Stephanie Powell was a humble trailblazer. She joined LandDesign in 2000 as chief financial officer. It was a new position the firm created specifically for her. In 2003, she became LandDesign’s first female, and only non-design, partner.
On March 25, Stephanie left this world following a long and valiant battle with gynecologic cancer. She leaves behind colleagues and a community whose lives she changed for good.
The decision to bring Stephanie on board as CFO was a game-changer for the firm, explains LandDesign President Rhett Crocker. “Stephanie brought a much-needed business management mindset to a firm filled with creative professionals. She helped us understand how to build a better business while still doing great design work and to recognize that we needed to be financially healthy to grow.” In 2007, when the great recession hit, it proved to be wise advice that carried LandDesign through when many other firms stumbled or failed.
Stephanie’s analytical left brain was a good complement to her partners’ right brain creativity. “She brought balance to the table, gave us a different perspective to consider and made accounting bearable,” said Rhett. “LandDesign is definitely a better business and a better place because of Stephanie.” Her colleagues agree.
Beyond the financial contributions, Stephanie also left her mark on LandDesign as a mentor and advocate for women at the firm.
Heba Root, Director of Human Resources
To Heba, Stephanie was a “remarkable gift” who began mentoring her in the early days of her career 15 years ago and guiding her through the big decisions and turning points in her life. From Heba’s HR viewpoint, Stephanie was unique among CFOs. “It was not simply about the bottom line for her. Along with maintaining a healthy company, she also took into consideration what was in the best interest for the employees.”
Dawn Cagle, Director of Financial Services,
Dawn worked alongside Stephanie from the day she joined the firm. “She was a great mentor. I learned so much from her and miss her greatly.” Stephanie is the reason Dawn went back to school to earn her MBA. She also credits Stephanie with encouraging employees to make work/life balance a priority and paving the way for women to advance to leadership positions at LandDesign.
Beth Poovey, Director | Greenways, Parks + Open Space
Beth is one of the beneficiaries of the leadership path that Stephanie blazed. “For me, her biggest impact was as a role model for woman partners in a profession that traditionally has fewer women than men in leadership positions. In recent years, we would talk about how the women of LandDesign could support each other.” Beth misses those conversations with Stephanie, but is inspired to pay forward the encouragement she received by helping other women at the firm grow in their careers.
Stephanie’s life also had impact outside the office.
Lydia’s Legacy is an organization dedicated to funding research and raising awareness about gynecologic cancer. When Stephanie moved to Charlotte, she contacted the nonprofit about volunteering. “She was very clear that she didn't want to just use her business skills to help with financial or administrative things, she wanted to be in the community fellowshipping with people like her who were going through or had been treated for a gynecologic cancer,” said Managing Director Carin Ross Johnson.
The organization dedicated its annual charity golf tournament this year in memory of Stephanie. “She made family through Lydia's Legacy, and we made family through her. We love Stephanie and will miss her dearly.”