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Shining a spotlight on women leaders

STAR recognizes women leaders during Women’s History Month


Each year in March—Women’s History Month—RSM’s STAR employee network group shines a spotlight on exceptional women in the firm through the STAR awards. Fellow STAR members and RSM owners nominated nearly 70 women across the firm for this year’s partner award, internal client server award or rising star award.

Congratulations to the six 2019 STAR award winners! Meet each of our winners below and read about the impact mentors and sponsors have had on their careers and their advice for building a successful career at RSM:

STAR Partner Award Winner

JuliAn Coy
West Region NetSuite Practice Leader & Pacific Northwest TMC Leader, Seattle

As a woman, what unique challenges have you encountered in your career and how have you addressed them?

I’ve been fortunate always having fantastic mentors, both male and female, so I’ve always felt supported and willing to conquer any challenges head on. Most people stop at “no,” that’s typically when I get started.

STAR Internal Client Server Award Winner

Connie Smith Benning
Central Region Marketing Director, Davenport, Iowa

What advice would you share with someone starting her career at RSM?

I would encourage women to seek every opportunity to learn and gain experience in a wide variety of areas. This is especially important early in your career. Don’t focus on your title and the next promotion. These things will come when you demonstrate a higher level of experience and thinking. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be an advocate for yourself when opportunities arise. It will simply position you to better take advantage of opportunities when they become available.

I would also encourage younger professionals to speak up and share your ideas. If you have confidence in your skills and experience, you don’t have to be afraid to speak up.

STAR Rising Star Award Winners

Becca Costello 
Tax Supervisor, McLean, Virginia

How has a mentor or sponsor helped your career?

Having a trusted mentor has single handedly had the biggest impact on my career thus far. Since the beginning, she has always taken the time to provide advice, support, expertise and most importantly, candid feedback. Honest feedback is not always easy to give or receive, but by doing so, it has built a strong foundation of trust. She has also been a great example as to the path RSM has for women and working mothers as well as an excellent mentor. I would not be where I am today without my mentor and because of the huge role she has played in my career, it has inspired me to do the same for others.

Rachel Rabinowitz 
Audit Manager, New York City

As a woman, what unique challenges have you encountered in your career and how have you addressed them?

As a woman, the biggest challenge I have faced is the internal pressure to be the best at all that I do - at work and at home - while not always having the means or the time to perfect every aspect of my life. As a new parent, I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy – am I being the best mom and wife I can be, and at the same time, am I focusing enough efforts on my career and professional goals? I think that having a strong support system in your life, both at home and at work, is critical. Find those who will listen to you, challenge you and also keep you grounded when you can’t see the forest through the trees. Sometimes all you need is a little perspective!

Jessica Leiferman
Transaction Advisory Services Manager, Chicago

What advice would you share with someone starting her career at RSM?

Know your worth, and never forget that you will always be your own biggest advocate. But also have the wisdom to know you can’t do it alone. Seek out a mentor, and seize every opportunity for feedback and development. If others see that you’re invested in yourself, they’ll be more willing to invest in you too. Remember that we all have strengths and weaknesses – as hard as it can be, understanding and acknowledging those is one of the best catalysts for growth. Most importantly, be intentional in how you treat others.

Chappell Wilson
Consulting Director, McLean, Virginia

How has a mentor or sponsor helped your career? 

I have always believed that mentorship is the key to a successful career. A new employee can arrive with a resume replete with academic and professional successes but can still fail miserably without someone to guide her or him through the maze that can be today’s dynamic, fast-paced and multi-faceted organizations. My mentors have helped me to understand my business environment and to navigate it effectively. My mentors have served as a sounding board in arriving at the best solutions for multiple parties with multiple problems. My mentors have inspired me to dig deeper and stretch further when my perspective has been far too myopic. Simply put, I would not be the person and professional I am today without those generous people, my mentors, who gave of themselves so that I could be better. It is something I try to pay forward in my career every day.



STAR advocates for women in the workplace with a focus on stewardship, teamwork, advancement and retention opportunities.