Meet our Management Team!
Mark Foat, CPA, CBA, CVA, CFF
As one of the original founders, Mark Foat is now the majority shareholder of McCoy Foat. His work style can be summed up in two words: energy and synergy. If you’ve ever talked with Mark, you already understand the energy part of the equation. He overflows with enthusiasm and ideas, and accomplishes more on Monday than many people achieve in an entire week. The synergy component is more subtle. While you might not know it on the outside, Mark is constantly thinking about how to combine efforts, serve clients better and improve the work environment for the team at McCoy Foat. The philosophy is simple: If we invest in our employees and foster a positive work environment, our clients will reap the benefits.
Mark earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business at Warner Pacific College while working in the banking industry. For many years he worked as a commercial risk officer in both the retail and commercial sides of the bank – analyzing complex financial issues, ratios and cash flows. Mark founded McCoy Foat in 2001, along with Michael McCoy and Dick Gassner, with the goal of offering tax preparation, along with a variety of services to help businesses grow and prosper. In 2015, Mark purchased Mike and Dick’s shares in the company as Dick and Mike prepared to move on to new chapters of their lives. Today, Mark is involved in all areas of the firm, with emphasis in commercial finance and business valuation. “We’re really interested and engaged in supporting our clients’ business growth,” he says. “In doing so, we take a team approach – business problems tend to be multifaceted. We proactively help our clients solve problems and avoid future issues with a soup-to-nuts approach that conveniently meets all of their needs.”
Mark is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Oregon Society of Certified Public Accountants (OSCPA) as well as the Institute of Business Appraisers (IBA) and the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA). He is a Certified Public Accountant and holds both the Certified Business Appraiser and Certified Valuation Analyst credentials. Mark has also earned the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) designation from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He lives in Northeast Portland with his wife of 27 years.
Mark enjoys “good” music, wine tasting, golf, running and just hanging out with his family. He serves on the finance committee for Columbia Edgewater Country Club. Mark spent the better part of his early years playing drums in various rock, blues and country bands. About five years ago, after taking a more than two decade break, he dusted off his drums and began playing again. Currently he plays for the 8:30am contemporary service of Augustana Lutheran Church in NE Portland (September through Mid-June Church year).
Sherri Ness, JD
Sherri Ness is inherently detail-oriented and impeccably organized, so a career in accounting is a natural fit. Sherri grew up in Alaska and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Alaska before migrating south to earn her law degree from the University of Oregon. Throughout her education journey, she knew her ultimate destination would be a position in tax management.
After graduating, Sherri worked for a large CPA firm, specializing in international and domestic tax management. Today, as a manager at McCoy Foat, Sherri’s responsibilities range from accounting and financial statement preparation to collaborating with all members of the accounting team to ensure quality work and client satisfaction. Her background in law brings a slightly different perspective and skillset to the table, balancing the highly technical skills of her colleagues.
Sherri appreciates the opportunity to work in McCoy Foat’s positive, team-oriented environment with a personalized boutique approach to service. “I strive to find the right balance between being very detail-oriented and highly cost efficient,” she explains. “Our goal is to provide strong value and reliable partnership to our clients.” Those who have worked with Sherri will tell you that she is a good listener and a great problem solver. “I try to understand my clients’ needs and help them find appropriate solutions by applying my knowledge to their business challenges,” she says.
Sherri is licensed to practice law in Oregon and Washington, and is an active member of the Oregon State Bar Association and the Washington State Bar Association. Sherri lives in the Portland area. When she’s not working, she and her family enjoy traveling and cruising around the world. Before and after tax season, they escape to Maui and Sun River as frequently as possible.
Trevor Habig, CPA
Born in Kansas, Trevor moved to the Portland area with his family when he was in high school. They were drawn to the beautiful northwest and loved the Portland area.
Trevor went to college at Hope International University in California, where he earned his bachelors’ degree in business management. He always enjoyed accounting classes, so it wasn’t a hard decision for him to focus on the accounting profession. While at Hope, Trevor took additional accounting classes through a joint program at Cal State Fullerton, which furthered his education in the accounting field.
Six years ago, Trevor returned to the Portland area. In the time since, he has advanced his career as a “numbers guy.” As suspected, accounting is a perfect fit for Trevor’s persona. His clients will tell you that he is helpful, meticulous and hardworking. He also prides himself in being accurate and in advocating for clients. “I enjoy helping clients sort out their business issues. It’s quite fulfilling to deliver a nice, concise, clear product in the end,” says Trevor.
Trevor started with McCoy Foat in 2014. After his first interview, he knew right away it would be a good fit for him. “The partners and managers were great and the people were very nice,” says Trevor. He also likes the friendly and helpful work environment that McCoy Foat facilitates for both employees and clients.
Trevor lives in Newberg with his wife, three daughters, and his black lab. When he’s not at work, he enjoys hanging out with his family, watching sports (especially football), woodworking and working on his car.
Meet the Rest of our Staff!
Candace Plant, EA
Candy Plant appreciates McCoy Foat’s high standard of professionalism. In her words, “It’s a great company to work for. The firm truly values the employees.”
Candy got her start in accounting while working for a CPA. She joined McCoy Foat in early 2009, bringing more than 20 years of experience in preparing individual and business tax returns. She has worked extensively with QuickBooks and Peachtree, as well as other accounting software packages. She is also licensed with the IRS as an enrolled agent.
Nothing makes Candy happier than putting clients at ease. “So many people get stressed out when you mention tax time. I want to make the process as easy as possible for clients, so they don’t feel stressed,” she says. Her easy-going nature, organizational skills and attention to detail are a winning combination, making the client comfortable and the tax process easy.
Candy resides in the Charbonneau District of Wilsonville with her husband, John. She’s a birdwatcher and loves being out in the fresh air touring Charbonneau, enjoying nature and getting exercise.
Cindy Underdahl, Senior Accountant
Cindy always knew that she wanted to work in the accounting field. So, right out of high school, she earned her bookkeeping certificate with Elliot Bookkeeper.
In the subsequent years, Cindy spent 15 years as the bookkeeper for a construction company and also ran her own bookkeeping firm. “I enjoyed every minute of it,” she says. Cindy enjoys doing her part to help clients be as successful as possible. “I love developing relationships with my small business clients and learning about their industries,” she explains.
Cindy joined McCoy Foat in April of 2013. In her position, she enjoys the opportunity for continual growth and self-improvement. In her words, “With the great foundation of resources and people at McCoy Foat, the sky is the limit.”
Bookkeeping is a perfect fit Cindy’s personality, and this is made evident by the energy and personal touch that she dedicates to every account. Clients will tell you that Cindy is an experienced bookkeeper with the skills and desire needed to help keep their businesses running smoothly and efficiently.
Cindy was born and raised in the Sherwood area and loved it so much she never left. She has three wonderful boys with whom she enjoys hiking, biking, and camping.
Hala Ling, Tax Accountant
You could call Hala Ling a team player.
In high school, he played football. At the time, he never imagined that a career as an accountant would be in his future. Then, after high school, he attended Brigham Young University-Idaho. He was taking classes in business, but at his friends’ urging, he switched to accounting. Now Hala is satisfied with the surprising path his life has taken, and he applies the teamwork he learned on the football field to his work in an accounting firm.
“I enjoy accounting, numbers and financial statements,” he admits. He’s working on becoming a CPA now.
He was born in Hawaii, where both of his parents grew up, but he moved to Washington when he was in kindergarten. Now he says he can’t imagine living anywhere other than the Pacific Northwest.
After working at a larger accounting firm, he moved to McCoy Foat in January, 2017, and he’s pleased with his decision.
“They’re very keen on making sure the employees here are happy,” Hala says, talking about how much he loves the atmosphere at McCoy Foat. He appreciates the healthy work-life balance, as well as the focus on professional development and the supportive atmosphere. “Sometimes it’s hard to maintain that close-knit community.”
He also enjoys working with McCoy Foat’s client base, which tends toward smaller and family-owned businesses. “Any money we can save for them has more of an impact,” he says. Seeing his work help the businesses and people in his community is highly rewarding.
No matter which company or clients he serves, Hala believes in accountability. It’s a lesson that was taught to him by his father and reinforced in his professional experience. “In this industry,” he says, “the work papers you prepared in the prior year are referenced for preparing the tax return in the current year. Whoever is preparing the tax return in the current year will see whether you provided a quality product or cut corners.”
Not one to settle for a merely adequate record, he believes in taking pride in his work.
He also takes pride in his family. He and his wife have a beautiful baby girl and two boys, both of whom have inherited their father’s love of sports. Whether they'll also enjoy accounting remains to be seen.
Heather DeRoberts, Administrative Assistant / Receptionist
Born in New Jersey, Heather moved to Oregon when she was 13 years old. Now, she shows no intention of leaving. “I love this area,” she says. “This is my home.”
After graduating from Canby Union High School, she went on to get an associate degree in accounting from Pioneer Pacific College. Accounting was a logical choice for Heather, who has always loved working with numbers.
Joining McCoy Foat was another clear move for her. Starting with the interview, she was drawn to the company’s friendly atmosphere. She loved how easy to talk to and personable everyone was.
She enjoys her position as receptionist, where she gets to be the first person clients encounter. Known as a team player who is also easygoing, she has great phone skills as well as a good sense of humor. “I love a good joke,” she says. “My day is not complete unless I see someone smiling.”
Throughout her average workday, she handles different projects and appreciates the variety. As she says, “I’m willing to do whatever’s needed to make the day flow smoothly.”
Heather’s hobbies include crocheting, walking and watching movies. When she is not working, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and three sons.
Lori Grant, CPA
Being a native Oregonian, Lori has always loved the Northwest. Her love of biking and hiking is a perfect fit for the Oregon lifestyle and growing up in Florence gave her access to the many wonderful experiences found only on the Oregon coast.
Lori attended George Fox University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and economics. She always knew that a career in accounting was what she wanted to do. She has an aunt, who not only prepared taxes, but enjoyed doing it. And because her personality was similar to her aunt’s, she and her family knew that accounting would be a perfect fit for her too.
After graduating from college, Lori moved to Salem and has worked in the accounting field. Over the years, she has developed and honed her accounting skills and understanding of taxation issues for nonprofit organizations and business entities. Lori’s clients will tell you that she has a driving desire to help them and puts their best interests first.
Lori’s hardworking style benefits her clients and is evident in her ability to complete tasks efficiently and correctly. “I enjoy customizing the client’s accounting processes and/or reports to benefit the client’s needs,” says Lori, “this can be very rewarding.”
One of Lori’s favorite quotes by Zig Ziglar sums up her outlook on work and life: “Look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion, and up with gratitude.”
Lori began working with McCoy Foat in 2015 and immediately knew the firm was a good match for her. She likes the flexible work schedule; working as a team with her coworkers; the diverse clientele; and the variety of work. Lori lives in Salem with her husband and two cats. She enjoys reading, biking and spending time with her family.
Marlys Walker, Accountant
Marlys believes that one should never stop learning. “As technology changes,” she says, “there are always areas to grow and improve.”
That’s one reason she was attracted to McCoy Foat, where there is an environment for learning. She also likes how highly regarded the company is and how her coworkers manage to maintain an atmosphere that is professional yet still friendly. “Communication and support is amazing at McCoy Foat,” she says.
Marlys is originally from Southern California. She started making yearly visits to the Pacific Northwest to visit her brother, and she was struck by the beauty of the region. This, along with the strength of the housing market, eventually convinced her to settle here with her family.
She attended the University of Redlands in California, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Her career started in loan processing, but her interests quickly led her to a position in the accounting department. She has worked as an assistant controller and controller for two California savings and loans companies and as an accounting specialist for a Portland tax consultant.
“I like working with people and being a resource for their business,” she says, stressing the importance of building good relationships and retaining clients. Known for being resourceful and dependable, she wants people to feel comfortable calling her. “I’m excited to get to know the clients here and what their needs are,” she adds.
Marlys lives in Lake Oswego with her husband and two cats. Both her son, who is married, and her daughter live in Portland. When she’s not working, she loves to spend time with family and friends. She enjoys gardening and viewing wildlife. Another favorite of hers is teaching a Bible study class for children one night a week.
Sakuwa Hayashida, Accountant
Bookkeeper, Sakuwa Hayashida is no stranger to business. Prior to joining McCoy Foat, Sakuwa worked for over five years managing accounting; accounts payable and receivable; bank and credit card reconciliation; and online sales transactions for multiple Portland based manufacturing companies. She also administered employee payroll, bank deposits and resolved many other financial issues from the subtle to the complex.
In Sakuwa’s words, “As someone raised in Japan, attention to detail is part of my DNA. Numbers are like puzzle pieces – I’m driven to find all the missing details. If something doesn’t add up, I’ll dream about it at night until I figure it out.”
Now, Sakuwa is experiencing another great side of the accounting business, by joining the team-oriented accounting firm, McCoy Foat, to deepen and apply her knowledge across the many different industries they serve.
While attention to detail is the key, Sakuwa enjoys gathering and holding all the details in balance to provide a clear big picture of her clients’ business workflows. She loves to discover how companies run on a day-to-day basis and enjoys seeing the personality of the business owners reflected in each company’s unique inner workings.
A true child of the world, Sakuwa was born in Berkeley, Calif. before moving to Japan with her parents when she was just eight months old. As a young woman, she returned to America to explore her birthplace and fell in love with the culture. In 2004, she settled in Portland where she went on to earn an Accounting and Finance certificate from the Bookkeeping Career Institute. The rest is history.
Today, Sakuwa feels blessed to have found her work family at McCoy Foat. “The support here is unbelievable,” she explains. “Everyone is team oriented, professional, open and right there for you to help deepen your knowledge.”
Sakuwa lives in southeast Portland with her husband, teenage son, two cats and three chickens. When she’s not at work, she loves cooking, practicing yoga, trapeze and exploring the beautiful northwest with canoe and surfboards in tow.
Scott Murray, Accountant
Born and raised on the island of Maui in Hawaii, Scott moved to the mainland to attend college at Portland State University. He was immediately drawn to the Pacific Northwest and all it has to offer.
After graduating with a bachelors’ degree in health and human performance, Scott started his own small business and spent 10 years living in Bend and five years living in Idaho before returning to the Portland area. Owning his own business and handling his own bookkeeping sparked his interest in accounting. He enjoyed working with numbers and felt that accounting was a great field with transferrable skills, so after moving back to Portland he earned his post-baccalaureate degree in accounting from Linfield.
Accounting is a perfect fit for Scott. It pairs his entrepreneurial background with his desire to understand and help each business client to succeed. “I have a curiosity to help each business,” says Scott.
Scott is a highly motivated person with the determination and fortitude to not only change careers, but to also stay focused on continuous self-improvement. His favorite quote by John Wooden is, “If you’re not making mistakes you aren’t doing anything. I’m positive that doers make mistakes.”
This quote captures Scott’s philosophy. “I want to be a teammate and collaborate with clients, keeping and honest and open dialogue,” says Scott. “Whatever happens, we’ll work together.”
Scott started working for McCoy Foat in 2015. He was drawn to the firm because of their reputation, knowledge and client focus. Scott lives in West Linn with his wife and two children. When he’s not at work, he enjoys spending time with his family, camping, going to the beach and enjoying the outdoors.
Sterling James, LTC
Sterling moved to the Portland area 20 years ago when his first child was born, seeking a better quality of life. He has never regretted his decision. Although he grew up in Texas and also spent 10 years in California as a young adult he considers himself a “native” Oregonian, even though it doesn’t fit the classic definition, since he loves Portland so much.
Self-employed for many years, working as a developer and managing his rental properties, Sterling learned many great lessons and gained firsthand experience in small business management.
Sterling was responsible for tax management and accounting work in his business, which helped him realize his love for accounting. He feels his entrepreneurial experience provides an invaluable foundation for relating to clients as their tax advisor. “I understand how it is to own a small business and that allows me to identify with clients,” says Sterling. It also helps clients to feel comfortable with Sterling because they know he’s been in their shoes.
After becoming a licensed tax consultant, Sterling interviewed with McCoy Foat and realized the firm was a perfect fit. “Working at McCoy is one the most pleasant experiences I’ve had,” says Sterling. “Everybody is really nice and Mike and Mark are really good to the team.”
Sterling enjoys preparing personal tax returns. His ability to relate, attention to detail and small business experience make him a hit with his clients, both business owners and non-business owners. He wants clients to know that he’s an aggressive advocate for them and strives to help them take advantage of all deductions available to them.
When Sterling is not at work, you will find him spending time with his wife and two grown daughters. On top of spending time with his family, Sterling also loves reading, hiking, and experiencing the many wonderful restaurants in Portland.
Of Counsel (Retired)
Richard "Dick" Gassner, JD
“Do the right thing. Period.” This is the philosophy that Dick Gassner works by every day and strives to cultivate in the working environment at McCoy Foat. He explains, “I don’t believe in taking shortcuts. I’ve found that if you do the right thing – always acting with integrity and professionalism in the best interest of others – success will always follow.”
Dick officially retired June 30, 2016, but he will always be an important member of our team. He remains available for special projects and “is only a few miles from the office” whenever we need a hand. Dick admits that he’s more of a “word guy” or wordsmith than a “numbers guy.” But don’t let that fool you. While he may be a writing and problem-solving dynamo, he can still hold his own with a financial statement. As one of the original founders of McCoy Foat, Dick manages special projects on a part-time basis, including researching legal issues, finding answers to tough questions, writing policies, negotiating tax disputes, serving as a designated trustee for structured settlements, and of course, managing business and individual clients. He also helps business owners establish legal entities and navigate the obstacles that arise throughout the life of any business.
So how did this “word guy” land at a tax and accounting firm?
After securing his MBA from Portland State University and his law degree from Willamette University, Dick began his tax career at Arthur Andersen. From there, he went on to provide complex tax services for Portland General Electric (PGE) and later as a tax director for Pacific Power & Light (PP&L), before cofounding McCoy Foat.
It was at PGE that Dick first met his soon-to-be friend and business partner Michael McCoy. When Michael first set out on his own (before the days of McCoy Foat), Dick often strategized with him on complex tax issues. So, when PP&L was purchased and Dick’s position was eliminated along with the rest of the tax department, it seemed like a natural next step to join Michael McCoy and Mark Foat in establishing a new firm.
The trio was destined for success, as evidenced by several years of steady growth and the fond praise of the firm’s clients and employees. When you meet Dick, you’ll immediately notice his warm smile and calming presence. He says, “I try to be steady and even-tempered. These qualities really help in stressful tax situations. I’m able to understand others’ positions and present our positions in a calm, strategic and persuasive manner.”
Dick is licensed to practice law in Oregon, is an active member of the Oregon State Bar Association and a licensed Oregon real estate broker. He resides in West Linn and has two grown sons, three grandsons and a granddaughter. When he isn’t working, you’ll find Dick out hiking, biking, fishing or restoring an old car.
Michael McCoy, CPA, CBA, CVA, CFF
Although no longer a shareholder, McCoy Foat honors the career of founding partner Michael McCoy. Michael began his accounting career at the University of Oregon with degrees in quantitative methods and accounting. He worked for a national tax firm before joining Portland General Electric (PGE) as the head of their securities and exchange and, later, accounting departments. Michael then served as a vice president for North American Energy Services, managing large thermal energy projects, as well as mergers and acquisitions. In 1987 Michael followed his entrepreneurial dream, establishing his first eponymous firm.
Michael joined forces with Mark Foat and Dick Gassner in 2001 to create McCoy Foat and Company. Over the course of his distinguished forty-five year career, Michael excelled in all areas of tax planning and business strategy, holding the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) designation from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Certified Valuation Analyst and Certified Business Appraiser designations from the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA). Since his retirement in December 2016, Michael has enjoyed spending time with his family, Heidi and dog Rashna, traveling, and exploring his favorite hobbies: boating, scuba diving, and cycling.