Ann Brandau is a public health professional with extensive experience in overseeing and implementing community health initiatives. Her undergraduate degree is in Human Services and she holds a Master’s in Business Administration. She currently sits on the Kansas Board of Regents. For 13 years she has served as the 3rd District Commissioner for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County Board of Commissioners for Kansas City. In 2006 she founded the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association (ANDA) of Kansas City and served as its Executive Director until 2018.
She began to focus on community development from a health perspective and that is what inspired her to create ANDA and begin working to improve the Argentine neighborhood in Kansas City. This is one of the lowest income neighborhoods in the state of Kansas. She believes to be a truly impactful leader, you have to lead by example, so she chose to build a home and live in this neighborhood and has raised her children there over the past 20 years. While working as the Executive Director of ANDA, Ann focused on cleaning up graffiti, establishing local grocery stores within the community, developing an affordable fitness center and making improvements to sidewalks and curbs. This brought needed entry level jobs to the community and encouraged people to take care of their neighborhood.
Ann had originally planned to take the MCAT this summer and to begin working on becoming a Physician Assistant because of her interest in public health, but the MCAT test has been cancelled due to COVID-19. To continue to foster her passion for working to better her community, Ann Brandau plans to enroll in the University of Kansas Master’s in Health Systems Administration in the fall of 2020. Her experience working in the areas of government, non-profits, and public health really dovetails nicely with this degree program.
In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit, or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?
During the COVID crisis, I could have stopped going to school when I found out the MCAT was cancelled, but I think it is important to stay constructively engaged in what you are interested in. When the pandemic hit, I have been adamant about not changing my course and staying focused on my goals and working through that.
When you feel unfocused, what do you do?
I walk and bike very long distances and spend time on small outdoor home projects.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
The advice I would give is that life is a marathon not a sprint. What they should avoid is negative people and negative messages. Remove yourself from anything negative.
What is one lifestyle trend that excites you?
I am a person that loves to set goals for myself. I love wearable exercise technology and fitness technology. I love to measure my personal and professional performance against real data. I love stuff like that.
With or without naming names, who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
There has never been one single person that has influenced me. What I like to do is take pieces of lots of different people and bring them together and utilize those different pieces. I believe we are all sinners and we all make mistakes and bad choices, but each one of us brings something exceptional to table. What I try to identify in people and focus on is what makes them exceptional in what they do and how I can learn from that particular characteristic. Some people have several things that I admire. Some people have one. Some people have none, and I learn from that also. I learn from people sometimes what I never want to be like. You can learn from all kinds of people, not just from successful people. You can also learn from someone’s lack of success.
I do think I inherited my strong sense of fairness, equity, and justice from my parents, and that just rolled over into how I ended up handling my life. I think it is how you are raised, the values that you have, what you believe is right, and what you believe your calling is, and I would say that had to come from my parents.
What is one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned?
Life is not always fair. No matter how hard you work, no matter all the good choices that you make, no matter what you do, no matter what you say, the world is full of people and when you are around other people you are affected by their choices and that does not seem very fair sometimes, but it happens.
What do you think it is that makes you/someone successful?
Education is important but in the end it is grit and tenacity that makes someone successful.
How do you stay motivated?
I am very driven. I think I am a good person, and I want to do good things. I am doing good things. I am not going to let anybody stop me from doing that. Honestly, I think that is why I’m here. I’m here to do good things and make good things happen. I am relentless in my goals and no is never an option. I refuse to get bogged down by bullies or negativity or mean people. The world is full of a lot of unhappy people, but I just refuse to succumb to that.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I have no interest at all in leaving any kind of material legacy. I just want to leave the world a better place than when I got here. I am against ever having a statue or building or anything ever named after me. I don’t have any desire whatsoever to be written in history books or have people talk about me for decades to come. I would hope that my kindness, my generosity, my hard work, my tenacity, my sense of justice, and my fairness that I worked at my entire life will have affected so many people that the world will become a better place.