In a city like New Orleans, keeping our work and play local is a way of life. Support entrepreneurship and women in business with these five standouts.
Kemberley Washington – Washington CPA Services
Washington CPA Services was founded in 2007 by Kemberley Washington, CPA. Since then, WCPA has helped more than one hundred clients with personal finance strategies, successful representation before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and reducing tax liabilities. In addition, she teaches accounting courses as an adjunct professor.
She completed her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in the area of accounting from Southern University and A&M College. She has also completed her coursework toward her Ph.D. in the area of Personal Financial Planning from Texas Tech.
Washington regularly appears on local newscasts and at industry events to promote her business and offer advice on personal finance. Asked what advice she has for women in business more generally, she explained, “For women seeking to enter into the world of entrepreneurship, I would encourage them to remember their ‘why.’ It is so important to remember why we started in the first place, and where we originally intended to go. Staying true to this can help you to know which opportunities you should say yes to and which ones to move away from.”
Wendy Dolan – Get Online NOLA
Wendy Dolan started Get Online NOLA in 2014 with the mission to help the businesses that keep the New Orleans economy churning. She has worked with big-name clients such as Nike, Dannon, and Dr. Pepper, but loves helping New Orleans business owners develop their brands, and establish a strong online presence. Get Online NOLA offers a range of online and branding strategies catered to the client’s budget and needs.
Dolan emphasizes that while change is going in the right direction, some aspects of business culture still need work. “Being a woman in business is easier than it ever has been before,” she said. “But there are still challenges unique to our gender. Especially in technology fields, women have to work harder to be taken seriously, and are often asked to prove their expertise in situations where a man’s knowledge would be taken for granted.”
To combat those challenges, Dolan recommends prioritizing networking opportunities. “I encourage businesswomen to take full advantage of the educational and networking opportunities available to them. Organizations like the American Business Women’s Association, the Women’s Business Center, and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center have all been crucial to Get Online NOLA’s growth over the years.”
Kathleen Gasparian & Leah Spivey – Gasparian Spivey Immigration
GS Immigration is a partnership between Kathleen Gasparian & Leah Spivey. The pair runs the boutique law firm, which takes a creative and personal approach to immigration law. Services include representation in immigration cases, advocacy, and practical expert advice.
Spivey, reflecting on her chosen specialty within the legal field, explained that immigration law traditionally attracts more women than the legal field generally. “In recent years, immigration law has become increasingly popular as a focus for younger attorneys and law school classes are frequently comprised of majority female graduates or at least equal numbers to men,” she said.
“This is ultimately changing the face of law generally, but also the landscape for women in business in New Orleans.” Spivey urges women to find focus in order to stay in touch with their purpose.
Michelle Craig – Transcendent Legal
Michelle Craig serves as Owner and Chief Litigation and Labor & Employment Counsel for Transcendent Legal, a law firm serving the Gulf South region. With over 12 years of Am200 law firm experience, she was the first African-American female partner in the New Orleans office of Adams and Reese LLP. She holds a Juris Doctorate from the Louisiana State University (LSU) Law Center, and has extensive experience in labor and employment, education law and commercial litigation.
Craig says that while the world of big law firms might be slow to change, she does see more women starting their own firms and businesses, adding that “it’s an exciting time to be in New Orleans.” One major way Transcendent Legal is unique is its commitment to diversity. Asked why diversity is so important in the legal field, Craig said it’s all about difference as a strength. “I may not immediately know the best way to understand the needs of another person, be it a client, a colleague or a community member when they aren’t like me and they don’t share my experiences,” she explained.
“Diversity in the workplace gives you the ability to access different opinions and strategies and makes it more likely that you’ll get a better perspective and ultimately a better outcome for everyone.”
Stefanie Allweiss & Patricia Pannell – Gotcha Covered HR
Gotcha Covered is a human resources consulting firm that specializes in providing businesses with practical and cost-effective solutions to challenges within the workplace. Its co-founders, Stefanie Allweiss and Patricia Pannell, bring more than fifty years of combined experience in employment relations and mediation of workplace issues.
Allweiss is enthusiastic about where the New Orleans business community is going. “Women are feeling more empowered to work for themselves and take ownership of their successes and failures,” she said.
Gotcha Covered HR was founded in 2014 after both partners practiced employment law for years. Pannell describes the venture as a dream come true:
“We believe an HR presence in the workplace, where employees have someone to talk to, will lead to a safer and more inclusive workplace environment.”
Nina Luckman is originally from Philadelphia but has called New Orleans home for close to a decade. A Tulane graduate and a music lover, in her free time she enjoys cycling, reading, and catching music wherever she can.