Silver Legacy CFO reaches new goals in her job and life

Just because people in the accounting and finance field like numbers, order and details, that doesn't mean they are chained to their calculators.

Just ask Stephanie Lepori.

"The fun reality is you actually get to be involved in all aspects. You get to give your input in different areas of the business. You can stay at your desk or you can go and do and business plans, and get involved in other ways," she says.

Lepori is the chief financial officer of the Silver Legacy Resort Casino. She's held the position since 2006, but she's been with the Silver Legacy since it opened in 1995. Her first job was as controller, and she made her way up the ranks to her current job.

But as fate would often have it, it's not what she set out to do as a student.

A Reed High graduate, Lepori headed to the University of Southern California. Like many kids, getting out of her hometown was a dream after high school.

With a faint goal of pursuing advertising as a course of study, Lepori soon found herself encouraged to focus on the school's accounting program.

"No one was getting jobs at that time. This professor said, 'You have to do this,' and I knew I'd get a job with that degree. Plus the program was looking to diversify, find people with personalities," she says, with a smile.

After getting her degree, she found a job in the Los Angeles area with the accounting giant Arthur Andersen. While she loved the area, the starting salary for a staff accountant wasn't enough to support the Southern California cost of living. When she heard the company's Las Vegas office was looking for people, she headed there.

Lepori found herself immersed in the world of casino audits, as many gaming establishments were clients of the accounting firm. Gaming was also starting to grow outside Nevada, so she found herself traveling all over the country. Circus Circus was also a client, and through that relationship she heard about a new casino being built in Reno.

"When I left Reno, I never thought I'd come back," she remembers. "I probably would have stayed in Las Vegas, but my husband wanted to come back to Reno and we were thinking about having kids at that point so it was a good idea. Plus, it was a great way to transition from public accounting to private," she says.

Fast-forward 15 years. She now has three daughters, ages 12, 9 and 5, and while she's no longer married, she and her ex-husband have a solid relationship. The girls are active in soccer and basketball, and her youngest takes ballet and like most single parents, Lepori feels lucky for the support she gets.

"My ex-husband and I are a really good parenting team, and his family is great. Plus I have great friends, my Mom is here ... It really does take a village," she says.

And while she acknowledges there were certain aspects of living in a bigger city that she enjoyed, she's made the choice for the quality over quantity of experience. One of her biggest joys is the outdoor lifestyle, something she's come to embrace more since moving back. Not only do she and her girls love to ski, but she's an avid runner also and has completed the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey three times.

"It's like childbirth; you always say 'never again,' but then you forget the pain and do it all over!" she says of the 178-mile team race. She's also completed a number of half marathons and learned to scuba dive this year in Maui.

"I'm not a huge risk-taker; that side of the accounting personality is typical for me. But I like coming up with new challenges to keep motivated," she says.

Finding challenges at her job hasn't been a problem lately, thanks to the economy. But as always, Lepori works hard to find the good in a seemingly all-bad situation.

"In this economy, it's hard always being the messenger of not great news. It's been a challenge but we've had to buckle down and work together as a team. And that's a good side to all this," she says.

Lepori also works for the good side as a volunteer at Step 2, a treatment program that focuses on women and their children. She's also a board member for the Nevada Women's Fund. Helping those less fortunate, especially women and children, is a special cause for Lepori, who often thought of teaching or working in a nonprofit as a career path.

"So many kids don't have the opportunities they should. I always had what I needed. So I'm just trying to be involved, and make an impact some where," she says.

She also plans on making an impact at her 40th birthday this year. She has a core group of friends and many are turning 40, so each birthday girl chooses something to commemorate her big day.

Lepori says they've run a half marathon for one friend, and another was celebrated by a big ski weekend and seeing MC Hammer at Lake Tahoe. And what will Lepori do on her birthday?

She's not sure yet, but for certain, it'll be a challenge she'll conquer in no time.

The challenge-seeker

Who: Stephanie Lepori

What: Chief financial officer

Silver Legacy

Family: Three daughters, ages 12,

9 and 5

She says: "I always want to take

it to the next level."


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