Lee Jennings (85C)
Award: 2011 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
Achievements: While Lee Jennings was a student at Berry, his nightly dorm conversations inevitably turned to the same topic of conversation: his dream to one day own his own business. Now, Lee’s successful fulfillment of that dream has made him a 2011 Entrepreneurial Spirit award winner.
One of Lee’s dorm mates remembers those early years: “During our earliest conversations I was struck with his sincere belief in striving to do one’s best and taking risks, even if others laughed at your effort,” says Stan Ezell (85C), of Control Resources, Inc. “Lee has lived core values that were emphasized during our days at Berry College, and he has an outstanding ability to see developing business opportunities.”
Lee began his career working for other companies and served his country in the U.S. Army, earning two Army Commendation Medals. Finally, in 1997, he and an associate decided to open an accounting practice in downtown Rome, Ga., an already-mature market for accounting.
From those beginnings, Lee now owns and operates R.L. Jennings & Associates in Rome and R.L. Jennings and Company in Ellijay, Ga., with 25 employees. His client-base ranges from small family operations to multi-national corporations.
His ultimate success did not come without its risks. When he decided to pursue his dream, Lee quit a steady job and sold his home to open his practice in a difficult market. He met this challenge by taking start-ups and very small businesses as clients, and he also took a gamble on investing in new technologies as an innovative way to connect to clients.
His efforts paid off, and in 2009 R.L. Jennings & Associates was named as the Rome-Floyd County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.
“Lee upholds the honor and dignity of the accounting profession and exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit,” says David E. DeScalzo, CPA.
He is involved in a wide variety of organizations, including the Board of the Latin American Center of Northwest Georgia, the George Faille Foundation, the Georgia Society of CPA’s and that organization’s Education Foundation, the Northwest Georgia Credit Union and the Rotary Club of Rome. He also served on the Ethics Committee for Georgia Society of CPAs.
Lee and his wife, Sherry Smith Jennings (84C), are parents to Alexa (12c). Lee stays regularly involved with his alma mater, speaking to numerous accounting classes and to the Berry Accounting Association. He has mentored several accounting and business majors and enjoys participating in Berry career fairs.