The Leaders of Team ML&R

Strong leaders are essential for all seasons of life – not only to offer guidance during difficult times, but to ensure the good times endure.  At Maxwell Locke & Ritter, we empower our people to play to their strengths, find their voice, be innovative, and lead. Leadership isn’t limited to our partner group. As Tax Partner Mike Hoover says, “Everyone at the firm is a leader. It’s in our culture.”

Here’s what our people have to say about leaders in our firm:

David Knippa, Audit

David has a strong work ethic, a great personality and sharp technical skills.Kyle Parks

Jennifer Frazier, Support

Jennifer is a true leader.  Although her role is not client facing, the ML&R tax practice could not succeed without her. She continually looks for ways to improve our processes and support our team by being timely, caring and proactive. Everyone who has the pleasure of working with Jennifer knows she can always be relied upon to do any task with consideration and respect. Laura Willard

Erin McKay, Audit

Erin was extremely helpful my first few weeks at ML&R. She took time to explain procedures and provided examples of how to navigate being new to ML&R. She is easy to talk to and made me feel comfortable in this new setting.Lauren Lemke

Kyle Parks, Tax

Kyle leads by facilitating engagement, not by dictating his own personal views. – Steve Harvey

Kevin Gilmartin, Audit

I asked Kevin a lot of questions when I first started with ML&R and he always took time to answer my questions and coach me.Rachel Lee

Emily Chauvin, Tax

Emily Chauvin is extremely gracious with her time and willing to teach. She always has a positive attitude and has made me feel welcome and valuable to the ML&R team!Cody Anderson

Meg Youngblood, Audit

Meg genuinely cares for everybody. She is interested in your life and makes every effort to make you feel part of the team. – Saad Syed

Oh, let me count the ways I respect and admire Meg. No matter what is going on, she always makes time for me. Whether a fun chat about life, a serious problem, an emotional day or just a random 30 second dance party, she always takes time to focus and hear me. She is amazing!Chandler Raymond

Since day one, Meg has been the person I see as a true leader of the firm. She provides encouragement, both professionally and personally. She is a caring human being, extremely empathetic and a true joy to be around. I’m proud to call her my friend.Jill Lewis

Meg’s focus on our people is critical to our ability to maintain a strong team. She is empathetic to the needs of our team members and is focused on ensuring we maintain work-life balance, while meeting the needs of our clients.Lesley Hargraves

As lead audit partner, Meg deals with a lot of different personalities, scheduling conflicts, and people matters. She is always calm and collected and thus, really gets her team’s respect and top performance. A.J. Zimmerhanzel

I don’t know how she does it, but I admire Meg’s ability to have a personal relationship with everyone in the department. Kevin Gilmartin

Meg is the glue that keeps us together.Rob Repass

Staci Sprayberry, Support

Staci embodies what ML&R is all about. She is friendly and welcoming, always has a smile on her face and truly cares about ML&R employees and clients.Brandon Lamb

Steven Knebel, Tax

Steve has always served as a sounding board and has provided me wisdom and levity.  He helps me see the big picture so I can consider things a different way.Todd Miller

Steven Knebel has been a great mentor and sounding board for me since I joined ML&R over 20 years ago.Sean Holcomb

Steven Knebel exudes goodness, kindness, and experience. He’s a great leader because he’s easy to trust and believe in. He’s motivating! – Holly Helin

Steve Knebel is a great leader. His biggest asset is his history with the firm. Because he has seen our story unfold, he graciously provides pieces of wisdom when I need them.Emily Chauvin

R.J. Salome, Audit

R.J. is a leader in our audit practice. He is a go-to technical person and is always willing to help with any engagement.Michelle Kopplow

R.J. has strong technical knowledge and is always ready to help. I have never seen R.J. panic or get frustrated. He encourages me to work on new areas and challenging tasks. – Shehnaaz Vejlani

R.J. knows pretty much everything. He’s super patient and great at training. – Kathryn Leins

R.J. leads by example and always wants to help our people and clients. He has a great attitude and is very smart. – James Rinn

R.J. has strong technical skills, is very involved in the firm, and is always approachable. – Brandon Bernstrom

R.J. makes sure that everyone is doing alright. When I first joined ML&R, he went out of his way to include me in firm activities and was a resource for my questions. I really appreciate how welcoming he has been. – Cody Redmond

R.J. has been beyond helpful with all my questions.Parker Watkins

A.J. Zimmerhanzel, Audit

A.J. is a true servant leader who leads by example. He doesn’t ask anyone to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. He truly cares, not only about the success of the firm, but also the success of our people. He ALWAYS has a smile on his face and finds the positive in things. – Diana Mil

A.J has an incredible memory for detail and is always in a great mood!  He never fails to answer a question or even step in to perform fieldwork.  I admire his technical ability and his positive spirit. Brianna Landry

I look up to A.J. and the way he treats his clients. – Lee Benedict

Sarah Espinoza, Tax

Sarah has taken on some big projects, from revamping training to championing new technology. She is always willing to teach, help and bring positive energy to the team!Laura Turner

Mike Hoover, Tax

Mike’s technical ability, empathy and overall positive disposition, no matter how tough the client situation, make him a great leader. He is genuine and is always willing to listen and offer help.Sandra Ou

Mike is a leader because of his superb technical abilities.  Dana McCartney

Sara Maxwell, Audit

Sara always goes above and beyond to make me feel uniquely appreciated at ML&R.  Every time we work together, I learn something new. She is always patient and eager to teach even the most complex areas of accounting. She is a big motivator and a role model for me and my career.Tara Holman

Sara always improves our processes so we can be efficient and provide the highest quality service to our clients. She is one of the most technical people I know and most importantly, she’s been a great mentor and friend to me. – R.J. Salome

James Rinn, Support

James is a great leader of the firm due to his experience.  He has all the qualities of a leader.Shehnaaz Vejlani

Lesley Hargraves, Audit

Lesley has the perfect mix of intelligence and compassion. Meg Youngblood

Lesley is a great leader. She is smart, personable and rolls her sleeves up with the team to get things done.Lathrop Smith

Lesley is incredibly open, supportive and 10 out of 10 in technical ability, client service and people management.David Knippa

Doris Ayala, Tax

Doris is a firm leader. She is always approachable for questions, whether they be technical or random. She always has a good attitude and makes decisions that would benefit the firm, not just herself.Blaine Martin

Doris is a leader at ML&R. She succeeds in all aspects of this job and has an amazing work-life balance. She provides the best client service possible and is always willing to help if you are in a bind. Sarah Racanelli Carter

Tara Holman, Audit

Tara is extremely smart and charismatic. She possesses the patience of a saint, which is always a plus in this industry. She is a joy to work with and seems to handle all the curves thrown at her. – Taja Williams

Dana McCartney, Tax

Dana has great technical knowledge and is always willing to take the time to explain. She is also a caring person and takes an interest in others as people and helps them develop professionally.Heather Beliveau

Dana is a leader and role model in the firm. She is extremely knowledgeable in the high net-worth individual tax and estate planning niche area. She is always very helpful regardless of how busy she is. I’m very grateful for her support and mentorship.Elaine Xu

Dana relates to the day-to-day struggles of being an associate and is empathetic and often steps in to help out!Manjari Desai

Sarah Taylor, Support

Sarah is our resident energizer bunny!Vanessa McElwrath

Sarah is the person you want in your corner. She is inviting, fun and organized. She can mix business with pleasure while still being professional. You can learn a lot from her, and she has a lot to give. She is passionate about ML&R and our vision.Jenel Garoutte


Interested in working with the leaders of Team ML&R and maximizing your personal leadership potential? Check out our careers page to learn about opportunities at Maxwell Locke & Ritter.

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