Women Worth Watching 2015

Cheri Burnham

This Moss Adams Partner Provides Telecom Tax Advice and Education


web MossAdams_BurnhamCheri Burnham has focused professionally on telecommunications and cooperative tax since 1995, providing tax planning and compliance, as well as consulting services for cooperative and corporate organizations. She serves wireline commercial and cooperative enterprises, wireless carriers, cable television companies, fiber transport companies, and telephone associations.

Responsible for the tax work performed by the Spokane and Kansas City offices’ telecom group, and for the firm’s utility cooperative tax practice, Cheri is lead instructor for two national cooperative seminars and one corporate tax seminar—part of the firm’s annual series of 20 accounting and business courses for the telecom industry. In addition, she is regularly asked to speak to cooperatives’ boards of directors on capital credit strategies.

“I think my biggest career leaps have been when I’ve said ‘yes’ to scary opportunities—whether they are speaking engagements, challenging projects, or leadership positions—particularly when I doubt my capability,” said Cheri. “I am continually reminded to get outside my comfort zone and stretch what I believe I am possible of.”

“I am continually reminded to get outside my comfort zone …”

Cheri’s experience includes cooperative capital credit policy design and strategy development; cooperative patronage strategy; cooperative and corporate structure analysis and consulting; consulting on mergers, reorganizations, and corporate restructuring; IRS audit assistance; consolidated tax returns compliance and planning; state income tax compliance and planning; deferred tax and ASC 740 compliance and planning; utility cooperative tax compliance and planning; S corporation analysis and conversions; shareholder income tax planning and strategy; and corporate acquisition strategy and analysis.

In addition to holding a BBA in accounting from Gonzaga University, Cheri is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives, and the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants. She previously served as chair of the Telergee Alliance Tax Committee, where she ensured that the committee met its goals of improving tax practice efficiency and sharing best practices among the seven member firms.

Education: BBA, Gonzaga University

First Job: Driving wheat truck during harvest in Eastern Washington

What I’m Reading: “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown

The most important quality a woman leader should have is…

…compassionate discernment, and the bravery to listen to and follow her inner wisdom

The career advice I’d give my former self:

Get mentoring early and often—not just related to work performance, but about the real challenges in being a working mom and dedicated professional.

Words I live by:

Be as you wish to seem. – Socrates

The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…

…making changes and hard decisions earlier: particularly related to people that are not the right fit. The difficult decisions usually turn out to be the best for all parties and issues do not generally get better with time.

When I really need to focus on a project, I…

…limit interruptions, get centered, and clarify the outcome I want to achieve.

My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…

…saying yes to scary opportunities (speaking engagements, challenging projects, or leadership positions) particularly when I doubt my capability. I am continually reminded to get outside my comfort zone and stretch what I believe I am possible of.

Being a woman in my profession has been…

…challenging and rewarding. I have so enjoyed it and I am challenged each day.

I’ve learned that failure is…

…difficult, uncomfortable, painful, and a very valuable motivator for improvement.

I maintain a healthy personal life by…

…making my kids’ activities a priority. I love watching their football, basketball and volleyball games, and I make every effort to be at each one.

I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…

…a female CPA who had her own practice spoke to my high school accounting class. She talked about the influence she had on her staff, the impact she made with her clients, and the balance she was able to maintain with her family.