“I admire my mom greatly. She did the best she could in her situation. What I learned from her is to hold your head up with dignity and grace and take the high road.”
Gail Markham describes herself as compassionate, strong and, possibly most importantly, as a survivor. As the founding partner of Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Company, P.A., her colleagues described her as a “pioneer” and a business leader who “has helped make Southwest Florida a better place to live and place where any woman can succeed in business and life.”
Markham opened her CPA practice in Southwest Florida in 1979 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Maryland. As her practice grew, so did her desire to learn more about accounting. As with everything in her life, she pursued studying forensic accounting with a vengeance -- taking courses and obtaining certification in Financial Forensics from the American Institute of CPAs.
“When I was at the University of Maryland, I was one of just few women in every class I took,” says Markham, adding, “I didn’t think much about it…until I got my first job. When it came time for them to discuss partnership with me, they made a comment ‘we don’t think a woman should be a partner here because they have to make decisions.’” That was the impetus for Markham “to walk out the door and start my own firm. I get to make all kinds of decisions now and I think I’m pretty good at it.”
Recognized for her business acumen, she has received the Uncommon Friends Foundation Business Ethics Award, Florida Accountant Advocate of the Year, Lee Career Woman of the Year, Collier EDC Best Places to Work and Florida Trend’s Best Companies to Work For.
Since she was a young woman, Markham has turned adversity into opportunity. Growing up with a loving, but uneducated, struggling mother propelled Markham to seek as much education possible. As a witness to physical abuse and a victim of sexual abuse, Markham used her energy and passion to co-found the Lee County PACE Center. “I’m passionate about it because I’m one of those PACE girls. I mentor the girls. I show them the path to success and being stronger as a result of what has happen to us.”