Anne Reed

Transforming Government, Transforming the World

Most kids want to spend their summers sleeping late, heading for the nearest cool body of water, and generally not doing anything during their long-awaited break. Anne Reed wasn’t one of them.

“I started volunteering with the Red Cross when I was 12 years old and was probably  the youngest ever recipient of a five-year pin!” she laughs. A lot of the people Anne worked with during her summers were seniors. “I think there is a natural affinity between the elderly and young people,” says Anne. “I got to do arts and crafts with them. It wasn’t work. It was fun. ”

Both of Anne’s parents were actively engaged in contributing to their Nashville community. Her mother, who worked at home, was a dedicated volunteer. Her father, a college professor, participated in a march in Nashville, TN organized by supporters of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Because of her parents’ example and encouragement, Anne developed a strong desire to make things better. “Service just became a part of who I was,” she remarks.

These family values were the underpinnings of Anne’s incredible career journey, which links the sectors of government, education, information technology, and global business. “The one thing that defines my career throughout, is a belief in public service and doing good,” Anne confirms.

Now, as the Chief Executive Officer of ASI Government, she is perfectly suited to guide this preeminent research, consulting and training firm that supports over 70 government agencies in using performance based acquisition strategies and best practices. The pathway to becoming the CEO of a multi-million dollar business may have sometimes seemed random to Reed, but from the very beginning she often found herself at that much-quoted juncture where luck meets opportunity and preparedness.

Anne’s interest in government was fueled while attending Goucher College in Baltimore. She accepted an internship in the Baltimore City Planning Office and after graduation, applied for a position in the Nashville City Planning Office. While waiting for her desired job to open up, she worked at Vanderbilt University in Alumni Development for their business school. When the city planning job became available, Anne spent several years there getting her feet wet and honing her skills.

About that time, Anne also got married, and when her new husband was accepted into Harvard Law School, they moved to Boston. Not finding any city planning opportunities, Anne applied for work at Harvard. During the interview she was told “you’re really not qualified because you can’t type”. However, one assistant dean was desperate for help and Anne was sent off to interview. Ira Jackson was the Assistant Dean at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government who hired the assistant who “couldn’t type.”

“It was total random chance, but could not have been better suited for me because of my passion for service,” Anne recalls. It may have been luck, but they also recognized her leadership capacity. A year later, Anne was promoted to Registrar and Admissions Officer of the School. While working at Harvard, Anne studied for and received her Master’s in Public Administration.

With Anne’s interest in public service and her husbands’ interest in a legal career, they decided to move to Washington, DC. Anne was accepted into the federal government’s Presidential Management Intern Program, for recent graduates. It consisted of two years of rotations before interns choose a job track.

“It would have been logical for me to go into the Department of Education,” reflects Anne. But that year Ronald Reagan was elected on a platform of abolishing the Department of Education and Anne ended up with the Naval Sea Systems Command in the Department of the Navy in their Office of The Comptroller. “I knew I had a lot to learn in order to be effective,” says Anne. She was there for 12 years, promoted all the way up.

But providence was charting a new course for Anne. When former President Bill Clinton was elected, she was offered a political appointment as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Administration for the Agriculture Department. Anne accepted the challenge and once there, went on to become the agency’s first Chief Information Officer.

“Being a civil servant in the Navy is a very different from being a political appointee,” reminds Anne. But these variances taught her to adapt to vastly different management circumstances, which serves her well in her current role at ASI.

After the term of the political appointment ended, Anne was hired by Electronic Data Systems (EDS) as part of the Global Government Group. “That was fascinating. I met CIO’s from around the world,” Anne reveals. Another boon was EDS’ commitment to educating their executives. Anne benefited enormously, learning about the business of business to help governments around the world. She also headed up the state and local government practice for a year, rounding out her knowledge and expertise in government on every level.

This leg of the journey clearly primed Anne for working with ASI. Despite the fact that she had never actually run a business before, ASI was willing to take her on due to her outstanding track record.

“I’ve had a pretty eclectic background: finance, general administration, CIO, but never procurement acquisition. Why me? In part because there was a need to move out beyond the strictly procurement community, and they understood that I shared their passion for transforming government,” she discloses. “They took a risk. I took a risk. It has paid off for both of us. They have been terrific people and quite wonderful to work with.”

In a career that has garnered numerous awards and accolades, risk-taking has been a key component. In fact, Anne’s advice to anyone just starting out reflects this wisdom. “You will always have lots of choices. Don’t be afraid to take what may look like a risk, if it really appeals to you. And be flexible.”

Risk and flexibility were also key factors in the launching of ASI itself. Like Anne, the founders came from the government sector. One, a retired military officer, believed strongly that there was a better way for the government to make purchases.  Together with a colleague he wrote a series of white papers on acquisition and the overwhelming response was, “These are great ideas, you are absolutely on target. Now help us to implement them.”

Initially, ASI met the needs of its clients with a totally virtual operation, although some employees worked on-site with clients. By 2003, the owners (now numbering four) decided to get help running the growing business. That’s when Anne came on as President. She was employee #38. Having spent 20 years in large organizations, working without formal office space was a bit of an adjustment for Anne. But it worked out well.

“People met around the kitchen table or in the living room, if we needed a larger ‘conference area’. We also heavily used the local business clubs and built a strong corporate intranet. That was the glue that held everybody together,” she concludes.

Today, ASI has 200 employees and brings in $50 million in revenue. The original white papers morphed into a web-based subscription service, linked to 8,000 government desktops. In addition, the consultant practice focuses on procurement and acquisition. Consulting and training in  program management, organizational development, and cultural change management, round out their professional service offerings.

As a leader of this uniquely structured firm, Anne’s management style is deeply rooted in acknowledging the talent of those around her and empowering them to be even better.

“My gift is not so much my own depth of expertise, it’s being able to assemble a team and empower them to go forth and do good.”

Her ability to appreciate others is reflective of the support she has received. Her biggest cheerleader is her husband of 35 years. Professionally, she’s had several influencers, including  Kennedy School Dean Ira Jackson, mentioned earlier,  and Welsh Hardman, Deputy Comptroller of the Naval Sea Systems Command. ”Hardman made an incredible difference in so many lives and in the future of government. His greatest legacy was in the people that he brought in and encouraged to go forth and do what we’ve done. I also need to acknowledge the power and influence of my partners in leadership, Ira Hobbs (my Deputy CIO while at the Department of Agriculture) and Ann Costello (a founder and managing partner at ASI who is now Chair of the Board). Ira and Ann both inspire those around them to greatness. It has been my privilege to share in leadership with them.”

Anne’s legacy, handed down from her parents and exemplified in her life and work, is the conviction to always work toward a greater cause. She is especially excited about her work with a small foundation, LaBECA, which funds the education of women and girls in Latin America. LaBECA grew out of mission work she and the other co-founders engaged in with their church.  “Whether I’m helping girls in Latin America get an education, or whether I’m working professionally, I’m going to try to leave the world a better place.” These are values that my husband and I have sought to instill in our own three children.

With career connections that read like a Who’s Who in Government, Anne is most proud of the fact that she tries to make a difference wherever she is. And she has left her mark on a multitude of governments across the globe. By following her life’s calling to “do good works” and be of service, Anne Reed has made her mark on transforming the world through the government systems we all live under.

Anne Reed

Gordon J Bernhardt


President and founder of Bernhardt Wealth Management and author of Profiles in Success: Inspiration from Executive Leaders in the Washington D.C. Area. Gordon provides financial planning and wealth management services to affluent individuals, families and business owners throughout the Washington, DC area. Since establishing his firm in 1994, he and his team have been focused on providing high quality service and independent financial advice to help clients make informed decisions about their money.

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