Member Spotlight: Kathy Herndon of VSH CPAs
By Chelsea Smiley
Family, community and hard work are three things that Kathy Herndon valued while climbing to the top of her successful career. Born and raised in Whatcom County Herndon is a partner at VSH CPAs. She was intrigued by accounting while reading about it in high school. It fit her skill set, and from there, she set off to pursue and work hard at it.
From high school, she stayed local by attending Whatcom Community College. After graduating, she earned a degree from Central Washington University all while raising a family with her husband, Don Thompson. She then went on to obtain her masters from Golden Gate University.
Herndon is interested in more than just the financial side of her job. She likes the aspect of building a community with the businesses she works with. She enjoys physically seeing what her clients are doing in various departments, on social media, marketing and what their plans look like.
One of her biggest influences is Kathy Varner, founding partner of VSH CPAs. Varner had a lot of vision and a lot of ideas, which lead to taking a lot of risks that paid off. One risk is that Varner left a steady paycheck to create a workplace that gave many people opportunities for success over the last 20 years, Herndon said.
Herndon has had a lot of success, but to her, success doesn’t only come in merit but also in having a full, complete and balanced life. Getting some fun in your day, but also getting some brainpower in your day, she said.
Working for VSH has allowed her to have that desirable work-life balance. A lot of businesses say that they will give you that balance, but VSH does it and models it from the top-down, Herndon said.
“That’s why VSH was started, three partners came together and said this is what we wanted in our lives and were going to make it happen,” she said.
She and her husband have five boys. Her goal was to be a good mom and have a good career at the same time. Now that her boys are grown up, she feels like that is precisely what she did. Two of her boys still live in Bellingham, two are living in Seattle and one recently moved to Georgia with her 8-year-old granddaughter, her only grandchild.
She has a great relationship with her boys because she had the time and energy to spend with them and the luxury to make them a top priority. She was able to drop them off at school, pick them up from school and attend all their events, while not have to worry about putting her career on hold.
When asked where she would like to be in the next five years, its where she is now. She likes her life and the time she gets to spend with her family. Her favorite place to be is at her home in Sandy Point. To hear and smell the ocean is just something else, and the sunsets are spectacular, she said.
Thompson is retired, giving him time to take care of their home, which provide them with more time to go out and do activities their passionate about. Such as, kayaking, hiking, camping and being outdoors.
Herndon is also an avid running enthusiast. Herndon and Thompson started running after having their boys. A way to de-stress you could say, and it continued to grow from there. Herndon’s de-stressor turned into a full-on passion with her running marathons and half marathons.
Some of the big marathons she has participated in are Boston, New York and Chicago. Now she is switching her focus to more trail running, something with a view. Last year she and some friends ran the Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon and Zion Canyon. We saw a country that was just spectacular and had a great time, she said.
Her bucket list consists of a lot of traveling in the next couple of years. Next year she will be going to Spain and Portugal, and the year after Italy and Greece. She also plans on going on a U.S. road trip with her family.
Herndon’s advice for young professionals is to work hard when you’re young.
“I think there is a period of time you need to devote your career. You gotta learn and you gotta put in the time, and then it pays off,” she said.