Students at Baldwin-Wallace College may have an edge once they graduate if they heed the advice of Ann Chiarucci O’Brien G.O. ’76. As project director of the college’s Center for Innovation and Growth, she mentors undergraduates and helps them hone their skills in innovation and entrepreneurship. “Engage in personally meaningful work,” she tells them. The Gilmour Trustee graduated from Glen Oak School, which merged with Gilmour in 1982. There she discovered the importance of being a lifelong learner and to respect and embrace “diversity in talents, background, religion, race and thought,” she says. She left Glen Oak with the heady notion of pursuing your passion, challenging yourself and doing your best.
These lessons were aptly applied after high school, when O’Brien enrolled at Georgetown University and earned a bachelor’s degree in international politics and economics. From there, she proceeded to Harvard University, where she earned a master’s degree in public administration. She also knows a thing or two about launching a successful career: Crain’s Cleveland Business named her to its “Forty Under Forty” group in 1991 and, the following year, the YWCA selected her as a “Woman of Professional Excellence.”
Prior to joining Baldwin-Wallace in 2007, O’Brien was on the board of the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Foundation for nine years and served as its president from 2004 through 2006, managing its $65 million endowment. She was active in community outreach and fundraising, and worked on behalf of children’s health and safety issues and support of children’s hospitals. Even today, O’Brien remains an advocate for children’s issues since she is on the boards of Rainbow Child Health & Policy Center, and Voices for Ohio’s Children.
O’Brien was with Ernst & Young LLP for 15 years and was a senior manager in health care management and consulting. She also guided the Cleveland Clinic Health System Eastern Region as financial manager, was a teacher at Ursuline College and taught health services management at a community college.
Much of her time these days surrounds Gilmour activities. “Keep family and friends at the center of your life,” she counsels. O’Brien and her husband, Robert, chief financial officer for Forest City Enterprises, Inc., have two children at Gilmour. Bobby ’10 was on the Lancer Varsity Football team and is senior class president and Kathleen ’11 plays varsity soccer and lacrosse. Their daughter Sara is a sixth grader at a Solon school and plays CYO volleyball. When she is not attending one of their athletic events, O’Brien enjoys reading. “I think it is pretty remarkable how many Gilmour alums send their kids here,” she says. “I have met many alumni from other classes at luncheons and sporting events.”
In 2005, Gilmour presented O’Brien with its Alumna of the Year Award for her many years of leadership and service to the Academy. She has been a Trustee since the early 1990s and has volunteered on its Academic Affairs and Finance Committees, and served on two capital campaigns. Thanks to the Glen Oak Alumna Facebook site, she is able to keep up with former classmates.
At the end of the day it all comes down to “strong faith and a sense of gratitude,” O’Brien says. “They will provide perspective through the ups and downs of life.”