Gretchen Kalk-Castro, CPA, and Kylee Fraze Norman, CPA, of CLH, CPAs & Consultants have both recently been promoted to become the newest partners at the NWI-based business consulting and public accounting firm. Having assumed their new leadership roles, both professionals have fresh ideas on how to develop the company’s team and its culture.
Kalk-Castro is a veteran of CLH, having been with the company for 23 years since she launched her career at the firm as an intern. Over the years she has invested in fostering a team spirit and helping to develop the company’s culture. “We’re not your traditional, stereotypical accountants,” Kalk-Castro laughed. “We’re not holed up in our offices, isolated from the outside world. We love the vibrant company culture that’s developed over the years. I’m proud to have had a hand in helping CLH shift from a more conventional business environment to one that’s more modern, comfortable, and one that is active in the community.”
For over 20 years, Kalk-Castro worked side by side with former CLH partner Linda Hough, CPA, Retired, as Hough devoted part of her partner role to establishing a dedicated HR department and engendering CLH’s collaborative approach. “Linda’s mentorship was invaluable to me,” said Kalk-Castro. “She was instrumental in assisting me to acquire key leadership and business management skills so that I could be better prepared for the role I’ve taken on now as a new partner. I look forward to building on her legacy.”
Fraze Norman joined CLH in 2015 and she, too, says she has learned a great deal from the high standards of all the CLH partners, past and present. “I love being a part of a firm that empowers women professionals not just within the CLH offices, but in the greater accounting industry in our region.” Fraze Norman continued, “As a new partner, I am also committed to shaping the positive, team-oriented culture of CLH and uphold the standards of excellence set by all the partners of CLH. It will be exciting to see both Gretchen and I build on the foundation established by the partner group who managed the firm through its first 31 years,” referring to John Craighead, CPA, the firm’s founder and former partner, Robert Lange, III, CPA and Managing Partner of CLH, Linda Hough, CPA, Retired, and Tony Gillisse, CPA, Partner.
Both Kalk-Castro and Fraze Norman are committed to staff development, demonstrating how a career in accounting is more than spreadsheets and numbers, and continuing the firm’s tradition of involvement in local community organizations. “I think a lot of people continue to believe that accounting is a ‘stuffy’ job,” commented Fraze Norman. “But it’s more about problem solving, demonstrating competence and leadership through your technical skills, and helping business owners to improve their own companies. We also have incredible opportunity to build into the surrounding community by serving with nonprofit organizations and putting our professional skills to use there.”
Kalk-Castro concurred, “We’re definitely not a dull crew at CLH! CLH has fostered a more forward-thinking perspective on careers in accounting and I’m excited to show our younger staff how this industry can offer them an enriching future. There’s so much more to the career than just crunching numbers.”
Kalk-Castro added, “Over the last few years, there’s been a major shift toward finding deeper satisfaction and purpose in work. A career path in accounting can offer great job satisfaction, plus work-life balance, and we get to help our client companies achieve their goals and give back to our community through engagement, volunteering, and active support.”
Fraze Norman also remarked, “Whatever you’re most passionate about in life, a career in our industry will only enable you to take that passion further. There are also big opportunities for women professionals in this industry. I’m proud to be a partner at CLH where having a women-owned firm is the historical precedent.”
The other senior leaders at CLH also expressed their enthusiasm for the induction of the new partners and for the accounting field overall.
“Our two new partners, Gretchen and Kylee, represent a new generation in accounting leadership that we’re very excited to support. We’re so proud of both of them, and we know they’ll serve as great ambassadors for accounting as our firm works to train and develop emerging talent,” commented Bob Lange, CPA, and Managing Partner at CLH.
Tony Gillisse, CPA, and Partner of CLH agreed. “That’s a major focus for CLH. We’re not just seeking to build a talent pipeline for our own firm’s growth. We’re looking to take our entire industry to the next level by showing people how much opportunity exists in accounting careers.”
Gretchen Kalk-Castro is a certified public accountant who has been with CLH since 2000. She first joined the firm as an intern, a common occurrence of the company’s current employees, as a majority of CLH’s team begin careers there as interns and choose to stay on with the company long-term.
Kalk-Castro is a member of the AICPA, the Indiana CPA Society, and is highly active in several community and professional organizations, including the Indiana CPA Society Leadership Council, an association that advocates for the accounting industry through education, ethical standards, and government relations. She also has served as treasurer of Paladin, Inc., and as a board member with Leadership La Porte County, Michigan City Area School Vocational Building Trades, and with the Exchangettes, which is the women’s branch of the Exchange Club.
Kylee Fraze Norman is a certified public accountant who initially joined CLH as a senior staff accountant in 2015. She serves as another example of how the team is able to advance their careers at CLH, as she progressed into the role of director and tax department lead before becoming a partner. In those roles, she oversaw the tax department’s protocols and was responsible for coordinating staff development and training in areas of taxation.
Outside of work, Fraze Norman is also active with several nonprofit organizations. She’s a member of the AICPA, the Indiana CPA Society, and has served as the treasurer for the Boys & Girls Club of La Porte County, and as an ex-officio executive committee member of Northwest Indiana Influential Women Association (NWIIWA).