Mary Ellen Vangilder

Partner

JPMS Cox PLLC

Little Rock

Age: 38


Mary Ellen Vangilder

Mary Ellen Vangilder is the only female partner at JPMS Cox PLLC, but she does not want to be defined by her gender. Instead, she just wants to be known as the best tax accountant she can be.

Originally from Alexandria, La., Vangilder went to the University of Louisiana at Monroe and worked at another large accounting firm for 10 years before joining JPMS Cox in late 2004 as a senior manager. She made partner at the beginning of 2008.

"Tax laws change daily," Vangilder said. So what an accountant is really selling are personal services and a "commitment to the client that you'll be there for them through the good or bad."

She said that she enjoys that personal interaction and that at JPMS Cox she feels like she is an integral part of the team.

Another thing Vangilder appreciates about the firm is its commitment to the community. "We knew we could make a big difference in the community," she said.

She is a member of the firm's community action committee and participates in days of service for organizations like Habitat for Humanity and City Year. But her focus is on the Arkansas Arts Center, where she serves on the board and as treasurer.

"I truly believe exposure to art makes a difference in a kid's life," Vangilder said.

The Arts Center is a great opportunity for children — especially those who don't get the opportunity to travel as she loves to do — to be exposed to some of the world's treasures right here in Arkansas, she said.