At our annual State of the Firm staff meeting, current President Jennifer Hughes announced that she will be ‘passing the baton,’ as she described it, to Director Chris Ward, as part of a planned rotation in leadership roles. Chris, age 42, will officially become the firm’s new President effective April 30, 2015, as DMLO prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary as a ‘Louisville original.’
“Guiding the firm through the last five years has been both enriching and enlightening,” said Jennifer. “There were invigorating highlights as well as unforeseen challenges, and I have grown immensely as a leader and as an individual as a result. I am so pleased that Chris is ready to step up and embrace this role and continue the vision. His enormous talent, energy, and drive, together with his experience, wisdom and respect as a leader at the firm, will without doubt help us achieve the important goals we have set for the firm.”
Much was accomplished during Jennifer’s term as President, including the successful retirement of a second generation of partners, formalization of the firm’s vision and strategic plan, joining a global association of accounting firms (BKR International), the acquisition of a local tax and accounting practice, and consistent growth in the midst of a recession, including the addition of five new partners. She oversaw substantial investment in state-of-the-art technology and training, the launch of a new website, and a complete renovation of the 11th floor of the ‘flashcube’ building at Hurstbourne and Shelbyville Rd. DMLO became a Private 100 Top Investor and High Impact Company with GLI, and was recognized repeatedly for its exemplary workplace environment and practices with the prestigious national When Work Works award, based primarily on the results of an independent survey of employees.
Jennifer will continue to work with Chris and the leadership team to implement firm strategy and initiatives, in addition to devoting more time to one of the things she enjoys most – working directly with clients in the firm’s long-term care and not-for-profit niches. She also plays a vital role in our community and our profession, serving on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer for both Greater Louisville Inc. and Leadership Louisville, on the Executive Board of the Lincoln Heritage Council/BSA, and on the boards of the Kentucky Society of CPAs (KyCPA) and KyCPA Foundation, to name just a few.
In a similar path to Jennifer’s, Chris began his accounting career at the firm, and has been a Director since 2007. He has served on the firm’s Executive Committee since its formation. He was chosen for Business First’s Forty Under 40 in 2011.
Key initiatives Chris will focus on as he takes the helm will be the continued development of the firm’s specialty niche groups, and ongoing growth both organic, and via the targeted acquisition of smaller practices whose owners are approaching retirement and want to ensure that their clients continue to receive the highest standard of service and quality of relationship.
“I am honored to have the votes of confidence and trust from my partners here as the baton is passed. Our founding partners built something of incredible value, and we are so fortunate to carry on their impressive legacy. We have reached a very significant chapter in our story—and I look forward to continuing DMLO’s transformation into the most relevant accounting firm in the region,” said Chris.