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Heather Mosley | SBJ

2022 Most Influential Women: Kristen Wannenmacher Bright


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Partner. Kristen Wannenmacher Bright will never tire of that word. Earning that position is her proudest professional achievement.

“When I was in college in my accounting classes, that accomplishment seemed impossible and almost unattainable,” says Wannenmacher Bright, partner at FORVIS LLP and southern Missouri team leader for the nonprofit, education and public sector industry.

“The path to partner is hard,” she says of the title she earned in 2018. “And I constantly doubted myself along the way. However, I started the path, and each year I kept going. That path … showed me both good moments and crushing moments. It knocked me down. But each time I got up, and every time I got up, I was stronger. And during that process of ups and downs, it showed me the group of individuals rallying behind me.”

The Drury University graduate joined FORVIS, formerly BKD LLP, in 2005. Wannenmacher Bright provides audit and consulting services for real estate developers with historic and low-income housing tax credit properties and audit services for colleges, universities, utilities and governmental and nonprofit organizations. She has been designated as one of FORVIS’ top single audit reviewers.

Wannenmacher Bright is a graduate of her firm’s Emerging Leaders Academy and is a member of FORVIS Foundation’s review committee for southern Missouri. She also has completed Sky, a FORVIS diversity program.

“I had the privilege to serve on the other side of this mentoring/coaching program and served as a sponsor to a protege during 2020 and 2021. I am the first individual in the firm to have gone through the program as a protege and then through the program again as a sponsor,” Wannenmacher Bright says. “Each and every moment has a lasting impression on me and even though I am serving as a mentor, I also find these moments extremely valuable to my own growth and energy.”

She leads one of the teams for her practice unit but leans into a team-based leadership style where she emphasizes listening.

 “I enjoy the coaching component of leading, and to be a good coach you must be a good advocate. I feel that these characteristics have allowed me to influence the success of my team members,” Wannenmacher Bright says. “I want all of my team members to be rock stars, however they define it.”

In her personal life, she counts parenting her daughter as her greatest life accomplishment, with the kinds of ups, downs and doubts she encountered on her way to partner. Like many mothers, Wannenmacher Bright can find herself pulled between a demanding work life and the needs of her child.

“These work and life experiences have made me extremely passionate about advocating for women,” she says. “I am a firm believer in women helping other women. I want to lift my daughter up and not have her lose that confidence and grit she possesses now.”

Wannenmacher Bright’s civic involvement has included several organizations, including Junior League of Springfield, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks and Make-A-Wish Foundation.


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