Anna's Full Biography

As one of the world's top experts on women's leadership, youth development, and aging, Anna Maria Chávez is a dedicated advocate for helping others across every stage of life.  With 25 years of public service and non-profit leadership experience, Chávez is passionate about teaching the value of teamwork, inclusion and diversity, resiliency, strong leadership and self-motivation. Her keen insights and dynamic presentations have inspired thousands of individuals and organizations to lead authentically, work more collaboratively, and create dynamic impact.  

Chávez was named one of FORTUNE’s World’s Greatest Leaders (2016) and honored as one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company (2014). She has been inducted into the U.S. News & World Report’s STEM Leadership Hall of Fame. Recognized for her work supporting and empowering Hispanic communities, Chávez was the recipient of the 2013 Excellence in Community Service Award from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, as well as the 2013 Graciela Olivarez La Raza Award from UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza).  She is also a member of the National Board of Directors for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Chávez is currently chief strategy officer and senior vice president of external affairs at the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the nation’s oldest advocacy organization dedicated to helping Americans navigate the challenges of aging. In this role, she is responsible for advancing the organization’s mission to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020.

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From 2011-16, Chávez was the first woman of color to lead the iconic Girl Scouts of the USA, where she helped bring the 104-year-old institution into the future with an historic girl-centric organizational redesign. Additionally, she instilled a focus on teaching girls about technology and social entrepreneurship, including adding new badges in fields like financial literacy and STEM education.


Chávez’s personal experiences growing up in rural Arizona drove the passion for the public service and social engagement that have defined her educational and career paths. It was these interests in serving others which brought her first to Washington D.C., where she held numerous posts in President Clinton’s administration, including senior policy advisor to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater and Small Business Administration Administrator Aida Alvarez. Chávez later returned to Arizona to serve as deputy chief of staff for urban relations and community development under Governor Janet Napolitano. In that role, she launched the governor’s Aging 2020 initiative and created the Arizona Division of Aging and Adult Services.


Lauded for her leadership, Anna received the 2013 Law College Association Award and a 2014 honorary Doctors of Laws degree from her law school alma mater, the University of Arizona. She has been recognized as one of the 100 Women Leaders in STEM by STEMconnector and in 2016, Anna was inducted into the U.S. News & World Report’s STEM Leadership Hall of Fame.

Chavez has appeared on top national news outlets including CBS News, NBC’s The Today Show, FOX News Channel, CNBC, CNN, and NPR.

Chávez earned a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a juris doctorate at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. She has been admitted to the Bar of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court.