Professional Resource

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BOARD MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Anne Pleshette-Murphy

Matthew and his amazing staff were also a source of inspiration and strength throughout my board tenure. It was an honor to work with all of them and to witness the intelligence, tenacity, energy, and passion they brought to ZERO TO THREE every day.

Editor’s Note: We’ve invited ZERO TO THREE Board Member Anne Pleshette-Murphy, better known as Annie, to share her perspectives and reflections with you, our members. Annie will be going off the board in October after more than 20 years of service to ZERO TO THREE, so this is a fitting opportunity to see the organization from her vantage point. You can learn more about Annie on her bio page on the website.

What has it meant to you to a be a member of ZERO TO THREE’s Board of Directors?

My 20-plus years on ZERO TO THREE’s board have been motivating and intimidating, thrilling and challenging, awe-inspiring and frustrating, gratifying and tiring—but never, ever dull! Like all developmental arcs, mine began with baby steps and the distinct feeling that I should be sitting at the “children’s table.” In fact, when I think back to my very first board meeting, I picture us seated at an enormous table; I’m sure it was far smaller than the one we now gather around, but I felt dwarfed and humbled by the giants around me.

Having been in journalism most of my career, I also spoke a very different language. Words like “marketing” and “the ZERO TO THREE brand” and “promotion” were often met with a stunned silence. But even when we disagreed, having colleagues with easily 400 years of collective experience listening to their students, patients, clients, and fellow academics guaranteed conversations that were deep and thoughtful and constructive.

Matthew and his amazing staff were also a source of inspiration and strength throughout my board tenure. It was an honor to work with all of them and to witness the intelligence, tenacity, energy, and passion they brought to ZERO TO THREE every day.

By the time I chaired my first board meeting, sharing a common language was no longer an issue. Together we had written several strategic plans, wrestled with dramatic changes, weathered difficult financial times, and celebrated incredible achievements. We had said good-bye to or lost many wonderful members of the board and welcomed diverse and multitalented newcomers. And we had witnessed a dramatic shift in the national consciousness: Our messages were definitely getting through!

The organization had grown and accomplished so much by the time I became board president; I was incredibly proud to follow in the footsteps of my many outstanding predecessors. I came to the meeting room excited and nervous to sit in the chair’s seat, only to discover that the hotel had set up a conference table the size of Argentina! But only the table itself made me feel small: The familiar faces around that table—the smiling faces of so many colleagues I had grown to admire and love—made me feel 20 feet tall!

What is happening at ZERO TO THREE right now that you are most excited about?

When I joined ZERO TO THREE, I discovered very quickly that the organization was rich in content and research and programs, but that we desperately needed strategies for getting our messages and products out to more people. When Cheryl Polk passed me the gavel, she said, “Decide now what three things you want to achieve during your tenure as president.” One of my goals was to clarify and build the organization’s brand, to boost our presence in the media, to extend our reach beyond the professional audience that was our primary constituency when I joined. The work we did a few years ago to define our brand and brand messaging, the redesign/relaunch of the website, and the creation of a strong, professional communications team are SO exciting. I know that the work Ernestine and her staff are already doing will have a profound impact on everything from development to policy work to building our membership to educating millions of Americans in the importance of the first 3 years.

I also think that HealthySteps is one of the most important and inspiring programs we have ever undertaken. The scale of the work, the meticulous way in which the staff is setting and reaching their very ambitious goals, the level of funding we received, all speak to a level of professionalism and expertise within the organization that I never imagined would be possible 20 years ago.

And our policy work—especially the amazing Strolling ThunderTM events and ThinkBabies campaign—has put us on the map in new and exciting ways. When Matthew says that “we can make this the Decade of the Baby,” I think he’s right.

What is something that ZERO TO THREE members, staff, and even other Board Members might be surprised to know about you?

I play a mean game of Poker!

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