This award is given to an individual for outstanding contributions to the accounting profession and this year’s honoree is Stacy Stelzriede. Paying it forward is essential to advancing women in accounting. Stacy is an audit partner at Moss Adams LLP and she has made it her mission to do just that: she’s devoted her career to mentoring other women and helping them achieve the success she’s earned at work and in life. Stacy’s path into the partnership wasn’t typical, and her unique story has helped other women understand that they too can find their own path to success.

Growing up in a single-parent home from an early age, Stacy witnessed the importance of self-reliance on a daily basis. She knew in order to succeed, make a good living, and become self-reliant, she’d need to go to college. While working 30–40 hours a week, Stacy attended community college to explore her career options. After earning an A in an elective accounting course, realizing that accounting clicked for her, she decided to switch her major from information technology to accounting.

Welter-and-StelzriedeStacy spent nineteen years with KPMG, during which time she experienced a variety of successes and challenges that contributed to her unique path to partner. As Stacy puts it, “It wasn’t a straight line up—it was more like a jungle gym.” Stacy was promoted to manager after four years with the firm. Three weeks following her promotion, she had her first child, and three years later had her second. She worked a variety of reduced schedules. She had to pass on a few opportunities, and while she recognized these decisions would slow her path to partner, they allowed her to manage her career while avoiding the feeling she was sacrificing her family for it. She never doubted she’d make partner, but accepted it might take longer than her male counterparts or other colleagues who were willing to make partnership their sole mission. And ten years after becoming a manager, Stacy took her place as a partner.

Stacy joined Moss Adams as a business assurance partner in 2010.  Since then she has successfully built a full practice and is now the office’s Health Care Practice Leader. As a keen advocate for mentoring and people development, Stacy is a member of the firm’s Forum W Advisory Board. Forum W is the firm’s effort to attract, develop, retain and advance talented women. In this role, she’s a strategic thought leader at a firm-wide level. Stacy recognizes that though half of those hired by Moss Adams are women, 24 percent of the firm’s partners are women—and she’s taken it as a personal challenge to coach, mentor, and influence as actively as she can to improve this figure. Stacy is proud to say she’s a partner in an office with one of the highest percentages of female partners at the firm, at 40 percent. Stacy played an integral part in developing and facilitating an ongoing firm-wide workshop to openly address the concept of “future tripping”— which is the tendency to make premature decisions about your career based on perceptions of how your personal and professional life might unfold—for women with three to six years of experience. The workshop engages participants in honest dialogue about the highs and lows experienced at each level in public accounting, how to advance their careers, the value of a long-term career with the firm, work–life integration, and what “having it all” really means.

Stacy is a great example of a leader who gives back externally. She leverages her unique background as an executive board member with organizations and distinguished speaker to help those outside her firm too.  Congratulations from AWSCPA to the 2014 Woman CPA of the Year Award recipient, Stacy Stelzriede of Moss Adams.