Influential Women of Northern Nevada: Candace Evart
John Seelmeyer, Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Candace Evart is learning to play the piano.  She arises before sunrise and spends the hour between 5 and 6 a.m. each day practicing on the piano — a grand piano, actually — in her home.
It’s the same focus Evart has brought to her career as a financial analyst who studies everything from the fiscal impact of a new shopping center on local government to the fairest way to divide the assets when well-off couples divorce.

And having spent a quarter century building Meridian Business Advisors, Evart finds that her role in the business continues to evolve.

Always a stickler for detail, she’s focused even more on quality control. It’s not uncommon, for instance, for Evart to play the role of an opposing attorney who seeks to poke holes in the court testimony that’s under rehearsal by one of Meridian Business Advisors’ analysts.

“I am absolutely hardnosed,” Evart says. “Nothing that goes out of the office contains a typo. No slack work. That’s not good enough for us.”

At the same time, she’s increasingly aware of the importance of mentoring young women in the early stages of their careers.

Through a formal program, Evart has served as a mentor to students at Hug High School. Less formally, she’s provided counsel to numerous young professionals — both within the walls of Meridian Business Advisors and elsewhere in the community.

Her advice is straightforward: Reno is a small town, so don’t burn your bridges.  Stay open and honest with yourself and others around you. Remember the Golden Rule.

Says one beneficiary of her mentoring, Eugenia Larmore, a senior analyst at Meridian: “Through her mentoring work, Candace speaks to women about self-respect and the importance of hard work in the face of any adversity.  These activities have had a great impact on our community and a number of individuals.”

Evart is simply sharing some of what she was given.

She grew up, mostly on horseback, in the Healdsburg area of northern California.  From her parents — “My father was the most ethical man I’ve ever known,” she says — Evart learned respect for others. Honesty. A respect for hard work.

And her parents never doubted that she would go to college.

She graduated from the University of California at Berkley with a degree in history and political science. Moving to northern Nevada a few years later, she earned a master’s degree in business from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Evart joined the finance staff of the Washoe County government, rose during her seven-year tenure to become the county’s budget director, and set off on her own in 1983 as a financial consultant working with local governments.

She joined forces with Howard Consulting Group — the predecessor to Meridian Business Advisors — in 1993, and now works as president of the firm as it provides services ranging from consulting on local government finance to forensic accounting services sought in court cases. It continues, too, to provide a good dollop of financial analysis about casino operations in 18 states and four countries.

“We’ve been very successful,” Evart acknowledges.  “We have a quality product.  We perform on time and on budget. We listen well.”

Evart spends much of her day working directly on financial analysis projects, keeps in touch with clients and suppliers and stays in close communication with the firm’s eight employees.

There’s a reason, the Meridian president says, that the company always is housed in one-story office space.

“As soon as you put in a staircase, the communication goes to hell in a handbasket,” she says.

And she’s insistent that staff goes home at 5 o’clock.

“There’s more to life than work,” Evart says. “People are nicer to be around when they’re working a 40-hour week.”

Not that Evart spends the rest of her life watching reruns of “Seinfeld.” At one time or another, she’s been the chair of United Way of Northern Nevada, a member of the board of governors of Renown Medical Center, a commissioner of the Nevada Tax Commission for 10 years, president of the YMCA of the Sierras and an advocate for women’s athletics at UNR.

Her current passions include the Nevada Land Conservancy, where she serves on the board.

That’s a passion that resonates deeply with Evart, who was moved to northern Nevada more than a quarter century ago in large measure because she was drawn by the region’s outdoor lifestyle.

The outdoors remains an anchor in her life, she says.  Her spiritual life unfolds itself during the hours she spends on horseback or hiking the mountains of northern Nevada.

Her reflections often come back to the joy she’s found.

“I have fun at work,” Evart says. “I have fun outside of work. I did something right.” ˘

As published in Northern Nevada Business Weekly’s Influential Women of Northern Nevada segment, September 2009.