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2018 Most Influential Women: Rhonda Christopher

BKD LLP

Posted online

Playing the role of mentor is something Rhonda Christopher takes seriously.

“Success is measured differently for each person, so it’s vital to truly understand an individual’s personal goals,” Christopher says. “I work to position myself not just as a mentor, but also as a sponsor, working to push the individuals on to achieve their dreams.”

Christopher began her career at accounting firm BKD LLP in 1985 managing audit and consulting services for colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, retail businesses and employee benefit plans.

After a nine-year hiatus to raise her family and another three-year stint at BKD, she made the change to director of BKD Wealth Advisors LLC in early 2010.

In that role, Christopher provides financial and estate planning services to high-net-worth families through coordination of investment management with tax, retirement, financial education and estate planning.

“In addition to her deep professional expertise that has created significant value and peace of mind for our clients, Rhonda has recently been working actively to create positive change within BKD,” says Gary Schafer, the firm’s managing partner. “She is passionate and dedicated in achieving her goals and is a tremendous asset to our firm and our community.”

Over her 20 years in wealth management, audit and consulting work, Christopher’s proudest professional accomplishment is her involvement in the BKD SKY initiative.

“SKY is a firmwide initiative to emphasize and strengthen diversity in our firm, initially focusing on attracting, retaining and developing women leaders at BKD,” she says.

The goal of the initiative is to identify and remove cultural barriers and biases to maximize employee potential.

“I am privileged to be a founding member of our firm’s 16-member advisory council, tasked with developing and providing ongoing strategic direction for BKD’s SKY initiative,” Christopher says.

She also serves on the local BKD Foundation advisory committee and as a SKY Champion for BKD offices in Springfield, Branson and Joplin.

“I have been involved with mentoring our personnel through formal education sessions, focused training for the partners and managing directors, informal mentoring sessions and events,” says Christopher, who earned a bachelor’s in accounting from Missouri State University.

In the community, Christopher currently serves as treasurer for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Board of Directors, as well as a member of its executive committee.

She also is involved with Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, United Way of the Ozarks and John Wayne Cancer Institute.

Christopher is a graduate of Leadership Springfield Class XI and has previously served on its board and as treasurer for The Library Foundation.

“Through my community involvement, I leverage my work and life experiences to help organizations fulfill their missions,” she says.

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