In this capacity she runs the day-to-day operations of our investment team, responsible for managing $6 billion in client assets. Ann began her career in the financial industry with a strategic growth role at D. E. Shaw, eventually becoming Chief of Staff to the COO, which gave her a front-row seat to the Financial Crisis of 2008. She resonated with the intensity of the job and the real-time feedback loop that felt much different from her earlier roles in academia. Ann is passionate about smashing the patriarchy and hopes that one day, Women’s History Month and its purpose of bringing attention to gender inequality, will be unnecessary.
What is your overall view of the presence and status of women in the industry?
Women are really underrepresented. I think diversity within the industry is one dimension where we are clearly lacking. However, one of the things that I love about Freestone, in particular, is that when you look at our leadership team, you will see a lot of women. We are members of the management committee, we have a female CFO and partner advisor and our head of Human Resources is a woman. I think fostering an inclusive work environment is a really important part of all of our efforts. We have found ways to build formal and informal employee-organized groups to develop relationships and help foster a community for women. I feel really privileged to have a hand in shaping that part of our culture.
What advice would you give to other women trying to break into the field?
It is important to be curious, to ask a lot of questions and learn as much as you can from whomever you can. But the one piece of advice I give over and over: anticipate the needs of your stakeholders. If you can anticipate what the person on the other side of the table needs, what questions they need answered, and provide that before they even ask for it, you’re going to have a lot of success.
Who is a woman who most inspires you and why?
In a month where we celebrate the historical achievements of women, I don’t have to look much farther than my grandmother, Jean Connelly. She was a television pioneer with a 40-year broadcast career, including a long-running hit television talk show that began in Pittsburgh, where I grew up. At a time when most women were relegated to the kitchen, Jean was writing, producing, and hosting more than 5,000 episodes of The Jean Connelly Show. She received AFTRA's first Outstanding Woman in Broadcasting award in 1967 and was inducted into the Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. She recently passed away at 97, but her example of breaking barriers and making history as a woman serves as a constant inspiration in my life.