Tessa Keena, 37
Senior manager, accounting solutions
Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors
Cosmetologist-turned-accountant Tessa Keena believes her unusual career path is proof that with grit and determination, people can defy their limitations.
A single mom out of high school, Keena put her career aspirations on hold for a time, but with the help of family, friends and her now-husband, persevered toward a pair of college degrees.
After earning her cosmetology license, Keena started a home-based salon, Beauty Created, in 2003. She worked there and in various other administrative jobs between 2006 and 2014 while she earned an associate degree from Cornerstone University, a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Grand Valley State University and her certified public accountant (CPA) designation.
While at GVSU, Keena gained a mentor who encouraged her to apply for a role at Hungerford Nichols. She got the job in 2011, and in the past nine years, has been promoted three times, helping to reinvent the firm’s accounting solutions team and becoming its senior manager, while also preparing to become the firm’s fourth female partner next year after just a decade in practice — one of the shortest paths to partnership in the firm’s 80-year history.
Keena was appointed to the Michigan Board of Accountancy by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. She is a board and finance committee member for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, a board member of The Brains Foundation, a volunteer with the Power of Education Foundation and a financial supporter of Compassion International and Christar Organization. She also is a youth group leader, mentor and student host through foreign exchange and other programs.