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By Gail Straus
Our “Five Questions” series highlights the expertise and individuality of our member consultants. Members are interviewed by an ACN peer. We hope this series will reveal the breadth, depth, and overall expertise of our membership!
Bringing It Home
I’ve had the pleasure to meet Annisa Wanat just as she begins her latest adventure of transferring years of overseas experiences to the Chicago area nonprofit community. With fifteen years in community organizing and development, local governance strengthening, advocacy, coalition building, and organizational development, it takes only a few minutes with Annisa to see that her vision, passion, and global expertise will make her a successful partner to new or transitioning organizations dealing with the challenges of organizational development.
How did you get started in consulting?
Annisa Wanat has come home to Chicago after many years working abroad in countries such as Afghanistan and South Sudan. Her overseas experiences started in the Peace Corps, after which she spent much of her career fostering the development of nonprofits and governments agencies overseas. She helped organizations grow from small, unfocused groups to effective advocates for citizens’ concerns.
Annisa has recently returned to Chicago to help nonprofit organizations with the same end-to-end support, using her global expertise to develop local solutions. Annisa’s experience includes assisting with program design and management, developing organizational structures, capacity building, and assessing an organization’s advocacy culture – essentially, everything that new or transitioning organizations need to be successful.
What kinds of organizations would you like to support?
Similar to the organizations she worked with overseas, Annisa believes that her strengths would best be suited to organizations that are just starting out or are in the process of restructuring. They may need support in establishing or refining a strategic approach to programming, developing operational policies, managing new donors, acquiring skills to better empower staff and board, or revamping a fundraising strategy.
What is the best thing about a career in consulting?
Working with a variety of organizations on a range of issues makes consulting work interesting for Annisa. The diversity of issues and causes encountered as a consultant make life both challenging and stimulating. She is enjoying the consulting life in which no two days are just alike and she can set her own schedule.
What are the biggest challenges you anticipate as you transition to the nonprofit world in Chicago?
Commuting! Annisa hasn’t had more than a five-minute “commute” since 2005 so she is still adjusting to the time it takes to get places. Similar to what many of us encounter, she wonders if she will miss having a built-in work community and hopes that ACN can help fill that need.
Tell me about ACN and why you are a member?
In making the transition back to Chicago, Annisa considers her ACN membership as an opportunity to build a new community of colleagues. Professional development, networking and peer support are important benefits of membership as she establishes her consulting practice in her hometown.
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