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2012 40 Under 40 Honoree: Gary Schafer

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Through his role as a partner with a national accounting firm or in leadership positions in community groups, Gary Schafer is able to serve and influence others.

Schafer, a certified public accountant, is one of roughly 250 partners at BKD LLP, which he joined in 2007. The firm has 30 offices in 12 states and roughly $400 million in fiscal 2011 revenues.

Shafer coordinates the commercial audit practice for BKD’s Springfield, Joplin and Branson offices, is a leader of the BKD National Marketing & Distribution Group and serves as team leader of the firm’s Southern Missouri Manufacturing Group.

“Several of my clients worked through significant changes in their businesses during the past year – growing pains or unique opportunities to achieve their business objectives through significant transactions,” Schafer says. “Being in the position to apply my technical skills to serve as a trusted business adviser … was very gratifying.”

Schafer counts it a privilege that he is able to help other young professionals at BKD achieve their career goals.

“One way I can do this is by creating opportunities for them to step up and take on additional responsibilities and leadership roles,” says Schafer, who has served as an instructor in BKD’s internal training programs and assisted with the development of technical course materials.

Another way he has bolstered others professionally was through serving as the first board chairman for The Network, a Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce program for young professionals. He also served as an inaugural board member for Springfield Metro Rotary Club, helping to lead the visioning and strategic planning process for the new chapter.

“I believe our … efforts will have a significant beneficial impact on the long-term success of that very service-oriented group,” he says.

Schafer has served on the board of the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks and through his church, Schweitzer United Methodist, Schafer helped establish to raise money for digging drinking water wells in Africa.

For six years, he has served in various roles on the board of the American Red Cross Southern Missouri Region and was chairman in 2011, when the organization responded to the tornado that ravaged Joplin. Though he is proud of many of his community efforts, Schafer says his work with Red Cross in the aftermath of the tornadoes and floods that hit southwest Missouri in spring 2011 has been the most significant.

“It was utterly humbling to see the life-saving and live-changing work the volunteers of the Red Cross did in the minutes, hours, days and weeks following those disasters,” he says.

Click here for full coverage of the 2012 40 Under 40.

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