Climbing the ladder at Goldman Sachs is no easy feat. Wall Street savvy and board room acumen are what propelled Anne Welsh McNulty to the top before she retired as a managing director in late 2001. But what she couldn’t have guessed was that the same finance-world skill set she had would soon come into play elsewhere.
It was January 2003 when she and her late husband John arrived in Naples to look at houses. They wanted to relocate to Florida and had toured several cities, but none were the right fit. McNulty, a perky, whip-smart blonde with a vivacious side, needed to make sure she was placing herself somewhere where nightly bingo wasn’t the sole stimulation. “We wanted to be around younger, like-minded people. We didn’t want to go to bed at 9.”
Often the first on the dance floor, McNulty boogies with revelers at her 2011 beach-themed bash (from left: McNulty, Linda Sonders, daughter Brynne McNulty and Andrea McLendon).
Karen Van Arsdale from emeritus trustee Scott Lutgert’s Premier Sotheby’s International Realty showed them the town. She called Lutgert on the spot and said, “I think you should invite these people to your home tonight.”
One vintner dinner and auction later, and the McNultys were hooked on Naples. They became involved in the foundation pretty much when they signed the papers for their house. “We got to know Scott that weekend, and attending the festival was a very compelling argument to move here,” she says.
One of McNulty’s many memorable past dinners was the 2011 soiree, “Uncork Good Vibrations,” she held with the Bains. Coastal decor in and out of her house set the tone, a Beach Boys cover band entertained the lively crowd.
Photo by Tom Harper
In addition to heading the NCEF board of trustees, she previously led the grant committee, the branch of the organization that determines which charities receive funds raised at the auction. She also loves planning the yearly vintner dinners she co-hosts with friends Ann and Bill Bain. “The festival itself is a creative and joyful way to raise money,” she says. “And one of the most fun things we trustees get to do is throw those parties.”
She hosts vintner dinners with her friends Ann and Bill Bain.
McNulty Explains the Grant Process
The nine trustees who sit on the grant committee in three-year terms take their commitment seriously. “We’re extremely professional and disciplined. We really try to act that way because we have a long-term responsibility to both those who give us money and those who rely on that money,” McNulty says.
In the roughly 10 hours each week the committee members devote towards their work reviewing grant applications and attending frequent meetings, the process has two parts—the annual grant cycle and strategic initiatives. The annual cycle is how individual organizations apply for funds. The committee reads and reviews them and selects on average 25 beneficiaries for each year.
The strategic initiatives platform was hatched after a 2005 University of Florida NCEF-commissioned study showed gaps in child care in the county. These programs bring together several nonprofits to address a broader problem over three to five years. One such push was the building of the dental center in 2008, and a current one is HUGS, a mental-health coalition linking local groups like NAMI Collier County and the David Lawrence Center. “We try to think big and set audacious goals—and make them happen,” she says.
”Everyone knows our party will go the longest; we have a tradition of dancing,“ McNulty says. Below: Vintner Mary Novak of Spottswoode led guests in a late-night conga line.