As a female partner in the traditionally male-dominated accounting industry, Michele Lazzara has proven herself to possess the determination and skills necessary to succeed at the highest levels of her profession and to become a trusted advisor, helping her clients achieve financial prosperity. Lazzara, a leader of the Private Client Services Group in the Purchase office of Marks Paneth, has helped many in Westchester’s business community with strategic tax planning. Previously, she was the partner-in-charge at the Westchester office of a different accounting firm, where she worked for 16 years.
Lazzara focuses on tax and wealth-transfer strategies for family businesses and high-net-worth individuals. A leader in both her profession and the community, she is past president of both the Westchester Estate Planning Council and the Westchester Chapter of the New York State Society of CPAs. She is also a founding member of WOW Connect, a group of successful female business executives who advocate and provide trusted resources for one another. “It is very important for women to have role models,” she says. “We need to learn from and support each other.”
Among her proudest duties, though, is working with the LEADS (Leadership, Empowerment, Advancement, Diversity, Success) initiative at Marks Paneth, which promotes the retention and professional development of women in the firm.
When it comes to the skills that make Lazzara a great leader, “Honesty and integrity, decision-making skills and the ability to inspire others and care about their success,” are the keys, she says.