A nonprofit executive in higher education for more than thirty years, Ann Louden is the CEO of Ann Louden Strategy and Consulting. Recognized for her expertise in board development, volunteer management, campaign planning, and donor stewardship, Ann provides seasoned counsel to chief executives, staff, and volunteer leadership.
Responsible for raising more than $150 million to benefit the nonprofit community in Texas and now in New York, where she relocated to five years ago, Ann’s primary interests are education, health care for women and children, the arts, and adoption. For twelve years, she led and was the spokesperson for a breast cancer advocacy initiative that engaged thousands of survivors, volunteers, and medical providers. With a mantra of bringing big ideas to life, Ann focuses on identifying the compelling vision and then creating a goals-oriented plan for execution.
An in-demand national speaker for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Ann is the recipient of the Steuben Excellence in Teaching Award and has been named as a CASE Laureate. She is the author of the upcoming book: From Social Courage to Connection: Lessons from Leaders Who Change and Save Lives.
WID: How did a cancer diagnosis and treatment impact and shape your career?
Ann: This month I celebrate my fifteen-year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. I am not the same person I was before the diagnosis. Professionally, just weeks after my surgery, I volunteered to lead a cancer advocacy nonprofit and then served as their spokesperson and organizer for twelve years. In that capacity, I became bolder and braver than I ever had. Because I had been through cancer, I knew that the worst that could happen would be to hear the word “no.” So, I went for everything and almost always got it. Cancer gave me a different perspective on what really matters.
WID: What recommendations can you share for balancing career with personal health?
Ann: Covid and working from home has caused us to lose sight of our boundaries. The loss of connections and collaborative work environments created by pandemic isolation have taken a toll on mental and physical health. But the upside is that we are now asking ourselves what we will and won’t accept in our workplaces. I encourage you to think of this as an opportunity for a reset. Decide what you need to thrive professionally and personally and don’t relax your expectations. Remember: you are 100% your own best advocate.
WID: Has your consulting practice changed during Covid?
Ann: Prior to Covid, clients wanted advice and consultation about how to build engagement for their missions. Covid changed the questions. Beginning last year with complete shutdowns and continuing with our hybrid work world today, clients have needed support to retool their processes. Everything from how to gather people together virtually, conduct donor stewardship, or run a campaign in a post-Covid world is the emphasis. I don’t think we will ever again take for granted the “normal” pressures we felt before Covid altered the way we now do business.
WID: You spearheaded the creation of the WID Career Advisors Program earlier this year. What are your hopes for this initiative?
Ann: It has been rewarding to receive such positive feedback from advisors and advisees who signed up for our first Career Advisors Program. I am excited about our next iteration and hope many will participate. Advisees receive the extraordinary benefit of being matched with a senior WID member who will offer free, nonjudgmental, strategic advice. Advisors get the satisfaction of supporting talented WID members in their career journeys. What could be better?!