, for-profit enterprises during his career.

Gilbert Hopkins


Mr. Gilbert Hopkins specializes in providing financial management and business process improvement services to organizations in many industries. With more than 35 years of business experience, Gilbert has performed a multitude of compliance, operational and efficiency audits in both the public and private sectors; his background includes financial audits, performance audits, compliance reviews, business process analysis, cost studies, strategy implementation and research projects for city and state government agencies, universities, independent school districts, as well as companies within the energy, manufacturing, transportation, and education industries.

A Certified Public Accountant, Gilbert is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Institute of Internal Auditors. He is considered a subject matter expert in performance auditing and has made various presentations on topics such as “Successful Project Management” and “Partnering for Success.” Additionally, he has presented on various fraud topics for the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Association of Black School Educators. His article, “Corporate Credit Cards: Convenience or Cash Cow?” was published by Texas Nonprofits, an organization that provides information and other resources and support via the Internet to help build stronger, more viable nonprofit organizations.


Youngstown State University, Bachelor of Science, Business Administration-Accounting
Certified Public Accountant, Texas

Liz Meyers

Director, Information Technology Consulting

Ms. Liz Meyers is an Information Technology Director within the Consulting and Internal Audit sectors of McConnell Jones (MJ) and has over 30 years of experience in internal controls, business processes and information technology. She is an accomplished executive with broad information systems and financial background and is recognized for her strategic and operational focus.  Liz’s exceptional ability to identify risks to business objectives, gaps in control processes, as well as implementable solutions to manage risks to acceptable levels has led her to be nationally recognized as a trusted advisor to clients, peers, and staff; by exemplifying a transparent, analytical, creative, and collaborative approach. She is responsible for managing operational and IT audits for clients that range from regional, non-profit organizations to large Fortune 500 public companies.

Liz began with MJ in December 2019 as an audit manager and was promoted to Director, IT Consulting in November 2020.  Prior to this, Liz was a Chief Audit Executive and Sr. Director of IT Client Solutions for a Fortune 100 company where she was responsible for 21-person internal audit department, directed financial and operational audits throughout the corporation, implemented a risk-based audit approach and identified continuous emerging issues facing operations and implemented functional solutions.

Liz began her career as a staff auditor working in the audit division of a former “Big Eight” CPA firm.  Most recently, she was a Sr. Internal Audit Manager at Texas Mutual Insurance Company.  Liz works with organizations’ internal audit departments to implement a risk-based audit approach and identified continuous emerging issues facing operations and implement functional solutions.

Liz received her MBA from the University of Houston and her BBA in Accounting from Texas A&M University.  She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the state of Texas, a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and a Certified Scrum Master (CSM).  She is a professional member of the National Speakers Association and served on their Chapter Leadership Committee.

Liz is…a Dog Mom, a World experiencer, and a Disneyphile.

Michelle Brumfield

Audit Director

Chris Williamson

CISA, CDPSE, Security+
IT Senior Audit Manager, Internal Audit, Consulting

Mr. Chris Williamson, a information technology (IT) senior audit manager in the internal audit division of McConnell Jones (MJ), with over 18 years of business operations experience, eight (8) years have been in the internal audit and IT auditor field. Chris’s IT audit experience includes conducting comprehensive logical and physical access audits, assessments of server and network infrastructure devices and technologies, and performing vulnerability and wireless security assessments and penetration tests.

Prior to joining MJ, Chris worked with Ferrovial, a Spanish multinational company involved in the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of transport infrastructure and urban services. Chris has also worked in various internal auditing positions with the Lower Colorado River Authority and Myers & Stauffer, LC Certified Public Accountants.

Chris received his BS in Computer Information Systems Security from Our Lady of the Lake University. He holds two (2) AS degrees, one in Computer Networking and Security Technology from Texas State Technical College and the other in Ecological Controls from Community College of the Air Force Maxwell-Gunther AFB. He is certified in CompTIA Security+, a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE).

Chris is also a veteran of the United States Air Force with ten (10) years of service.

Chris is a Technophile, an Environmentalist and a Traditionalist.

Linda Gilliam

Consulting Director

Ms. Linda Gilliam is a director with MJ. She is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 25 years of experience in internal auditing, performance reviews, business process reviews, program evaluation and special projects. Her extensive experience includes interviewing key personnel; documenting processes in narrative form and in process maps; collecting and analyzing data; developing work plans to achieve overall project objectives; evaluating internal controls, identifying best practices, and preparing comprehensive reports with findings and practical recommendations.

Ms. Gilliam has experience in conducting K‐12 and higher education management and performance reviews including project management assistance, survey administration, and developing comprehensive findings and recommendations for the components reviewed. She has considerable experience assessing organizational structures, staffing, and best practices in conducting management and performance reviews. Ms. Gilliam’s experience includes reviews of the facilities, safety and security, and financial management components of performance review.

Nicole Huang

Audit Director

Ms. Huang has over 18 years of audit and accounting experience and has managed numerous financial and compliance audit engagements for a variety nonprofit organizations under auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America, Government Auditing Standards, and Uniform Guidance compliance audits, similar to this engagement including Washington Mathematics Science and Technology PCS ,Faith Family Academy, Nova Charter School, Waco Charter School, Richland Collegiate Charter School, Universal Academy, San Antonio Preparatory School ,Wayside Schools, Brazos School for Inquiry and Creativity, Rise Academy, Priority System, Inc., St. Phillips Scholl and Community Center (and its Foundation), Avance, Inc. (parent company, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin chapters), Communities In Schools of Houston, Dallas County Community College District Foundation, and Economic Opportunities Advancement Corporation to name a few.

 Shawana Spann

Partner, Not For Profit Audit

Ms. Shawana Spann is a partner with McConnell Jones and she leads the firm’s Not-for-Profit Audit and Assurance practice. Ms. Spann has over 24 years of experience in accounting, financial and compliance auditing and business consulting. Ms. Spann’s industry experience is varied, including local and state government, higher education, not-for-profit, transportation, and privately held corporations.
Ms. Spann supports the firm’s audit quality control system across all assurance departments. She also leads client and staff development strategies in North Carolina through community outreach and recruiting.


Ms. Spann holds earned her MS, Accounting, at University of Virginia and her BS, Accounting, at North Carolina A&T State University

She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – North Carolina, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, North Carolina Association of CPAS and the National Association of Black Accountants.

 Kenneth Gibbs

Partner, Tax

Kenneth Gibbs leads the firm’s North Carolina Tax practice. Ken has more than 20 years of experience in overall management of administrative matters, tax matters including meeting with clients, preparation of tax returns, assisting clients with tax audits, filing petitions with the tax court, responding to IRS or NCDOR written inquiries, obtaining penalty abatements and providing tax planning advise.

Ken is also responsible for client and staff development  in North Carolina, recruiting, hiring, budgetary and financial matters, maintaining quality control standards and providing technical expertise to client and firm members as needed.

Mr. Gibbs is a Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central University, earned his Masters of Taxation from University of New Haven and Bachelors of Science from North Carolina Central University.

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