Member Spotlight: Donna Vandervries

Donna VandervriesDonna Vandervries is the real deal. From a career starting in public accounting, to becoming a lawyer to a career in assessing, she is a successful professional who has recently received her Ad Valorem designation. Read on to learn more about her professional journal and why she decided to invest her time in the Ad Valorem/Mass Appraisal Specialty Designation from ASA

Tell me a little about your professional background? How did you begin your assessing career?

I don’t think most people grow up with assessing as a career path. I think people tend to fall into the business because it’s related to various other fields such as the law, accounting, real estate, etc.

I was a CPA who went to law school at Ohio State where I was fourth in my class. After two years as an attorney at a large law firm, a new baby at home, and an attorney spouse, I made a career change. I began assessing personal property for the City of Grand Rapids Michigan.  I liked it and got involved with the tax tribunal and I was employee of the year for Grand Rapids.  I decided I wanted to learn real property assessment and attained my levels up to four.  I became a real property senior appraiser for the city.  I attained my appraiser license for added MTT credibility.  I had the opportunity to run a department and went to Muskegon County.

When did you get involved with ASA?

I was introduced to ASA following a webinar on Reciprocity with Michigan and my personal connections with Michael Lohmeier, ASA; Kris Sieloff, ASA and Ron Prat, ASA.

I was intrigued by the organization particularly after reading an article on Kris Sieloff that Michael had forwarded to me. I liked what I saw and decided to get more involved.

I know you have various designations including an MMAO, CPA, CAE and AAS. Why did you decide to pursue your Ad Valorem/Mass Appraisal Speciality Designation?  After the webinar and through various conversations with other ASAs, I decided to pursue my Ad Valorem/Mass Appraisal Specialty Designation. I love to read and study and I consider myself somewhat of a professional student who likes new challenges.  I had also found out more about the designation at the booth ASA had at IAAO. In the end, the personal connections I had made, basically made my decision to pursue my Ad Valorem/Mass Appraisal Specialty Designation easier after having heard about it multiple times.

Have you ever spoken or written about your expertise?

After earning my law degree, I pursued teaching and I have taught law and assessing for the state, including Oakland County.

I have been published in Grand Rapids Bar Journal, Cannon Township newsletter, Michigan Lawyers Weekly and Michigan Probate, and Estate Planning Journal. The topics have varied from “How values can go down but taxable value remains constant” to the assessment process.

What’s the next phase for the assessing profession?

I think that now’s a good time to get into assessing in particular here in Michigan. In general the profession is an aging one, which can be a good and bad thing. The good: it means there is more opportunity to get started and rise through the ranks. The bad: it’s not an easy profession to navigate and there are a lot of stepping-stones you have to hit to be a good assessor. Once you’re there though, I think it’s one of the most fulfilling career paths. It’s one that’s always changing and that’s challenging. No two days are the same! I look forward to new blood to come into the profession so that it can continue in the future.

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