Dr. Anna Carollo Cross, Executive Director


March 2016

MWNN is pleased to introduce you to Anna Carollo Cross, Ed.D, our first Executive Director!

Dr. Cross, a Framingham resident, comes to MWNN with more than 30 years of community and leadership experience.  From the very beginning of her career, Dr. Cross has helped others, focusing on education and young people.

Her first job was as a high school guidance counselor, which then led to a period directing early adolescent programs at Boston’s Children’s Museum. For 22 years, Dr. Cross directed various community initiatives through the Framingham Public Schools.

Highlights from that time include:

  • Pioneering the School Choice Program, focused on providing community-wide school access for all students
  • Creating the Parent Information Center, which serves as the first point of entry for parents, creating a welcoming and supportive environment for all families regarding student enrollment, participation, and success in the public school system
  • Helping to launch the Early Childhood Alliance of Framingham dedicated to promoting and supporting the healthy growth of children from prenatal to age 8 by strengthening families and advocating for high-quality learning experiences.

In 2014, she received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Boston College.

A Conversation with Anna

February 2016 –  Trish Appert, MWNN Board Chair, and Marisa Rowe, MWNN Board Member sat down with Anna to find out more. Over steaming plates of Vietnamese noodles, we peppered her with questions.

“What appealed to you about this opportunity?” was the first question.

She responded: “What’s not to love about this job? It brings the best of everything and everyone together to solve incredible challenges. The fact that they are solving them with compassion, integrity, and passion is something so close to my own core that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The chance to work with people who are curious and committed to improving the world we live in is a gift none of us should ever take for granted.”

We wanted to know what she hopes to accomplish in this new role.

“I hope we are able to grow the organization into one that becomes the premier resource for nonprofit leadership development. I can’t think of many things that are more important to an organization than the quality of the leadership that drives the mission and vision. I think MWNN has a responsibility to help grow the next generation of leaders and I hope I can play a part in that process.”

Anna shared her hopes of learning about the wonderfully varied work done by those in the nonprofit sector and finding out how she can be a voice for the community. She promised to “emphasize the importance of forming relationships and connecting people who share common goals.” She said she will “bring 100% of everything I have in my 30-year toolbox fully expecting that I am going to pick up a few more tools along the way from the master craftsman who have come before me!”

We asked “What do you care about?” and she replied: “Community, helping people lean in the direction of their better angels, stretching the boundaries of what’s possible, keeping a perspective on what’s important.”

When asked “What is your personal philosophy?” Anna said the following: “Tell the truth, give it your best, remember you’re just one piece in a very big puzzle, try to knock the pins down one at a time every day, and say thank you to the person who sets them all up again.”

And finally, we couldn’t help asking: “What advice did you NOT take?” Anna laughed and answered “Oh, this is easy: ‘Are you sure you want to marry this guy?’ Thirty-seven years later the answer is still yes and he still makes me laugh every day.”