As a Director within Cherry Bekaert’s Tax practice, Debbie is responsible for all aspects of tax planning and compliance services for corporate, partnership and individual clients. In particular, she offers tax planning services for closely held businesses while leveraging her expertise in areas such as capital and financing alternatives, acquisitions and dispositions of businesses, and depreciation methods. Located in the Firm’s Greenville office, Debbie also assists with the preparation of federal and state tax returns, and guides on issues related to state taxes for flow-through entities.
With over 30 years of tax experience, Debbie spent more than 20 years at large regional firms and six years at Big Four firms. Additionally, she has conducted seminars for clients and local organizations on various tax issues, from real estate development to financial planning for women. Before arriving at Cherry Bekaert, Debbie was a senior tax manager and member of the real estate group at a Top 50 CPA firm.
1. How did being president of CREW Upstate impact you?
CREW offered an opportunity for me to develop long lasting friendships on both a personal and a professional level. It was the first time I’d worked with successful professional women who were outside my profession or client base. It was exciting to learn from these competent women and to see the impact we could make in the community.
2. What was one major achievement/accomplishment that occurred during your presidential year?
Many team members had multiple roles. My main concern was to keep the momentum going. Maurie had done such a great job getting us up and running and I didn’t want to lose that. We wanted to reach 50 members – which I believe we did. We wanted to provide the members with opportunities to create business so CREW Chats was a push. We looked at ways to delegate administrative functions so our officers could focus on their goals. We found this to be cost prohibitive even with benefits offered by National. We also pushed the committee chairs to formalize playbooks. We found it difficult (as we transitioned officers) to maintain the knowledge base of the founding members who scaled back a little in participation. We did a member survey to look for ways to improve offerings…this may have been in the Fall before we took office in January. We hosted a Transportation Summit which was a success. This was a key topic that had surfaced in the Chamber during that time. The most amazing thing I remember is walking into real estate events in Greenville and seeing the increase in women participation every year after formation. I believe CREW played is significant role in this influx of women attending these events.
3. How would you like to see CREW Upstate evolve in the next 5-10 years?
I would CREW Upstate to continue to increase awareness of CREW in the community, perhaps through expansion of our CREW Awards event. I would also like to see CREW Upstate establish a program to introduce young people to the possibilities of commercial real estate which I believe our new CREW Outreach Committee will develop. Along those lines, it would be great to establish a mentoring program for young professionals as well.
4. If you were to sum up your CREW Upstate presidential year in one word, what would it be?
5. Where are you now?
I’ve recently retired from Cherry Bekaert after 34 years in the profession. CREW gave me opportunities to grow and mentor women. I hope I have had an impact on those I’ve met and assisted with both career and personal development.