After more than seven years leading the influential Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Eileen McAnneny on Wednesday announced her plans to step down at the end of 2022.
“This has been a phenomenal job,” said McAnneny, who relayed her decision at the business-backed group’s annual meeting. “[But] a job like this, at least for me, is all consuming. I think a lot of people, since the pandemic, are reevaluating life. ... I certainly went through a little of that.”
The MTF president still has a busy year ahead: another spirited budget debate on Beacon Hill, a push to support Governor Charlie Baker’s tax cut package, a 90th anniversary gala to plan for in October. (McAnneny hopes her successor will be picked by that event.)
McAnneny took over in early 2015 for Mike Widmer, who had become a trusted budget adviser to legislative leaders and governors during his two decades-plus as MTF president. She already had extensive public policy experience in Massachusetts by that point, including as a key lobbyist with Associated Industries of Massachusetts, public policy director at Fidelity Investments, and president of the Massachusetts Society of CPAs (her last role before joining MTF). She oversees a five-person staff, with an annual budget of about $1.4 million.
Under McAnneny’s leadership, MTF maintained its prominence as a budget watchdog while broadening its mission to include reports on subjects as varied as the state’s opioid epidemic and child care crisis.
“She has great strategic thoughts about policy issues across a spectrum of areas that are of critical importance to the state,” said Jane Steinmetz, the head of accounting giant EY’s Boston office and former chair of the MTF board. “I’ve seen her take MTF, in my opinion, to a whole other level. ... She’s a rock star. I really hope that the business community and the state can continue to tap into her talents.”
Jim Rooney became the chief executive of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce around the same time McAnneny took over MTF. As leaders of two of the state’s most influential business groups, they ended up working together frequently.
“Eileen successfully put her mark on the Taxpayers Foundation,” Rooney said. “She was able to, at times when it was necessary, take perhaps the less-than-popular positions [on Beacon Hill] about activities within state government.”
Now that McAnneny’s departure has been made public, MTF’s board can start the hunt for her replacement. And McAnneny can start to think about what she’s going to do next, to best put her public policy skills and experience to use.
“You get one life,” she said. “I have one act left in me. I want to explore what my options are.”