When Beth Rader was growing up in Tennessee, success was always an option. Her mother had a career in accounting. She knew her grandmother had continued to work as a bookkeeper following the birth of her first child, a rare thing in the early 20th century.

“I come from a family where it was assumed that a woman would have a career,” she says. And quite a career it has been. Rader, a director in Deloitte & Touche’s National Risk & Regulatory Policy Group, has established herself as a leader — and a valuable mentor for other women — in a field once dominated by men. “One of the things I always really enjoyed in addition to the technical aspects of my accounting and auditing career was developing the careers of those who’ve worked for me — helping them to succeed,” she says.

In the early 1990s, Rader was instrumental in developing and implementing Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative. It began a revolution in attitude at the accounting firm, which was dominated by men. As part of a national steering committee, Rader’s input helped drive the formation of procedures to retain and advance the careers of talented women. Since then, Deloitte has consistently been named as one of the best firms in the country for women, and Rader is often asked to speak about Deloitte’s success.

“I’m extremely proud to be associated with a firm that recognized this need and has been on the cutting edge of the solution,” she says. “I’m honored to have been able to contribute to this effort personally.”

Rader was a partner at Deloitte for a dozen years and has filled senior leadership roles within the firm and her profession. Currently she’s closely involved with the new Center for Audit Quality, an organization dedicated to building confidence in the audit process.

As high as Rader has climbed, she has always made it a priority to surround herself with other professional women. When she moved to Cincinnati in 2001, Rader was disappointed not to find a thriving women’s networking group. So she co-founded 100 Wise Women, a series of quarterly breakfasts pairing one established, successful “wise woman” with a table of five rising professional women. “There’s a palpable dynamism at these events,” she says. “The power and value of networking. That’s what they’re all about.”

Since 2004, over 300 “wise women” and 1200 invited guests have participated in the program and the concept has spread to eight other cities.

It’s part of a trend in Rader’s life to seize — or sometimes create — opportunity. Early in her career, she applied for and was named the first female Professional Accounting Fellow at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. “The keystone to all of it is to really know yourself and know your interests, values and strengths and to respect that,” she says.

Rader has made work-life balance a priority. With two teenage sons at home, Rader leads through example. Her commitment to volunteerism on a national and local level is absolute. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Salem College in North Carolina, the oldest institution of higher learning for women in the United States. She’s active in the United Way Women’s Leadership Initiative, and the Women Excel advisory board, a Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce leadership program.

“I think it’s a good time to be a woman in Cincinnati,” she says. “There are a tremendous number of energized women here.”

And many of them have Rader to thank for it.