There are people in this world who are born givers. They give of their time, they give of their money, they give of their thought leadership and influence. People like this have a defining effect on the world. Anna Bard is one of those people.
Anna is “Tar Heel born and bred,” having lived in all three regions of North Carolina. When Anna was 8 and her brother was 4, the family moved to Southport, NC which quickly became her “hometown.” Southport was a community that valued family and raising kids in a nurturing environment. Anna and her brother went to small public schools, where her mother taught and her father was involved in real estate and local nonprofits. The kids were raised to act with integrity, value community, and spend as much time as possible on the water. That was easy to do in a beach town that was sleepy in the winter and hopping in the summer. Anna loved the beach all of the activities it had to offer, especially waterskiing. As a teenager, she worked summers at an ice cream shop which doubled as the high school hang out. She learned that you need to work first and play later…but combining the two is best.
As a smart kid in a small school, Anna tried not to stand out in a way that would bring negative attention from her peers. While she loved some parts of her hometown, she was ready to leave and determined to get the grades and extracurriculars to do so. Her efforts paved the way for an incredible academic future. Anna attended UNC-Chapel Hill and majored in psychology. Even as a child, she was the one who friends wanted to share their successes and failures with, the one whose advice seemed to matter most to those in need of support. She figured a psych degree would help her make a career of that advice, or at least help her navigate the world more mindfully.
After graduation, she moved to Edinburgh, Scotland where she worked for an insurance company and got to see a bit of the world. Upon her return to the States, she moved to Charlotte, NC, and started working at the local Red Cross. At the Red Cross, she wore many hats. She recruited volunteers, led a summer camp and advised college Red Cross Clubs. She was at the Red Cross on 9/11 and was involved in the local response to that tragedy.
Just as Anna was preparing to go back to school to get a Master’s in counseling, a devastating ice storm hit Charlotte and the Red Cross set up shelters for everyone affected. Anna was called to be a part of the team at one of those shelters. As she was working 18-hour shifts, moving heaven and earth to meet people’s most basic needs, she started to think that a career in counseling wasn’t for her, and that, perhaps, there was a way to still help others without the stressful demands of direct service. With some delicate nudging from her dad and a few close friends, Anna began to consider business school.
Anna never believed that numbers were her strong suit, but problem-solving and strategizing are most definitely within her wheelhouse. She knew that to be a successful non-profit manager she needed to first understand how to run a business. So Anna attended the McColl Graduate School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte with the help of a fellowship. While still working at the Red Cross and pursuing her MBA, Anna spoke with a classmate who encouraged her to apply for a job doing International Cash Management in Wachovia’s Investment Bank, even though she knew nothing about banks beyond cashing a check. She got the job. She discovered that her career would be determined less by what she already knew than her willingness to learn and maintain a positive attitude.
She later transitioned into Wachovia’s Community Affairs department, which satisfied her desire to stay connected to her nonprofit roots. She learned the importance of relationships and not volunteering at someone or presuming that you know what they need. Anna’s manager encouraged her to own being a woman in business, to never let anyone take away her power, even if she felt like she was “faking it until she made it”. She would make it, she was told, as long as she worked hard and believed that she could. And she did.
Wachovia was bought by Wells Fargo in 2008 and Anna had another supportive manager who suggested she look at an opening to manage Community Affairs in the Mid-Atlantic. Taking a risk was the only way she would be able to grow and learn more. Again, he saw her potential and gave a kind nudge. She became Wells Fargo’s Senior Vice President of Community Affairs for MD, VA, and DC – a position she still holds today.
Anna sold her house, packed up her dog and moved to DC. She brought hands-on experience, an understanding of the nonprofit sector, a willingness to listen and a desire to build relationships up, down and outside of the company. Since 2009 she’s used those skills to become known as a leader in the philanthropic community. Anna and her team oversee a $9 million philanthropic budget, and although Wells Fargo’s focus areas are extremely broad, Anna loves learning about organizations that help students reach their greatest potential. She’s all about scaling proven interventions, providing access to the vibrant cultural sector, and providing tools to people who may need a second or third chance. Anna values her community of philanthropists and is a member of Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, as well as its former Treasurer of the Board. She’s also a proud Board Member of DC Central Kitchen.
Her move to DC also set her in motion to cross paths with Dave Bard, now her kind and ever-supportive husband, and they have two sons who are her first priority. She’s grateful to work for a company where creating and maintaining that balance is possible.
Through all of her professional successes, though, what’s mattered most to Anna is not the recognition she receives, but empowering others to do the hard work they do all day, every day, both in the public eye and out of it. Community leaders don’t always hold the bullhorn. They often move in smaller, more private circles, working on a very micro level to make the world a better place. Raising conscientious children. Tutoring. Organizing. She believes that every contribution makes a difference and that none of those should ever be viewed as small. Anna believes that women need to learn to embrace the importance of their roles at home and in the world, own their influence, and surround themselves with other women who support their vision for all that’s possible.