Alumni, faculty, students and friends gathered in person once again to celebrate the latest inductees into the CSU Accounting Department Hall of Fame.
They were recognized during a ceremony at the Lory Student Center on April 26.
Learn more about the four inductees below.
Roger Sample, retired co-founder of Sample & Bailey CPAs, PC (class of 1975)
When you talk to Roger Sample about his decades-long accounting career, it’s less about the work and more about the people he met along the way.
“My wife and I were recently in Maui, and we had lunch with clients and friends multiple times – and I met all of them through being a CPA,” he said. “And now, even though I’m retired, these friends are continuing and are strong 40 years later.”
Sample grew up in Fort Collins, and was able to live with his parents while he completed his accounting degree at CSU.
He said he had an aptitude for numbers at a young age, but there was another factor that also drew him to accounting.
“There was a manager who explained to me early in my career that public accounting is half accounting, which is the skill and ability to process numbers, and half dealing with people,” Sample said. “Helping people is what I really enjoy doing.”
That’s how he and his fellow shareholders helped grow Sample & Bailey into the largest firm in Northern Colorado. Some of the shareholders who were instrumental to the success included John Bailey, Steve Collins, Jerry Megilligan, Steve Gardner and Denise Juliana.
Along the way, he made sure to hire CSU accounting students for jobs and internships, and has maintained an active presence in the Fort Collins community by serving on the boards of multiple local companies and nonprofits.
“I’m proud of our firm because we were able to work well with clients; our goal was to serve them, and our mission was to provide the highest level of professional services in Northern Colorado,” Sample said. “I’m proud of our team members, our shareholders, and everyone who was involved.”
He’s now retired, but continues to serve on multiple boards and is involved in a Bible study fellowship. Since he’s a former accountant after all, he kept track of the numbers and can tell you that his wife Susie played 180 rounds of golf and he biked 2,200 miles around Fort Collins last year.
He and Susie’s son, Lance, and daughter-in-law, Melissa, both got their accounting degrees at CSU, and still live in Northern Colorado, as does their daughter, Brandi, and son-in-law, Devon – which means Sample gets to regularly spend time with his seven grandsons.
One of them will become the third generation of his family to attend CSU this fall.
Lisa Hackard, partner-audit at KPMG (class of 1997)
Lisa Hackard’s advice for future accountants? Have a diverse set of interests.
“Take a few classes in subjects outside your degree program, whether it’s photography, weight-lifting, piano, the history of the Vietnam War, whatever it is, meet people who see the world in a different way than you do,” she said. “Those subjects and those people will make you a better accountant.”
Hackard stays true to her own advice. In addition to her key role at KPMG, she’s competed in marathons across the country, and also leads a mental health initiative at her company that helps her colleagues learn about stress management and resiliency through various popular workshops.
“We’re accountants, not mental health professionals, but we can learn the vocabulary and develop the courage and confidence to have those important conversations,” she said.
Hackard said she was drawn to accounting because she likes numbers and solving puzzles, but in high school, she desperately wanted to be a surgeon … until she witnessed firsthand what that actually entails.
“I observed a surgeon and it did not go well. I saw the blood and actually passed out in the operating room,” she said. “So, I went and sat with the accountants instead, and realized there’s no blood in accounting.”
Hackard was the first person in her family to go to college, and said CSU was the welcoming place she needed to develop the skills she’d use throughout her career.
“As soon as I set foot on campus, I was inspired by the number of people who truly, truly wanted to help me keep learning and growing, to be the person I wanted to be,” she said.
She has returned to CSU to mentor future accounting students as part of the Global Leadership Council.
Hackard said she loves learning from the next generation of her profession’s leaders, and said she hopes they each continue to personify the tenet of Business for a Better World.
“I hope these students stay curious and learn how to love learning, because the game’s not over when you get that diploma,” she said. “There’s only 24 hours in each day. Think about how that’s making you better, making your community better and making your profession better.”
Early Career Award
Alexandria Romero, chief financial officer at the Pueblo City-County Library District (class of 2006)
Romero’s career isn’t just about finance: It’s about making a tangible difference in the place where she grew up.
“I can directly see the impact that this work is having not just on those who are participating one-on-one with the library, but in the community as a whole,” Romero said.
One example of this is the Reading Pays program, where students received $100 if they read 10 books and completed various activities. The money came in the form of a voucher that children could either cash or use to establish bank accounts, and Romero said the program was unlike anything else ever done before in the country.
“It was amazing to see the children when they received that money, and all the different things they did with it,” Romero said.
Romero said it was a dream come true for her career to take her back to Pueblo. She knew she wanted to study accounting during her sophomore year of high school, and that brought her to the CSU College of Business.
“One of the things I liked was that with accounting, you have a clear path, and it’s one of those fields that’s clearly desirable,” she said.
Her advice to future students is to also consider a CPA because of the wealth of opportunities it provides.
“CPAs are highly desirable, and that pipeline is getting smaller and smaller,” she said. “It also isn’t just one path, you can do so many different things.”
Margarita Lenk, professor emeritus at Colorado State University
Lenk’s son did the math, and roughly 60,000 CSU students have taken at least one of her classes during her 30 years at the University. She’s taught at least seven of her students’ own children, and personified the mission of Business for a Better World by using real-world examples from nonprofits in the classroom.
“I wanted to develop our students as leaders, both professionally and academically,” Lenk said. “After all, the CSU brand in our region and around the world is really about the strength of the students we teach.”
Lenk was first hired at CSU in 1990, and came from the University of South Carolina, where she worked as a CMA cost accountant in a factory to help pay for graduate school. She’s also worked as a service-learning consultant, worked with dozens of nonprofits across Colorado, mentored diverse students, chaired the Honors Advisory committee, served as the faculty representative to the CSU Board of Governors and started CSU’s eSports team.
Decades of teaching and real-world accounting experience has given Lenk countless stories to tell (one example is the time she watched a man wanted for financial crimes escape from law enforcement in a helicopter), but the theme of most of them is what she’s gained watching her students grow.
“I miss the CSU students every day,” she said.
Her students have similarly fond memories. Lenk taught fellow 2022 Accounting Hall of Fame inductee Lisa Hackard during her time at CSU, and they still stay in touch.
“Margarita was so challenging as my professor, and she pushed me very, very hard,” Hackard said. “But, I am forever grateful for the fact that she saw those things in me and pushed me past my comfort zone to develop those skills.”
In addition to pushing students to be better at the technical aspects of their jobs, Hackard said Lenk fostered a sense of responsibility about her own personal values and to use her profession to make the world a better place.
This was one of Lenk’s goals with all her students.
She has an example where, in one of her classes, she required students to do volunteer work with a local nonprofit. One of them seriously resisted, and she placed him with the food bank. That’s where he claimed that the bags of rice he had been packing kept getting stolen – until he realized what was actually happening was they were being distributed to people in need.
“That’s when he realized the scale of hunger in Larimer County, and why this work was so important,” Lenk said. “He already had everything inside him to make a difference.”
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