Kim VanHuss, B'83 knew she wanted to be an accountant when she was 16 years old.

“I took a bookkeeping class in high school and loved it,” VanHuss said. “I loved it so much that I ended up taking the next level up as an independent study.”

So when she arrived at the University of Richmond, she already had her eye on an accounting major. There were dozens of students who started out in the accounting program with her, but only 24 ended up graduating with the degree, herself included.

“It gets whittled down, intermediate accounting tended to do that,” VanHuss said.

Though the course is known for its difficulty, it is also known for forging friendship and camaraderie between students.

“We were a very close knit group, still are, we’ve all stayed very close over the years as a whole,” VanHuss said.

She has reached out to other former students in that group multiple times over the years, whether it’s for advice or a job reference, she says they all have looked out for each other. And she credits those relationships to the accounting department.

“It was a great program, I have great memories,” she said. “The accounting professors gave me tremendous confidence. I was extremely shy growing up and when I first came to college. University of Richmond was a safe place for me to become more self-assured. Any successes I had were celebrated.”

She says that confidence spring boarded her into a position to start her own firm when the time came. Seven years after graduation she decided to leave her position as senior manager at KPMG and found her own accounting firm.

Since then, she has established three accounting firms in the Richmond area, and now serves as tax partner at Kimble CPAs, which she began in 2016.

“I have found that the clients are very interested in working with someone who is knowledgeable, who is impeccable with their work and who puts client service at the top. I’ve always done that, and I have not found it to be a barrier at all in working for myself,” VanHuss said.

Joe Ben Hoyle, associate professor of accounting, taught VanHuss while she attended University of Richmond. At the time, the accounting department gave her the first Lewis B. Andrews Accounting Scholarship, which was awarded annually for many years to the top accounting student.  Hoyle believes she was well ahead of her time when founding her own firm in the 1980’s, and still is today.

“She has created a wonderful career in tax accounting and has started her own CPA firm on more than one occasion,” Hoyle said.  “That is not easy for anyone to do because the person has to do the work while also building up a clientele.”

VanHuss says loyal clients have made her journey easier, as well as loyal employees. She has made hiring women a priority since the beginning, particularly women who are rejoining the work force later in life, and says it has served her well over time.

“When I have hired those individuals, they’re very dedicated, very focused, and they’re very loyal. When you give opportunities that others might not, they’re extremely loyal,” VanHuss said.

She says that leadership instinct has grown over the years, but she would not have found the spark if not for the accounting program at the Robins School.

“I had obviously the academic background to be successful, but the confidence I got while I was a student is what I think ultimately allowed me the ability to start my own companies and find success,” VanHuss said. “I know I would not have gotten that if I had gone to a large university. I think I would have stayed shy and less confident, and maybe be overlooked.”

Now, nearly three years after founding her third firm, VanHuss says her group is constantly trying to evolve and provide different services to its clients. The firm focuses on audit as well as tax practice, and recently added financial managers in Kimble Advisory.

“I think we give a great perspective to running the firm and looking to the future,” VanHuss said, and hopes to continue that trend for years to come.