Anna María Chávez

President and CEO, Arizona Community Foundation

I am committed and motivated by the success of our team, and I have a deep sense of purpose to create positive changes in our community.

Why do you believe honoring achievement is important?

Acknowledging and celebrating accomplishments, especially for underrepresented leaders, boosts individual morale and plays a vital role empowering all leaders to overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential. Post-COVID, we need to continue to inspire and recognize achievements for those in our fast-paced and competitive nonprofit and business environment. 

The nonprofit sector plays an important role in supporting the community and the business community provides generous support for our nonprofits and community. Both are focused on addressing and investing in solutions for key issues facing our community, including housing/homelessness, health and education. Without us working together, the issues we face today would be significantly greater. Through achievement, recognition and collaboration, we can all support the community in a more powerful way, making Arizona a great place to work, live and play for all. 

What insights have you gained in your career that would inspire others?

When I was younger, I thought strong leaders showed strength by knowing everything and driving all positive business results. Today, I know that people are inspired by leaders who are humble and are secure enough to ask for help. Leadership is hard and sometimes looks unattainable, so it is our responsibility to show others, especially other women and girls, that if you work hard and build authentic relationships, you can be successful. 

Leadership comes in all forms and is developed through lived experiences. My number one piece of advice I provide all women and girls whom I mentor is that if you are not doing something that makes you uncomfortable every day, you are not growing as a person or a leader. Challenge yourself to grow and expand as a leader and look back at those who have helped you grow and thank them. They will appreciate the recognition. Through these ongoing communications and relationships, you will maintain strong authentic relationships that will be meaningful for both of you well into the future. 

What can we do — now — to make a difference for young people/women in Arizona?

Leading the Girl Scouts of the USA, I learned very quickly that there is no minimum age for leadership. Anyone who is passionate about an issue and wants to make the world a better place can dedicate their time and talents to accomplish these goals. I also learned that girls are watching all of us to decipher the secrets of leadership, so it’s important that we emulate the qualities that we want to pass on to the next generation — courage, accountability, empathy and passion to serve other people. 

I am a very active mentor to many women and girls and appreciate the opportunity to provide wisdom from the lessons I have learned throughout my career. There is nothing more rewarding than to see a young woman I have mentored become successful and happy in a leadership role. The most valuable gift I can give them is the gift of time and attention to their needs on their journey.

In A Few Words

  • What was the last course, certification or training you took to improve yourself professionally? Web3 — the future iteration of the internet based on decentralization and blockchain.
  • What would you say is a single characteristic OTHERS might attribute to you that defines your success? Resilience
  • What is the one thing you feel you could work on professionally to be a greater success? Communication
  • What is the one professional skill you have that has gotten you where you are today? Legal background
  • What is the single greatest issue facing Arizona today? Homelessness and housing

About Me

Anna María Chávez brings 25 years of experience in education, government, technology and nonprofit organizational leadership to her role as president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation. Born and raised in the small town of Eloy, Arizona, to Mexican American parents, she learned at an early age the importance of being a leader in her local community. Her desire to transform the world through servant leadership led her to Yale University, before pursuing a juris doctorate at the University of Arizona. 

Chávez held numerous posts in President Bill Clinton’s administration and later returned to Arizona to serve governors Jane Hull and Janet Napolitano. Her success led to her appointment as the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA and CEO of the National School Boards Association. In 2016, she was recognized as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune magazine and in 2021 was named one of the top 50 over 50 Women Leaders by Forbes magazine.

Anna María Chávez is president and CEO at Arizona Community Foundation.

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