Anna Maria Chávez
At a glance:As one of the world's top experts on women's leadership, youth development, and aging, Anna Maria Chávez is a dedicated advocate for helping others across every stage of life.
As one of the world’s top experts on women’s leadership, youth development, and aging, Anna Maria Chávez is a dedicated advocate for helping others across every stage of life. With 25 years of public service and non-profit leadership experience, Chávez is passionate about teaching the value of teamwork, inclusion and diversity, resiliency, strong leadership and self-motivation. Her keen insights and dynamic presentations have inspired thousands of individuals and organizations to lead authentically, work more collaboratively, and create dynamic impact.
Chávez was named one of FORTUNE’s World’s Greatest Leaders (2016) and honored as one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company (2014). And in 2021, she was named one of the top 50 Over 50 Women leaders by Forbes Magazine. She has been inducted into the U.S. News & World Report’s STEM Leadership Hall of Fame. Recognized for her work supporting and empowering Hispanic communities, Chávez was the recipient of the 2013 Excellence in Community Service Award from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, as well as the 2013 Graciela Olivarez La Raza Award from UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza). She is also a member of the National Board of Directors for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
In April 2017, Chávez joined the National Council on Aging (NCOA), our nation’s oldest advocacy organization dedicated to helping Americans navigate the challenges of aging, as their chief strategy officer and senior vice president of external affairs. Less than a year later, Chávez was promoted to the leadership role of NCOA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer where she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of NCOA and led the national team in advancing the organization’s mission to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. She was ultimately appointed to serve as NCOA’s Interim President and Chief Executive Officer.
On June 1, 2020, Chávez became the Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and served as an ex-officio director on its Board of Directors.
Then in July 2021, Encantos, the storyteaching platform connecting creators with kids to inspire them to learn 21st-century skills, appointed Chávez to the newly created position of Chief Impact Officer (CIO). As CIO, Anna María will develop, lead and implement Encantos’ impact strategy and initiatives including strategic partnerships, corporate and public affairs, and community impact activities. In addition, Chávez will become the President of Encantos.org, a new non-profit focused on advancing the understanding of the importance of 21st-century learning, literacy, and life skills for children through the development of research, programs, and fellowships.
Chávez brings over 25 years of extensive experience in education, government and non-profit organizational leadership and management, including growing businesses, building corporate and non-profit partnerships, and advocating for children and under-served populations with federal and state legislators.
From 2011-16, Chávez was the first woman of color to lead the iconic Girl Scouts of the USA, where she helped bring the 104-year-old institution into the future with an historic girl-centric organizational redesign. Additionally, she instilled a focus on teaching girls about technology and social entrepreneurship, including adding new badges in fields like financial literacy and STEM education.
Chávez’s personal experiences growing up in rural Arizona drove the passion for the public service and social engagement that have defined her educational and career paths. It was these interests in serving others which brought her first to Washington D.C., where she held numerous posts in President Clinton’s administration, including senior policy advisor to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater and Small Business Administration Administrator Aida Alvarez. Chávez later returned to Arizona to serve as deputy chief of staff for urban relations and community development under Governor Janet Napolitano. In that role, she launched the governor’s Aging 2020 initiative and created the Arizona Division of Aging and Adult Services.
Lauded for her leadership, Anna received the 2013 Law College Association Award and a 2014 honorary Doctors of Laws degree from her law school alma mater, the University of Arizona. She has been recognized as one of the 100 Women Leaders in STEM by STEMconnector and in 2016, Anna was inducted into the U.S. News & World Report’s STEM Leadership Hall of Fame.
Chavez has appeared on top national news outlets including CBS News, NBC’s The Today Show, FOX News Channel, CNBC, CNN, and NPR.
Chávez earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a juris doctorate at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. She has been admitted to the Bar of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gender Equality - Why does it matter?Do you feel that? That's the cultural shift that's happening because women are creating modern-day movements towards real change now. And it's a real necessity, because when you look at the latest statistics, we still have a long way to go. Today, just 57 percent of the world's working-age women are in the labor force, compared to 70 percent of working-age men. Women with full-time jobs still earn only about 77 percent of their male counterparts' earnings. And 62 million girls are denied an education all over the world. While women have made important inroads into political office across the world, their representation in national parliaments at 23.7 per cent is still far from parity. Let’s discuss why we, as a country and as global citizens, must change these statistics.
Lead like a Girl Scout – Lessons for Everyday LeadershipWhen she was appointed as the first woman of color to lead the Girl Scouts of the USA, the organization was experiencing serious membership decline and lack of relevancy. But with determination and grit, Anna led the Girl Scouts to become one of the top 10 most innovative nonprofits in the world, and Chávez earned recognition as one of the top 50 world leaders. Anna shares her experiences and lessons learned leading a 100-year-old legacy organization into a new century and practical advice for anyone interested in leading in these turbulent and exciting times.
Women and LeadershipThanks to the “Year of the Woman” in 2018, we saw more women run for political office and make a prominent mark on our political dialogue. But, despite the promising progress that’s been made thus far, there’s still significant work to be done. Let’s discuss how we can support more women to take on leadership roles in their community, in their jobs and in politics and how gender affects every organization, every community, and every legislative battle.
Fail and fail spectacularly, because if you don’t fail, you’re not innovatingAnna Maria Chavez has experienced the highs and lows of leadership. As the first women of color in many roles in her career, she has led a national conversation about women and the need to invest in equity and inclusion in our society. Recounting her personal narrative and lessons learned in this compelling and dynamic presentation, Anna also weaves in stories of other accomplished women who have overcome roadblocks and forged new paths—women who have similarly learned to live an authentic life by taking risks, failing and picking themselves up to inspire others to do the same. Offering tools to improve resiliency and self-awareness to tackle new opportunities, Anna inspires and energizes audience members to pursue their passion and help reshape the future our country.
The Economic Impact of Investing in Women and GirlsThrough her own experience growing up as a girl of color in a low-income family, Anna knows what it’s like to face personal, cultural and economic challenges. And she recognizes how difficult it is for today’s girls to feel confident enough to imagine their future, as they encounter everything from social-media-driven peer-pressure, to societal constructs that subtly and overtly question their worth. Unfortunately, girls and women turn down power and do not self-Identify as leaders – even when in a leadership position – and are less likely to positively recognize other female leaders. The current 14-billion-dollar leadership-training industry is failing to produce quality leaders across sectors. So it’s no wonder that 86% of people believe we are facing a leadership crisis. But Anna has some solutions to redefine the image of a successful leader and how to change the leadership pipeline in this country.
Leading Transformational Change– Secrets of successful leadersAs we move forward into a new decade, everyone will be confronted with opportunities to lead transformational change for ourselves and our organizations. We will also have to take on a more concerted effort to inspire leadership at all levels of organizations and communities. For all stakeholders to believe that change is necessary, we must show the urgency for change and why change is necessary.
But people don’t follow taglines or winning proposition statements. They follow leaders who walk the talk and inspire the behavioral change that is necessary. In order to assist you in leading this transformational change, Anna has assembled powerful insights for anyone who wants to be successful in leading and thriving in their lives.
I just wanted to thank you for suggesting Anna Maria Chavez to us. She was such a great fit and a wonderful speaker. I enjoyed working with her so much and we are already getting great responses to her remarks.
— Emily J. Shields, Executive Director, IACCT