August 28, 2019

Waving Goodbye to Ann Casey

Ann Casey practices for retirement

Today we wave goodbye to Ann Casey, MCF’s incomparable Vice President of Finance and Operations, who is retiring after 20 years at MCF. Before she set off to start her next adventure, Ann was kind enough to share some thoughts with us.

Is there anything you miss from your early days?
It used to be that whenever we hired a new person, they had to make a brunch for everyone. People really got into it, with themes and decorations. My brunch theme was Chinese New Year. My daughter and I came in the night before to hang up a big dragon and Chinese lanterns. I made some of the food and picked up the rest from a Chinese restaurant we liked. It was so fun. But it turned out that we had an attorney coming in later that morning to negotiate a very large gift, so we had to quickly jump up after eating and take everything down.

What is your favorite memory of working at MCF?
It might be the beginning of the Great Performance campaign. Pleasant Rowland called all the arts organizations together to announce the challenge gift, and Kathleen went to the meeting. She came back to the office and said, “I told you something big would happen someday, and we just needed to be ready for it.” We had been working for a while to develop MCF so that we would be ready to handle significant growth. And this was it.

You’ve seen MCF make so many grants – do you have a favorite?
The splash pads. We funded some of the earliest splash pads in the region. It was before the Goodman pool was built, and the city was struggling to figure out where a city pool could go. Pools are expensive and need a lot of staff, and many kids don’t know how to swim – so the idea of these splash pads, which are less expensive and are more accessible, was such a cool idea. Whenever we would drive by one I would say to my kids, “Oh there’s the splash pad we helped build.”

Driving around town and seeing things that the MCF has had a hand in, all those great things in the community, that’s so powerful and it’s so rewarding to feel a part of it.

Do you have a favorite donor story you could share?
When the Cross Plains library was doing their capital campaign, there was an older lady who was a big supporter of that community. Her son called me and said, “My mother wants to give to the library. She has all this stock that I handle for her, and I want you to take if off my hands. But it’s all or nothing – some of it is probably worth almost nothing, but you have to take it all.”

Of course we were willing to take it, so he gave me this big banker’s box of stock certificates and dividend statements. I spent days going through all the paperwork, re-registering the stock in MCF’s name and determining how much it was worth. It was a fun gift to get and to work with.

What have you learned about Madison through your work at MCF?
My appreciation and understanding of Madison has grown. There are families and people who have been here for generations. And there are lots of people who arrived much more recently, who didn’t grow up here. But all those people are part of the fabric of the community and its strength.

I’ve also come to believe very deeply that there are two Madisons: There are all these assets that help us win surveys for “The Best Place to …” But there are a lot of people who don’t experience the “best of,” either because they aren’t able to or don’t feel comfortable accessing these things. It’s just become so much clearer to me over time, and it’s something that we continue to work on.

What are your plans for retirement?
I’m going to spend more time taking care of my home and family, and getting more active with boards and volunteer things that I’m already involved in. I’m really looking forward to doing more hands-on volunteering, rather than just being on committees.

When you started, did you think you would still be here 20 years later?
I’m not surprised. When we were younger, Rob and I talked about early retirement, maybe age 50. And then I got here, and it was the perfect job for me. It’s been a great fit for my talents and abilities, it feeds my interests and my spirit, and it has helped me feel so connected to this community. I knew I could be here for a long time.