Ann Hudock feature

Ann Hudock

Senior Vice President for International Programs at Plan International USA

Why She’s Amazing

Ann Hudock doesn’t want to be a princess. She wants to be more.

Dr. Ann Hudock serves as the Senior Vice President for International Programs at Plan International USA. Prior to joining Plan, Dr. Hudock was a managing director at Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), where she diversified DAI’s client base by designing and spearheading DAI’s strategy for growth with the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Her previous roles have included Deputy Country Representative at The Asia Foundation in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Prior to that, she was one of the first democracy fellows at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), based in the Center for Democracy and Governance in Washington, DC. She has also served as the Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, supporting the Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor portfolio at the U.S. Department of State. In addition, she has served on the board of the Association for Women in Development (AWID) and is currently an advisor to the University of Dayton’s Human Rights Center.

We had a chance to ask Ann a few questions. Something tells us the trails she blazes will change the world.

“I had high expectations for myself and for others, and I held myself to high standards.
If that made me a princess, I embraced it.” – Ann Hudock

Q & A

Q: When you were a young girl, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?

A: When I was a young girl, I wanted to explore the world. I had a book I read all the time about children from around the world and how they lived. I used to dream about traveling to different countries to meet all these people and experience their cultures. I grew up in a small town where most people didn’t travel internationally so I didn’t know what options there might be for careers along those lines. I thought I would be a writer who could write about people and their stories. Or a doctor. Or a member of Congress.

Q: What did people think when you told them that?

A: When I told people what I wanted to do when I grew up, they told me to stay in school and to follow my dreams.

Q: Did people call you “princess” when you were a little girl? How did that make you feel?

A: People didn’t call me a princess until I was older and, when they said it, they meant it as an insult meaning that I was “high maintenance”. It bothered me at first, but then I decided along the way to take this as a compliment. I realized some people were threatened by me as a strong woman demanding my rights. I had high expectations for myself and for others, and I held myself to high standards. If that made me a princess, I embraced it.

Q: How did you become interested in pursuing a career in international development, including once being the only female Managing Director in your practice?

A: In college, I met Frances Moore Lappe, the author of Diet for a Small Planet. She modeled what a career in international development looked like. When I graduated from the University of Dayton, I created a volunteer experience in Sierra Leone with a local organization dedicated to rural development. This is where I found my passion for international development. I learned about the power of community organizing and citizens holding their governments to account. My work at DAI as a managing director allowed me the opportunity to work globally on these issues.

Q: What did you have to do to accomplish this?

A: To succeed in the roles I have held, I have had to learn from my failures. I used to focus on success and how much of it I could find. Now I look for the things I haven’t done well and figure out how to do them better so I can grow and I can have a deeper, more positive impact on the world around me.

Q: Did you have a mentor or role model who inspired you?

A: I had so many role models growing up and in my career. Each one taught me something different. Some of the more famous ones were Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem and Frances Moore Lappe. Brother Raymond Fitz, S.M., who was the President of the University of Dayton while I was a student there was one of my closest mentors and role models since I had the privilege to watch him work and eventually work alongside him in his office.

Q: Did your family and friends support your aspirations?

A: My family and friends have not always understood my interests and aspirations, but they have always, always supported them.

Q: Did you think about being called a “trailblazer” for choosing this path?

A: I did feel like a trailblazer when I moved to Sierra Leone since very few people in my hometown had traveled much or outside the U.S., and I knew I had a great opportunity to see the world this way. People were excited for me and also curious why I would want to leave the comforts of home for places unknown. I couldn’t imagine staying at home when there was a wide world to see!

Q: What motivates you?

A: I’m motivated connecting with people who are so different from me and learning about their lives that are often so challenging. Finding ways that we can collaborate to address these challenges gives me sense of purpose, and I’m humbled by the grace, dignity and generosity so many people have in the face of difficult circumstances. I have learned so much about life from these experiences, especially the common ties that bind us.

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Q: When you feel like throwing in the towel, what helps you to turn that around?

A: I don’t often feel like throwing in the towel. Tough challenges inspire me and, if something is easy, I’m not very interested in it. If I do get down or frustrated, I usually take a break to connect with friends and family and then come back with a renewed sense of purpose. My four boys inspire me to continue since I want a world for them that is more just, and I want them to see their mother as a woman who is helping to make that happen.

Q: Of what are you most proud?

A: I’m most proud of myself for taking what was a big risk to move to Sierra Leone right after college, landing with a newly-established local organization that I didn’t know to do work that was unfamiliar to me. Today, the people I’ve met and worked with there are some of the most important people in my life, and the organization we helped to develop is still operating all these years later as one of the strongest local development organizations in the country. To be present at the creation and to support the vision of the Sierra Leonean founders was a life changing experience. I’m proud of what they achieved.

Q: What would you like people to learn from you?

A: I’d like people to learn from me that you have to trust your instincts. So many times the path isn’t clear but, if it feels like the right trail you are on, you should blaze it!

Q: What three words would you like people to use to describe you?

A: Creative. Strong willed. Unable to follow the rules when they don’t make sense.

Q: What do you want people to know about you outside of your accomplishments?

A: The most important thing to know about me outside of my work is that I am a mother to four boys. This is the most defining thing about me since they have shaped my world and changed my perspective in so many ways.

Q: Given the choice, would you do it all again?

A: There isn’t a day I regret or a choice I would change. They weren’t always good, but I learned from them and they led me here – which is just where I want to be. Until I figure out the next thing!

Q: If you could eat lunch with one person, who would it be?

A: I would love to eat lunch with Ruby Bridges. She’s one of the people I admire most in the world. The courage she had as a young girl to cross protest lines to attend school changed the way this country educates its children and blazed a trail for equality. She’s so brave and powerful.

Q: Which woman would you choose to have on U.S. currency?

A: I would choose Ruby Bridges to put on US currency. Without education you can’t earn money, and she made it possible for so many people to attend school who had been unfairly denied education.

Q: What advice would you give to a girl who wants to be just like you?

A: If a girl said she wanted to be just like me, I would tell her not to be like me but to be like herself. It is so important for girls to find their voice and listen to who it tells them to be. If my example can inspire her to discover herself, I’d be thrilled since so many others inspired me to become who I am.

Bonus Question:

Q: What question would you ask the next Modern Day Trailblazer we interview?

A: What did you learn from your greatest failure?

Fun Facts:

  • Ann is a night owl.
  • Her husband sent her the last text message that she received.
  • Ann’s favorite place that she’s visited is London.
    She was there when we did the interview!
  • Her favorite Halloween candy is candy corn and pumpkins.
  • Ann’s favorite quote is “An obstacle opens opportunity.
    For once there was only one way to go. Now there are many.”