Tory Stanley is many things.
He’s a husband, a son, a friend, a Big Brother and a mentor.
He is a diehard Louisville Cardinals fan, a member of Raider Nation, a Chicago Cubs fan, a Lakers faithful and a dog dad to Champ, his five-year-old pit bull.
Tory Stanley is a CPA, a senior manager, an athlete, a native of Radcliff, Ky., and a proud alumnus of Kentucky Wesleyan College.
In 2006, KWC’s then-Defensive Coordinator Brad Rzyczycki made a recruiting trip to Central Hardin High School in Radcliff. There he met Stanley, a defensive back, and sold him on Kentucky Wesleyan College.
“I remember he showed up in an all-purple jumpsuit,” said Stanley. “That got my attention. Then he sold me on the location, not being too far from home but far enough, the close-knit community, and finally, the opportunity to play.”
Knowing that not many 5-foot-7, 155-lb. defensive backs find their way to the NFL, Tory was thrilled with an opportunity to keep playing the game he loved. But more than that, he was impressed by Kentucky Wesleyan’s academic profile, knowing that the small, private college could give him the one-on-one attention he was looking for in his higher education journey.
“We’re sports fans. We knew about KWC in the Stanley home because of all the Division II basketball championships, etc.,” he said. “And I loved that it was far enough from home to actually be away, but close enough I could get home quickly if I needed to.”
Stanley studied accounting at Kentucky Wesleyan, graduating magna cum laude in 2010. He obtained his certified public accountant (CPA) license in 2012.
When he made his first official recruiting visit to campus, Stanley met Dr. Debra Hunter, at the time an associate professor of accounting.
“Dr. Hunter was the most influential professor I had,” said Stanley. “She saw the potential in me and pushed me to pursue being a CPA. I had originally wanted to be a sports agent. Dr. Hunter helped me get hooked up with the necessary organizations and internships to follow this path.”
He said it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
“For every one hour of class, you can expect three hours of homework. That’s the standard. That’s the bar.”
Dr. Hunter has high praise for Stanley, years after they both have left campus. Now an assistant professor of accounting at Arkansas Tech University, Dr. Hunter said:
“If asked for a ‘one-word’ description of Tory, I would say ‘Achiever.’ He has always understood that to make your dreams come true, you have to set goals and then ‘do the work’ to achieve those goals. His ability to do this was apparent in college and has been evident in his career since graduation. He has great interpersonal skills, and I love his dedication to giving back to the next generation!”
Stanley believes he had a leg up on the college experience as a member of the football team.
“I felt like I belonged already. Before classes even started, I already had a support group with diverse backgrounds. I was surrounded by great people like Coach Brent Holsclaw, Coach Brad Rzyczycki and Coach Tolliver. I had already met Dr. Hunter. I had an advantage.”
Stanley’s playing career ended prematurely due to a pelvis injury. He had surgery in an attempt to make a comeback, but his surgeon gave him a grave warning.
“He told me I could go play, but that if I got hurt again it could become a quality-of-life issue – like I’d lose the ability to walk.”
His identity was shaken. He’d always played football. Stanley felt lost, and began to wonder, “Who am I without football?”
He sat down with Coach Holsclaw to inform him that he couldn’t play any longer. What happened next was a pleasant surprise.
“He said, ‘Tory, you’re a good person, we love and enjoy having you around the team. We need to keep you as part of the program.’”
Coach Holsclaw kept Stanley on scholarship and put him to work as the film coordinator.
“Who does that? Who gives a scholarship to someone who can’t play anymore? I was the film guy in the end zone, on scholarship. That gesture really helped my family and prevented a huge financial burden. It goes to show the character of the man. That’s Wesleyan. People step up to help you when you’re down.”
Holsclaw said it was an easy decision.
“Tory was a fantastic student-athlete,” said Holsclaw. “Not only was he good on the field and accountable in the classroom, but he was also a dynamic leader in the locker room. Guys on the team knew they could go to him with anything if they needed help. It was a no-brainer from a coach’s perspective, why would you not want that influence in the locker room and on the team.”
The move paid off for the Panthers and Stanley.
“He is a great young man,” Holsclaw added. “He thinks for himself and makes good decisions. He comes from a fantastic family. You knew he was going to be successful early on because his parents laid a great foundation. That shows true today with everything he has accomplished. Tory Stanley defines The Wesleyan Way.”
Two more figures would be integral to Tory Stanley’s success at Kentucky Wesleyan College. He found a mentor in Michael Wade ’80, a prominent Black man, a successful CPA in Louisville, and an alumnus of KWC. The other was his work-study manager, KWC Sports Information Director Emeritus Roy Pickerill ’75.
“Pick is the best boss I’ve ever had,” he said. “He was there for me throughout my entire career.”
When his playing career ended, Pickerill found opportunities for Stanley to contribute more to the Athletics Department, teaching him the history of the College and its athletics programs.
“Roy let me do a lot of research on the content that is still in use by the College today.”
Pickerill shares a mutual respect for Tory.
“Tory will always be one of the finest students I have known and worked with at Kentucky Wesleyan in my five-plus decades,” said Pickerill. “He’s a man of integrity with a thirst for knowledge, a hard worker in all his endeavors, and a leader. Tory was always meticulous as a work-study student. I can describe Tory as the best.”
In Michael Wade, Stanley found a mentor, a role model and an example by which to chart his future path.
“He took me under his wing,” said Stanley. “Anyone who knows Mike knows he loves KWC. He’s so involved. He’s always smiling and always laughing.”
Wade’s leadership and support gave Stanley the motivation he needed to branch out and network to build the relationships necessary to be successful. It was Wade’s example that inspired Stanley to put in long hours in the library, his favorite place on campus, where he forged many of his best lifelong relationships.
“When you have someone who looks like you, and they’re doing something you want to do or you think you want to do, that makes all the difference in the world,” said Stanley.
Stanley says Wade taught him not to be one-dimensional in his work and how to develop the skills and be the person necessary to achieve success in his chosen field.
“He’s one of the reasons I am a senior manager today,” he said.
“You can’t be a mentor unless you have a mentee, and Tory is the best,” said Wade. “His has the ability to listen and receive information, and then act on it, that is the cornerstone. Tory was a total recipient of everything I was trying to do, and most importantly, a recipient of my friendship. I’m in contact with Tory more than many of the people I graduated with. This is what makes the relationship unique. Now he’s a mentor. That’s how the line goes. He’s a great guy; he’s like one of my sons.”
Tory Stanley began his career at KPMG in Nashville. One of “The Big Four,” he had completed an internship with the firm before graduating and got off to a fast start. While he wouldn’t trade his time there and is grateful for all he learned, he began to feel homesick and returned to Louisville, joining MCM CPAs and Advisors as an assurance senior associate.
As he progressed through roles of increasing responsibilities, he was recruited to PwC, another of “The Big Four,” before returning to MCM in a supervisory role, then promoted to manager in 2019 and senior manager in 2022. MCM was acquired by Cherry Bekaert in August 2023, and Stanley serves the firm in an assurance senior manager role today, providing technical accounting guidance and staff oversight to a portfolio of clients across the country.
Stanley calls this promotion the biggest milestone of his professional career, so far.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I teach and coach the junior team members, I nurture them and help with retention. I can talk through my early career frustrations and mistakes with them to help them avoid the same pitfalls.”
He has experience auditing multiple industries including manufacturing, construction, financial institutions, insurance, health care and not‐for‐profit organizations.
Outside of work, Tory Stanley is giving back to his community in a big way.
He is a member of the Black Chamber of Commerce in Louisville and has served with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana for 10 years. He recently completed a term on the Kentucky Wesleyan College Alumni Association Board of Directors, where he served on the Executive Committee, and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the first Black intercollegiate fraternity in the United States.
“My dad was an Alpha, so it’s special to me to be part of that,” he said.
Stanley’s father passed away in 2016.
“I wish I could have a cup of coffee with my dad and just sit and talk,” he said. “I just want to talk to him, tell him how much I love him and ask him if I’m making him proud. I think I know the answer to that. Everything I do is because I had great parents. I miss him. I wish everyone had a chance to meet my dad. He was an amazing person.”
Perhaps the involvement he’s most passionate about is his service with NABA, Inc. Formerly known as the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), NABA, Inc. is a nonprofit professional association that represents the interests of more than 10,000 Black professionals in furthering their educational and professional goals in accounting, finance and related business professions.
Stanley serves as the president of NABA, Inc.’s Louisville chapter and is proud to lead the organization in creating opportunities for and enlarging the pipeline of Black business leaders into every level of accounting, finance, business and entrepreneurship.
“I’m focused on helping youth get full-time opportunities through paid internships, additional scholarships and mentoring. I am very blessed to use my platform as a Black CPA and senior manager. I’m honored to take on that mantle. It’s something I’m passionate about and my parents were, too.”
In the year Tory Stanley has been president of NABA, Inc.–Louisville, the program has grown from serving seven students to now serving 40 students.
His work with students allows him to reflect on his own experiences at KWC.
“It’s all about the people you have around you,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I chose Wesleyan. You go to Wesleyan for the family and community. You are cheating yourself if you don’t take advantage of that.”
Stanley explained that what is important is people, relationships and the moments you create and experience together while in school.
“Take advantage of it,” he said. “Go to K-Dub Idol. Attend events. Find programs that connect students with alumni. Don’t miss out on meeting someone who can help you get where you want to go. If you don’t leave your dorm, it doesn’t matter what college you attend, you won’t have a great time.”
His best advice is simply to put yourself out there.
“People are there to support you. All you have to do is ask. Have an open mind with everyone you meet. I remember just about everyone I ever met at Wesleyan because it’s such a special place. I’m thankful to God that he led me to go there because I will have friends and memories for the rest of my life. I have so much love for KWC, and my experience as a student was amazing. If I could go back, I would.”
Written by Brandon Cox ’10