Lepori excelled in the classroom during her childhood and teen-age years at Greenbrae Elementary School, Dilworth Middle School and Reed High School. She took advantage of her smarts, earned academic scholarships to USC and now holds one of the top executive positions in northern Nevada.
Through all that, she still chose to return to her Rail City roots and make Sparks home.
"In college, I didn't necessarily think I'd come back here," Lepori said. "But after a while, you appreciate Reno-Tahoe. I started thinking about getting married and having kids. Even though I wanted to get away growing up, when you're gone a few years, you appreciate what's here.
"I like the lifestyle and the outdoors. I love that you can be on a ski hill in 30 minutes or at the Lake in 30 minutes. From a family standpoint, it's nice you can leave work to go to your kid's school party. Some other places, you just can't do that logistically. The area is family- and community-oriented. That's important to me at this stage in my life."
Lepori, formerly Stephanie Cohen, graduated from Reed in 1988. She had a few college opportunities but opted for the University of Southern California in urban Los Angeles.
"I wanted to leave Reno and I had a few different choices," Lepori said. "I had a full academic scholarship there. It was a big school and exciting. It had a great reputation for its business, accounting and marketing schools. It was completely different from Reno. Aside from the traffic, it was fun, a great place to go to college and experience the Pac-10. It had all that tradition, and as much as you can in the middle of Watts, it felt like USC took good care of you. It's got a great network."
Lepori finished up at USC in 1993 with an accounting degree. She took a job in Las Vegas with Arthur Anderson, one of the top accounting firms in the U.S. She worked there for a couple years, garnered mostly gaming clients and in 1995 got the chance to move back to the Truckee Meadows, taking a position with the fledgling Silver Legacy Casino.
"It was a great opportunity to start up opening a casino, a nice thing on the resume too," she said.
She started as the Silver Legacy's controller, was later promoted to the director of finance and then in 2006 took the title of Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
That's a lofty title, but what does she do?
"I'm involved in strategic planning and oversight of the company. I'm responsible for all financial areas, regulatory compliance, investor relations, all banking loans. We just went through a huge restructuring that I oversaw.
"It's a lot of accounting," she said. "Most people might consider it a boring thing, but it's really a way to see every aspect of the business, to be involved in every aspect. You can have an impact and help people ... Helping them achieve their goals and be successful is great. And then, in the casino industry, every day is a little different. There's always something crazy or interesting going on. There are always new challenges."
Being CFO of a major northern Nevada casino in 2013 is no easy task. Gone are the days of opening doors to a casino and watching the tourism dollars flow in.
"Gaming has struggled a lot," she said. "When I first entered the business with Arthur Anderson, I was sent all over the country because nobody knew about gaming outside of Nevada and Atlantic City. Then it just proliferated. In northern Nevada, it's tough because of the Native American gaming in northern California. The bottom line is there is a lot more competition than there used to be. We have to be smarter and operate more efficiently. Everyone has seen the local gaming numbers. It's a challenge to take care of customers, operate and still be profitable."
Lepori doesn't only see competition in the workplace. With three daughters, ranging in age from nine to 15, there's daily competition just to get time in a bathroom.
"There's some fighting over bathrooms, curling irons. They steal my clothes already," Lepori quipped. "There's never a dull moment. They're growing up fast. As they get older, it seems that way even more so."
Lepori's daughters are Allie 15, Sam 12, and Chloe 8. While Lepori has a challenging career and the busy schedule of a single mom, she wouldn't have it any other way.
"The kids are definitely the most rewarding thing in my life," she said. "As far as the job goes, I'm setting a good example, being a productive member of the community. I serve on boards. I want to set a good example to the girls. The day-to-day simple things, like today going to watch my daughter read a book during a presentation and watching them play sports, that's super rewarding."
When she gets some downtime, Lepori loves to read and work out at the gym, which she says is a huge stress reliever. She loves to travel as well as ski and hike, just enjoy the outdoors.
She said she's learned from mistakes along the way but wouldn't change much about her life.
"There's always things in hindsight that you wish you knew back then what you know now, but it's all part of the learning and growing process," Lepori said. "That's important. I've given up some great opportunities to stay here, but at the end of the day, what's most important is the best place to raise kids? That's right where we are."
Stephanie Lepori's favorites
Food: "Really great salmon"
Movie: Forest Gump
TV Show: Glee
Author: John Steinbeck
Sports Team: USC Trojans