“For me, it is like coming home.”
It is quite rare for someone to begin a new position with as many professional and personal connections in place as Anne McKenna had when she took on the role of Executive Director of the St. John’s Foundation last month. Those deep ties to the St. John’s community and the people who live and work here have helped shape her approach to leading fundraising efforts. Anne has a unique understanding of what is important to the many types of stakeholders the Foundation serves.
As a former employee, Anne has the benefit of coming into her new role with existing relationships in place. Anne served as the Marketing and Development Coordinator at St. John’s from 1996 until 2007, and it is not surprising that as she returns to an organization known for the longevity of its workforce, several of the staff members she worked with in the past are still working here. This includes most of the Meadows sales staff that Anne was involved in hiring. “That was a really exciting time to be here,” says Anne. “We were opening St. John’s Meadows, and I was actually hired to do the initial marketing and pre-leasing.” As a result, Anne also worked closely with many of the first residents who moved to Meadows. A number of those residents still remain at the Meadows after nearly two decades and Anne is excited to reconnect with them.
As the daughter of a former elder at St. John’s Home, Anne brings the perspective of an engaged family member. Soon after Anne left St. John’s to take on the role of Director of Development and Communications at East House, her mother came to St. John’s Home after a brief stay at the Meadows. “I had moved to another job but I was still here twice a week to visit,” remembers Anne. She has great memories of spending time with her mom during the summer concert series and cocktail parties, but also remembers the range of emotions she experienced during her mother’s six years living at St. John’s Home. Anne’s Aunt, Frances Barone, now resides in the St. John’s Green House homes in Penfield.
As an early fundraiser at St. John’s, Anne can appreciate how far the Foundation has come. “At the time, the Foundation was fairly new, and the fundraising program was not as extensive as it is now,” she says of her first stint, although she did contribute to the St. John’s Golf Tournament and other campaign activities. In her decade away, Anne gained valuable experience – first at East House, then at St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center where she led fundraising efforts. Over the last decade, the St. John’s Foundation has taken on more importance in the success of the organization. Anne understands the critical role her team will play in continuing to generate funds for the ongoing Small Homes project at St. John’s Home.
As a longtime resident of the Highland Park neighborhood, Anne understands how valuable the St. John’s is to the community. “I worked here for 11 years, but I also lived right around the corner on Furman Crescent,” says Anne. “I have a real affection for the neighborhood, Highland Park, and for St. John’s Home. It is historic. It has been at this location for over 100 years and has supported people who have lived in the neighborhood for a long time.”
As she returns to take on the challenge of heading the St. John’s Foundation, Anne realizes that she was never that far removed from the organization she helped shape for over a decade. Her position calls for a person who is passionate about the role St. John’s will play in providing for the changing needs of elders in the decades to come. For her part, Anne’s passion for St. John’s and the road ahead is palpable. “I have always really loved it here . . . and I am excited about what’s to come.”