Alumni Spotlight

Get to know our Wipfli alumni!

Our Wipfli alumni have contributed so much in making our firm what it is today. We’d like you to get to know retired partners, leaders and other former associates who not only gave their all to Wipfli but also made a lasting, positive impact on clients, their fellow associates and their communities.

This quarter, we’re spotlighting JoAnn Cotter, retired partner, industry leader and Financial Institutions practice leader:


What attracted you to Wipfli following college?

I was already engaged to be married and was looking to stay in the Green Bay area. Wipfli was recommended to me by my brother, who is 10 years older and had worked for Wipfli before moving to a CFO role with a client.


What is a favorite memory from your years with Wipfli?

I have many favorite memories and thoroughly enjoyed all the clients, associates and experiences I had, but one of my favorites was early in my career on an out-of-town job with three associates. We would “dine” on a different happy hour each night. The manager knew where they all were.

This night it was at a bar out in the country and it was “toga” night. So, we made togas from our hotel bed sheets and set off. It was fun, and as the night was ending, we couldn’t find one of the managers. Just as we started looking, the music stopped and there was a drum roll for the human pyramid they were building on the stage. Who pops up on the top but Dave, our manager. We found him! We had a lot of good times with our FI Group over the years!


What are some of the best lessons you learned during your career at Wipfli?

There are many! I was fortunate to have many terrific partners and peers that I worked for and with. Learning to listen more and talk less was a very valuable lesson. Another was to do the best job you can, be considerate of others, help whenever and wherever you can, and don’t try to “compare.” Life is rarely fair, so just focus on doing the best you can, and the rest will take care of itself.


Do you use any of those lessons now?

Every day!


What advice do you have for those starting their careers at Wipfli?

Do the best you can, and always offer to help, even if it means even more hours. Consideration and thoughtfulness never go out of style.


What do you feel was your greatest accomplishment during your career?

I think one of my greatest accomplishments was the growth of our Financial Institutions practice under my leadership. We grew from $12 million to almost $45 million in revenue and from a predominantly audit and tax practice to a robust consulting, audit and tax practice. I had the great honor of being part of and assisting to foster one of the closest-knit practice units in the firm. Partners on down to staff, they were and still are a terrific team!


Now that you have retired from Wipfli, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I am finding I am enjoying A LOT! I have traveled somewhere in the U.S. or Europe every month since I retired. I have enjoyed spending more time with my family and friends and getting much more involved in our family business and the various boards of directors that I am a member of.


Are you still involved in the accounting profession? If so, in what way?

I continue to be on the finance council and board of directors for the Green Bay Diocese and Encompass Early Education Foundation. I joined the board of directors and audit committee for Society Insurance and the community development council for Unity Hospice. I have also been involved in several fundraising capital campaigns for a couple of nonprofits.

I also help my husband and son in the family business, which has grown tremendously over the last 20 years. I have found this to be very rewarding, personally, to be assisting families in such a traumatic time in their lives, and I really admire my husband, son and their staff for the thoughtful and considerate care they provide every day to families.


Have you stayed in touch with Wipfli associates or other Wipfli alumni? If so, what are some of the ways you connect?

Absolutely! Many are friends as well as former associates and peers. I reach out via e-mail and texts. I also make sure to call for lunches and dinners periodically when I am in town. I had the privilege of working across many offices and making friends in many geographies and look forward to connecting when I travel. I am also very honored to be invited to after-hour get-togethers or luncheons. Always fun to see people.

I have also been able to refer new work to Wipfli through my various activities.


What do you enjoy the most in your life now?

I think I enjoy the freedom of doing what I want, when I want and being fully on vacation or immersed in activities and present to my family without e-mail, conference calls or other business commitments lurking in the background. That is truly liberating!


Anything else you would like to add about your time at Wipfli or your life now?

Wipfli was a terrific career, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I look forward to staying connected, watching Wipfli continue to grow and be successful, and staying connected so I can continue to assist in the growth through referrals.