WLC Spotlight: Annie Burton

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Annie Burton is Executive Director of School and Community Engagement at the University of North Carolina Asheville. She's also a member of Women's Leadership Council, a network of passionate and influential women focused on supporting the Middle School Success initiative. We get to know her a little better in this month's WLC Spotlight.

What is your background? "I grew up in Boston, attended Harvard University and spent 12 years working at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University in the faculty of Arts & Sciences. I spent time in Baltimore and Durham before moving to Asheville in July 2013 and am currently the Director of School and Community Engagement at UNC Asheville."

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned during your career? “I learned early on that it is important to be true to who you are.”

What is your favorite quote or motto? “I include a quote from Winston Churchill as part of my signature: 'Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.'"

How did you get involved with United Way? "I have been involved with United Way for many years and support United Way because I know the dollars are going to good use. I have confidence in United Way and believe the organization understand the needs of the community. I appreciate that United Way vets programs available in the community and requires the agencies they fund to provide measureable outcomes.”

When did you join WLC and why? "Being involved in WLC is a way to give back while having fun. I have seen firsthand the power of women to get things done. Just before a recent event at UNC Asheville, I saw all that women can do. The University wanted to provide books for students participating in the Middle School Arts in Education Celebration and WLC members raised nearly $1,000 to purchase the books in a matter of hours."

What is the best advice you have ever gotten? "A professor at Harvard shared a quote by Frances Bacon with me: 'Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom' and under his guidance, I learned to listen—both with my heart and with my head. In my job, I work with a lot of different people and have worked to develop a heightened sense of listening and to greater understanding of different perspectives."

What qualities do you most admire in business professionals? “Those who understand the need for civic engagement and are willing to make a commitment to being part of the social, cultural and economic fabric of the community.”

Which qualities do you dislike? "Those who are insecure, shallow and potentially threatened by those who are catalysts for cultural shifts and ambitious to make an immediate difference in the community (rather than joining in to help)—community work is a collaborative process—and those who have a 'not my problem' attitude."

What is the best advice you can offer to young women and young men as they start their careers? “Lee Iacocca said to ‘begin with the end in mind.’ I've followed this same advice in my own career. Think about what you want to accomplish and then determine what steps are needed to get there.”

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? “I'd like to have dinner with Mother Teresa and learn what it takes to live like she did—to make the ultimate sacrifice, to live with compassion and selflessness. I would also choose to have dinner with Sun Tzu, the ultimate strategic planner. He understood what it took to accomplish goals and to succeed and much of his thinking has been re-purposed for leadership development.”

What are your top three networking tips?
"1) Check out your community calendars and get to a lot of events
2) Become engaged in the community
3) Grow your network"

Each month, we shine a spotlight on a member of Women's Leadership Council. If you are interested in being highlighted, please contact Elizabeth.Allen@UnitedWayABC.org or call (828) 239-1048.

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