Women's Resource Group

Women's Resource Group

The mission of our Women's Resource Group (WRG) is to unite and empower the firm’s talented women, leverage business and philanthropic opportunities, provide relevant professional development, and offer internal and external networking programs to help female employees achieve success in the workplace and enhance their overall experience at the firm.

The WRG is focused on four key areas:

Community Engagement

Community Engagement

The community engagement committee creates a supportive, collaborative environment for all of Stout to get involved in local not-for-profit organizations with a mission to provide education, financial assistance, or other support to causes that benefit women and girls in that community.

Internal Networking

Internal Networking

The internal networking and social events committee fosters internal and external relationships that provide mutual support and encouragement to facilitate professional development by providing information and lively events to share ideas, successes, and challenges.

Personal and Business Development

Personal and Business Development

The personal and business development committee helps women achieve personal and professional success by empowering women with resources, tools, experiences, and connections, thereby developing Stout’s professionals individually and the organization at large.

Mentoring

Mentoring

The mentoring committee helps women by promoting, creating, and identifying mentoring relationships whereby women can find valuable guidance to confidently navigate their career at all levels.


Meet the Women of Stout

Select Profiles

Michelle Johnson

Michelle Johnson

Chief Revenue Officer

“We bring this full spectrum of experience to the table for the client. Our culture is the engine for this. We are collaborative, team-oriented, and transparent both internally and externally, which means that clients get the best expertise for their specific needs.”

What are some of the things you like about working at Stout?

Stout’s platform brings tremendous value to our clients because we see transactions from end-to-end. For example, if a company hires us to do a business valuation, they benefit from the fact that we actively help sell similar businesses in the open market, and we also advise companies who are in disputes on valuation matters. We bring this full spectrum of experience to the table for the client.

Our culture is the engine for this. We are collaborative, team-oriented, and transparent both internally and externally, which means that clients get the best expertise for their specific needs.

Chief Revenue Officer is a new position at Stout. What does your role bring to the firm?

A Chief Revenue Officer leads the design and implementation of the firm’s revenue growth strategy. Right now, one of Stout’s biggest growth opportunities is to systematically solve bigger problems and meet more urgent needs for our existing clients. Clients no longer want to work with dozens of advisory firms who each do one thing and know only a little about their business. Instead, they want trusted partners who thoroughly understand their organizations’ core needs and concerns.

My team will align resources, roles, and incentive structures to make sure that people with client relationships bring in the best Stout experts for whatever matter is most pressing for our client. Examples of strategies typically led by a Chief Revenue Officer include:

  1. education on Stout’s capabilities;
  2. enhanced data analytics and reporting to make it easier to map relationships and capabilities; and
  3. design of new policies and account management frameworks to ensure people feel like they’re succeeding individually when they bring the full power of Stout to our clients.

What did you do before working at Stout?

Prior to joining Stout, I spent over 20 years serving multinationals with complex tax valuation matters in a field called transfer pricing. After working for many years as a Managing Director at Duff & Phelps, I found success in developing new services by combining valuation, debt opinions, and transfer pricing experts from different teams to help address new US Treasury regulations affecting our clients. This led to significant new business for my firm and taught me that collaboration across service lines was extremely powerful. This ultimately led me to become the Deputy Chief Revenue Officer of Kroll, a 5,000-person company in 38 countries, which was the position I left to join Stout.

What attracted you to come work for Stout?

We have had nearly 30 years of stunning growth. Once clients work with Stout, it is very likely they’ll stick with us, which is one reason why our Net Promoter Score is consistently over 90+. Because of this foundation of success, there is so much opportunity in front of us. Our new financial sponsor Audax Group brings immense talent and resources to the table, and our vision will only get bigger and more compelling in months ahead.

Personally, the chance to start a new department and be part of a fantastic executive team at a company like Stout was something I just couldn’t pass up.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Family is really important to me. I have weekly date nights with my husband, and we spend a lot of time with our two kids. Over the years, I have picked up quite a few routines unrelated to work. I do Cross-Fit/weight-lifting five times a week, go skiing every year, and try to master one classical piano piece every six months. I recently picked up golf, which means I have many years ahead before I’m any good, so I look forward to an opportunity to work on patience.

I currently serve as president of an organization that I am extremely proud of. Big Careers Little Kids is an organization that unites women in fields of finance, law, and business, and it helps them navigate challenging careers while raising young kids. This organization has been incredibly impactful to me personally and has created many longstanding friendships between accomplished leaders.

What’s a fun fact about you?

My sister and I go on a hiking trip every year in a different National Park. Because of this tradition, we have over a decade of fantastic photos of us standing near cliffs, on top of mountains, or in torrential downpours and have promised each other we’ll be continuing this ritual for a long time to come.


Autumn Spehar

Autumn Spehar

Director, Learning & Transformation

“I enjoy helping people achieve their potential and navigate career growth. My role within the HR team allows for that and affords me the opportunity to work with like-minded HR professionals.”

What are some of the things you like about working in HR department at Stout?

I enjoy helping people achieve their potential and navigate career growth. My role within the HR team allows for that and affords me the opportunity to work with like-minded HR professionals. I especially value our partnerships with Client Service and across the Operations team.

What are some of the main challenges you have faced in your job with the impacts of the pandemic and remote work?

As a member of Stout’s COVID Response Team, it’s been challenging to keep up with the rapidly evolving environment created by the pandemic, but my focus is always on communicating what we can to ensure people feel safe and as informed as possible. I think we’re finding that the challenges of the pandemic have also created opportunity to think differently about how we work, better utilize technology, and implement smart solutions such as Stout’s Work Your Way philosophy.

On my team specifically, the biggest challenge is having new people join the team that, due to the pandemic, I’ve never met in person. I’ve always worked remotely in the sense that I work with people across the firm’s locations, but typically there’s much greater opportunity to spend time live with your direct team. Fortunately, the normalization of Zoom and on-camera meetings has gone a long way in helping get to know new team members.

What are some of your main job duties, and how has your role evolved since you began at Stout?

I started my career at Stout in a very different role than the one I hold today. I’ve been fortunate to grow with the firm, taking on new responsibilities at several points in my career. After earning an advanced degree in Organizational Development, I was happy to return to Stout to begin building a learning function to support the growth and development of our people. Today, I wear a lot of hats, with a continued focus on helping our people achieve their potential and navigate career growth.

What drives you to do a good job?

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I tend to look for the opportunity in any situation, and I think that drives me to give my best.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy learning new things in my free time – it’s a great way to spark new ideas. Pre-COVID, I really enjoyed traveling … but since COVID, it’s been a nice change of pace to enjoy the comforts of home, our elderly mini dachshund, and local “staycations.”

What’s a fun fact about you?

One of my first jobs was as a portrait artist at Cedar Point amusement park.


Terri Sands

Terri Sands

Managing Director

“The great thing about Stout is there is an entrepreneurial spirit. Stout really empowers management to make decisions and encourage entrepreneurship.”

Note: Terry Sands joined our firm following our 2021 acquisition of Secura.

What have you liked about working at Stout so far?

The people and their willingness to assist and provide referrals. Our team also likes the entrepreneur spirit, the ability to empower people to succeed, and the level and detail of transparency and communication through multiple levels of management. It has also been great to have the support of such an amazing IT department.

What led you to found Secura?

I just listened to financial institutions talk about how they struggled with the execution of network rules, regulations, and systems into their daily organizational structure. Smaller financial institutions have limited resources and/or subject matter expertise. Secura was founded to fill the gap and to be a partner rather than simply repeating the rules and regulations in hopes that it will stick on the other side.

What is the main challenge you face moving from Secura’s structure to Stout’s structure?

The great thing about Stout is there is an entrepreneurial spirit. The fear that I had is that our team was so used to being able to make decisions quickly and implement ideas without having to go through a series of justifications and unnecessary documentation. Stout really empowers management to make decisions and encourage entrepreneurship.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Building such an incredible team. We work so well together and truly want to see each other succeed.

What’s a major trend in your practice area that you’re keeping your eye on in 2022?

Outsourcing needs are becoming even more popular based on significant changes in the payments, BSA/AML, and fraud space. Resources continue to get more expensive, and smaller financial institutions and payments companies will find it more difficult to pay for the type of expertise needed.

What’s a lesson you’re thankful you learned early on in your career?

Every day is an interview.

Who is a person that impacted you significantly, either professionally or personally?

My dad, who passed away nine years ago. He was an entrepreneur that owned several successful car dealerships in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. He started washing cars at an early age at a car dealership and worked his way up. He eventually went to influential individuals in Asheville, NC, to raise enough money and get the appropriate approval backing to buy a Toyota franchise. When I wanted his opinion on starting my own business, he asked if I was scared. I said yes and he told me that I was ready.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to just walk for miles and relax. I also enjoy watching old, cheesy ‘80s movies.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I used to work at GAP in high school, and I still have OCD about how clothes are folded. All of my closets look like the nicest retail stores, and my friends mock me.

Meet More of the Women at Stout


Facts and Figures

An important part of building a workforce that reflects the clients and communities we serve is being more transparent about our progress. The below data point shows how we are progressing against diversity goals. While it is clear there is much more to do, this increased transparency will build greater trust and accountability, and ensure our diversity journey continues to proceed with purpose and speed.

Firmwide Demographics

2013 24% female gender 2021 30% female gender

Supporting Our Women

Women in Business Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to qualified female leaders who embody Stout’s core values and ambitions. The purpose of the scholarship is to provide financial support to help students succeed in their pursuit of a business-related career. Twenty-eight students have received Stout’s Women in Business Scholarships since the program’s inception in 2013. In 2022, Stout doubled its investment in this program, awarding $12,000 in scholarships to upcoming female leaders.

Learn More


Awards and Recognition