Ann Wheatley Canela is Vice President at Global Impact — a nonprofit organization that provides public and private donors with effective ways to give to causes, regions, and crises throughout the world.
With the expertise and efficiency of professionals like Ann, Global Impact helps ensure that charitable gifts are put to work to help others.
Global Impact has generated more than $1.7 billion for people in need since its founding.
Below is a Q&A with Ann about the motivations and ambitions behind her work.
Tell us a little bit about your history prior to working for Global Impact — how did your previous experiences prepare you for this journey?
As a pastor’s daughter, both of my parents were actively engaged in civil service and I was raised with the knowledge that you could have a calling in your life – a job that engaged your passions and your expertise. My father and mother were incredible role models and are both often the voice for the voiceless. They instilled in me a desire to help people, to right injustices and to fight for those who could not otherwise fight on their own. Their constant and unwavering determination to change the world one person at a time is the foundation of who I am today.
I started my career at the intersection of large lifestyle brands and community relationships. During that time in my career, I had the opportunity to see how important community relationships were to brands entering a market and how the private sector can drive improvements in the world. Now as Vice President at Global Impact, I am able to help shape and drive the strategies that both corporates and NGOs use to make the world a better place.
What motivated you to get involved with a nonprofit instead of a conventional business?
I had my own public relations agency for years and Global Impact was actually my client. My career up to that point had been advising corporations on how to engage with the community, but I was intrigued with the opportunity to bring all that I had learned to both sectors. By using my marketing and visibility skills rooted in the private sector, I can help transform individuals and connect them to the work being done to address issues like clean water, disaster relief and education.
What are you hoping to achieve with your work at Global Impact?
At the core of our work, there are many different actors all coming around some of the world’s most pressing needs. At Global Impact, it is my hope to align and transform leaders in both the public and nonprofit sectors by using data and creating the strategies, products and tools that provide strategic onramps to philanthropy. When donors, either public or private, can be mindful and plan in their giving, the impact of their work grows and they are transformed. When donors are transformed and inspired, vulnerable people all over the world receive the help they need in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
What are some of the most challenging obstacles you have had to face in pursuit of your goals?
We are at a critical juncture in the world. Politics have shifted the landscape, major government donors are shifting strategies and the world is focused on the Sustainable Development Goals for Global Development. In a world that is increasingly cacophonous, it is a challenge to demonstrate how one person can make an impact.
What advice would you give to people who are eager to make a social impact but don’t know where to begin?
Start with your passion. Begin with what you have to offer and then see how that connects to the broader world. As the sign on my office wall says, “The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.”
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