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Anne Hastings Profile (Part Two of Four)

This is the second part of a two-part publication of excerpts of my draft article on Fonkoze that will be a precursor to my book that profiles Anne Hastings, the CEO of Fonkoze Financial Services.

Anne Hastings Speaking at Yale (Courtesy: Yale University)

Born into a Virginian family of loud, hard-drinking types, during her youth Hastings went through periods of intense dedication to certain activities and people.  Adult women who served as mentors and role models were a particular fascination.  Objects of interest would come and go, without warning or explanation.  Even today she is at a loss to explain how she could be so devoted to horseback riding for years and then suddenly lose her passion for it.

Her first quarter century of adulthood had its share of sharp turns and contradictions.  Her first marriage consisted mainly of forays into the deep south for union organizing with her husband.  (Later she found out, through a Freedom of Information Act request, that the FBI was tracking her during this period and interviewed at least one of her relatives.) 

Her son Corey was born and raised in a remarkably permissive style, even by the standards of the 1960s.  Later, after her second marriage fell apart, she temporarily abandoned social justice work and started doing management consulting for Washington, DC-area corporations, including a few defense contractors.  In one of those engagements she came across a low-key but effective consultant named John Scanlon, and the two combined their practices and worked happily together for years.  For the first time, Hastings began accumulating material possessions to an extent that would have shocked people close to her in earlier as well as later eras of her life.    

Around 1995, Hastings started telling Scanlon and other confidants that she felt needed to move in an entirely new direction.  She mentioned the Peace Corps as a likely destination.  Everyone she remembers consulting was supportive, which seemed to surprise her.  While preparing her application to be a volunteer, a Peace Corps recruiter suggested that before she committed to join the Corps she contact Father Joseph Philippe, a Haitian Priest who was doing innovative work to uplift the rural poor. 

Somehow her resume reached him a few weeks later. 

Philippe knew that he needed a dynamic leader for his fledgling microfinance institution callled Fonkoze that took a decidedly holistic approach — one that he had started as an outgrowth of his original grassroots organization, the Peasants Association of Fondwa.  Ideally, he was looking for a banker fluent in Creole and English who could attract the needed talent and capital and work for free, at least for an initial period.  Unlike Yunus, it was not important that the individual to lead Fonkoze be Haitian.  For him, Christian brotherhood/sisterhood trumped nationalism.  Anyone willing to work for the poor of Haiti was welcome to roll up their sleeves and move his ideas forward. 

When Hastings’ resume came across his desk, he saw that she did not fit the profile.  She was a consultant, not a banker, who spoke no Creole and didn’t even know French.  But he played a hunch that he had found his leader.  Tapping into his impulsive and playful tendencies, he called her up and left a voicemail.  The message informed Anne Hastings that she had been appointed the director of Fonkoze with immediate effect.  

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