Sovereign’s experienced staff comes with over 100 collective years of experience in serving the public’s accounting needs. To contact one of us, please see our contact form or reach out to any team member via the email or telephone extensions listed below.
Areas of Specialization and Experience
Mary Lou is in charge of the accounting and auditing practice of the firm. She provides a full range of tax, audit, accounting andconsulting services to the firm’s clients. She has also provided litigation support including expert testimony, depositions, lost profit calculations, and assistance in settlement proposals. Mary Lou is also involved in the firm’s business valuation practice. In addition, she is responsible for the firm’s quality control policies and procedures as well as in-house continuing professional education.
Mary Lou has over 37 years of experience, both in the public and private sectors, and in a variety of industries.
- Contract construction
- Information technology
- Automobile and equipment dealerships
- Not-for-profit entities
- Employee benefit plans
- She has also served as an instructor for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Ms. Rutherford received her undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Montevallo. She subsequently attained a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Mary Lou has also earned the Certificate of Educational Achievement in Business Valuations from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Certified Business Appraiser (CBA)
- Certified Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
- Professional Affiliations
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
- Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants
- Birmingham Chapter of Certified Public Accountants
- Institute of Business Appraisers, Inc.
- Construction Financial Management Association
- Civic Affiliations and Community Service
- Participant in the mentor program for accounting majors at a local university
- Mentor for Institute of Business Appraisers, Inc. members
- Member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative – United Way of Central Alabama, Inc.
- Volunteer fundraiser for various organizations including American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, March of Dimes, and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Diana Shaw Knight is a founding member of Sovereign CPA Group, LLC. Prior to the founding of Sovereign in June of 2010, she was a partner at a Birmingham public accounting firm, which she joined as an associate in 1986, following four years of employment with the Examination Division of the Internal Revenue Service. She assists clients with complex income and estate tax planning issues; business, individual and fiduciary tax compliance; estate and trust management; business valuations; financial planning and budgeting; purchasing and selling businesses; retirement planning; business planning, and dealing with elder care issues.
In 1999, Ms. Knight obtained her Certified Valuation Analyst credential from the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA). The CVA designation is an indication to the professional community that Ms. Knight has met the Association’s rigorous standards of professionalism, expertise, objectivity, and integrity in the field of business valuation, litigation support, and related consulting disciplines. After completing the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ training program in Business Valuation in 1997, she received the AICPA’s Business Valuation Certificate of Educational Achievement. She has been an active member of NACVA since 1999.
Diana is also a graduate of the 2018 – 2019 Leadership Hoover class, and was elected to the organization’s Board of Directors in 2019, currently serving a three-year term.
Community service is also important to Ms. Knight. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of Hoover’s Aldridge Gardens since 2012 (“Nature and Art in Balance” on a 30-acre woodland garden site right here in Hoover) – serving as President for two of those years. In 2019 she joined the Board of Directors of Community Grief Support – which provides free counseling and support to community members who are struggling with the many challenges related to the loss of a loved one. She served on the Board of Directors of the Turning Point Foundation from 1996 through 2004, as well as the Board of Directors of Operation New Birmingham’s Magic City Art Connection from 2000 through 2004. She has served as President, Vice-President and Secretary of South Highland Child Development Center’s Parent Teacher Alliance. In 1995 she was selected to participate in the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Leadership Development Program. She was also an officer on the Board of the Brock’s Gap Swim Club and served on the Hoover City Schools Career/ Technical Education System Advisory Committee.
Ms. Knight received her Bachelor of Science of Accounting from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants, and serves on the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants’ Federal Income Tax Committee.
Ms. Knight is married to Pleasant Grove Director of Public Safety Robert J. Knight, Jr., and has two children: Alex, a student at the University of Montevallo, and Sophia, who attends Hoover High School. Her hobbies include photography, reading, cooking and following her children around as they participate in extracurricular activities.
Jeff W. Maze is one of the founding members of Sovereign CPA Group, LLC. Jeff started his career with Price Waterhouse in 1986 followed by extensive experience at the local CPA firm level before branching off to help form Sovereign. Jeff offers business clients in the Birmingham Area over 25 years experience with a focus on complex income tax matters; corporate and partnership (including multi state), estate and trust, not for profit and individual tax compliance, consulting and planning. He also assists clients with financial and estate planning and elder care family issues.
Jeff is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), AICPA member section for Personal Financial Planning and the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Jeff, a 1983 graduate of the University of Alabama, received his Master of Accounting from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1990. Jeff has also earned his Certificate of Educational Achievement in Tax Planning and Advising for Closely Held Businesses from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, earned his Certificate of Completion from the College for Financial Planning Certified Financial Planner Professional Education Program and completed the Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communications and Human Relations/Skills for Success.
- A&A – Compilation and Review Engagements
- A&A – Personal – Financial Statements
- Tax – Tax Compliance & Tax Consulting
- Tax – Personal – Financial Planning
- Tax – Personal – Estates and Trusts
- Tax – Personal – Elder Care Services & Consulting
- Tax – State and Local