A Warm Welcome to Ann McMikel

On May 3, 2021, Ann McMikel officially joined Shared Interest as its new Executive Director. The board and staff of Shared Interest are thrilled to welcome her to the family – and to introduce her to our donors, investors, and partners.

Originally from the southside of Chicago, Ann was personally drawn to Shared Interest’s mission, in part, because of her own experience. “When I learned about the work of Shared Interest,” she said, “I could immediately relate to the economic and racial barriers it is trying to dismantle that keep too many communities of color from realizing their full potential as business owners and corporate leaders.”

With a multi-decade career in the not-for-profit space, Ann has led work building the capacity of marginalized communities in Africa, eliminating racial disparities in healthcare and economic systems, and helping disenfranchised individuals find their voices as leaders and advocates for themselves and their communities. She has been inspired by the power of civil society and women-led movements – and their potential to save lives and reduce human suffering, She is excited to bring her passion to the work of Shared Interest and to build on the organization’s strong legacy in Southern Africa, a a region of the world where she has worked for more than 10 years.

In South and Southern Africa, Ann collaborated with a powerful network of global partners and more than 50 African NGOs, as well as the First Ladies of South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia, to make cancer a global development priority. Travelling to South Africa opened her eyes to the beauty of the country and the power of its rich culture and diverse people to bring about grassroots change. It also exposed her to the anti-Apartheid activism that informed the tobacco control and human rights work of leaders like Patricia Lambert and Yussuf Saloojee, who played critical roles in using divestment as a tool to fight the tobacco industry. Ann was proud to work with Africa’s leading cancer and tobacco control activists who greatly contributed to a significant public health milestone in 2015, when the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted and, for the first time in history, recognized that non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer, constituted a major health and development challenge.

Ann has big plans for Shared Interest. When asked about her first priorities, she said, “I’m excited to work with the staff and board to develop a Covid-19 strategy and anti-racism initiative that will allow us to work with a more diverse range of partners to address the economic and racial disparities that have been exacerbated by the Covid 19 pandemic. I look forward to building on the critical leadership role that Shared Interest can play in contributing to a post-pandemic recovery that focuses on climate, food security, social enterprise development and women-led economic initiatives on the ground in Southern Africa.” In addition, Ann is determined to “pay forward” the mentorship and leadership development opportunities she has benefitted from throughout her career by establishing a “safe and brave space” in which individuals are empowered to step out of their comfort zones and create innovative solutions that advance human rights and economic justice.

Although inspired by and passionate about her work, Ann is also dedicated to her family – and to her practice of self-care. “I didn’t learn until much later in life how important self-care is for my emotional health,” she explains. “Now I’m unapologetic about making this a priority not just for me but for women of color like me everywhere.”

Shared Interest is so grateful to have welcomed Ann on board, and we look forward to introducing her to many of you virtually – and eventually in person.