Couple with local ties establish MSU accounting analytics lab
Editor's note: This story is reprinted, with permission and with local editing, from the Fall 2023 edition of the Missouri State University College of Business Connection magazine. Gainesville native Mike Breeding and his wife, Judy Breeding, along with Mike's sister Faunlee Breeding Harle and her husband Fred, live in Springfield but maintain a residence in Gainesville. Together they established the Gainesville Hometown Makeover Fund in the Ozark County Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Ozarks Community Foundation. Mike is a member of the boards of directors of the OCCF and the Ozark County Historium; he is also a member of the Gainesville Lions Club and the Robert Burns Masonic Lodge here. The Breedings recently donated $5,000 to the OCCF for use on the community garden that's being established through Missouri University Extension at The Center.
By Juliana Goodwin
Missouri State University
Office of Creative Services
Reprinted with permission
After graduating from the MSU College of Business in 1973 with an accounting degree, Judy Breeding set out on a future of breaking boundaries and traditions in a profession where women were a rarity.
Now, 50 years later, she and her husband, Mike, a 1980 MSU graduate [and a 1970 Gainesville High School grad], are sharing the rewards of their successful careers by funding the new Judy and Mike Breeding Accounting Analytics Lab in the MSU College of Business.
This new space, formally an open-access computer lab, is in addition to the scholarship Judy established in the MSU School of Accountancy, the Judy Breeding Accounting Scholarship.
The latest gift came about when Judy informed Karl Schmidt, executive director of major and planned giving for the MSU Foundation, she was open to making another gift to the college. When a naming opportunity became available in the School of Accountancy, he contacted the Breedings, and they were on board.
The new analytics lab will help MSU accounting students prepare for a challenging and rewarding career by introducing them to popular industry platforms for accounting analytics and exposing students to emerging technologies.
The hands-on experience prepares them to be trailblazers in the future – which is what Judy has been throughout her career. In her first job after graduating, Judy was the first woman CPA to be hired by BKD Accounting (now FORVIS).
In her early career at BKD, supervisors insisted that women wear dresses or suits with skirts rather than pant suits, not always the best outfit for lifting boxes and retrieving items from out-of-reach shelves while conducting audits and inventories for big-store business clients. The lunchroom was segregated, with the men dining on one side and the women – the secretarial staff and Judy – on the other. Finally, one of the tables was moved to the center so Judy could join her professional colleagues.
While Judy was conducting one of these audits, a client asked, “Do you have an accounting degree?”
Judy assured him that she indeed did.
During all these experiences, Judy remained undaunted. “I hung in there,” she said.
Her determination and hard work led her to become the first female partner at then-BKD.
While Judy steadily and expertly performed the work she was hired to do, her dedication, resolve and talent paved the way for many women.
“Women are pretty detail-oriented and make good auditors,” she said.
When she retired from BKD, the company hosted a retirement party to celebrate Judy and her achievements. During his address to the crowd, a company executive listed Judy’s accomplishments, remind listeners she was the first woman to fill that job. Then he asked other female CPAs in the crow to stand up. Half the CPAs stood up.
They were there, in part, because Judy championed the profession for women. It’s one of the reasons she established an accounting scholarship at MSU.
Over the years, she has met some of the recipients of her scholarship, noticing that many have been single moms. One scholarship recipient had three children and drove to Springfield form Branson to take classes.
“I’ve always had an interest in education,” Judy said. “I believe the best way to get our kids on the right track is to educate them. We’ve just got to do the best we can to do that. Educating our kids is important in Springfield, other cities and to economic development. MSU is high important to our community and our economy, and it has done an excellent job educating students.”
Judy’s husband, Mike, has also established a scholarship in MSU’s College of Business. His connection to accountancy is a case of opposites attracting. Mike grew up in Gainesville, where his parents were teachers. He initially planned to go into education but then changed his mind and turned to his other passion: business.
“I loved anything with business, except one subject, which was accounting,” Mike said. “I despised accounting. When professors would first hear my name, several of them asked, ‘Do you know a Judy Breeding?’ And I would say, ‘Yes, I’m married to her.’ They would say, ‘And you struggle with accounting?’ I’m like, ‘Well, it doesn’t rub off.’”
With Judy’s tutoring Mike ended up with As in accounting and graduated in 1980 with degrees in business and marketing.
He joined State Farm Insurance and has been an insurance agent in Springfield for 42 years.
A couple with giving hearts
In addition to their scholarship and the new lab, Judy also serves on the Missouri State University Foundation Board of Directors and the Ozarks Technical College Foundation Board. Mike served on the Ozark County Community Foundation Board of Directors.
They have been married 47 years and have two sons, Jonathan, an attorney who lives outside Washington, D. C., with his wife, Caroline, and Matthew, who owns and operates RMS Automotive in Springfield.
Judy retired from BKD in 2003. She now manages the Breedings’ Ben Steele Properties business.
Now in their 70s, they both work full time. In their spare time, they love traveling, boating and deep-sea fishing.
“She loves driving big boats – the bigger the better,” Mike said.
And there’s one more way Judy and Mike Breeding give back to their community. For more than 40 years, they’ve donned red costumes and played Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Springfield Christmas parade.
They also bring holiday cheer to children in homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and low-income schools and churches.
Through time, love and money, the Breedings have made investments in many areas of the Springfield community.
That’s the goal: “Giving back,” said Mike. “Leaving the world better than we found it.”