2015 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Gary L. Belske

Belske GaryWashington High School, 1974

Other Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Attended: Bethel Elementary, Arrowhead Junior High.

He was the first one in his family to go to college, and now he manages one of the most successful and renowned accounting firms in the world.

Gary Belske is senior vice chair and chief operating officer for Ernst & Young (EY) practices in the Americas. He also is a member of EY’s Americas Executive Board and Global Markets and Investment Committee. He is proud of his firm’s legacy, especially the work they do in schools around the country through their College MAP (Mentoring for Access and Persistence) initiative. It focuses on providing college access for underserved students. Washington High School is one of the schools they serve.

Belske said he made the decision to become an accountant during his junior year in high school. He was taking a bookkeeping course and found the work came natural to him. In fact, he finished the year-long course in one semester so his teacher allowed him to take the level two course the same year. He got involved in the Future Business Leaders of America organization and competed in a national competition where he placed second in the country during his senior year. He took his first plane trip to attend this national competition.

During his senior year, his teacher challenged him by providing him with college level work. He was so well prepared by the time he got to college, that he quizzed out of a number of courses for his accounting major. It enabled him to finish his bachelor’s degree at Rockhurst College in three years, and he went on to complete his master’s in one year at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Belske has served as an officer of the Mental Health Association of Greater Dallas and is also on the Board of College for Every Student.

While it was gratifying to be the first in his family to go to college, Belske said what was more rewarding was knowing that he set an example for his younger siblings, who followed suit. And today through his firm’s College MAP program, he is helping other students to do the same.