Annie McKee, PhD
- Director, PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program
- Penn MedEd Master’s Program
Advisor and Executive Coach
Annie McKee, PhD is a best-selling author, respected academic, speaker and sought-after advisor to top global leaders. She is a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and has co-authored groundbreaking Harvard Business Review books on leadership including Primal Leadership, with Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis, Resonant Leadership, with Richard Boyatzis, and Becoming a Resonant Leader, with Richard Boyatzis and Frances Johnston. These books, and her many articles and blogs, focus on the power of emotional intelligence to change how we lead and how we engage with our work. Annie’s career has been dedicated to finding new ways to foster resonance in relationships and to ensuring that we and those who work with and for us can reach our potential and achieve sustainable, meaningful success.
In her newest book, How to Be Happy at Work: The Power of Purpose, Hope and Friendships, Annie shares wisdom and lessons learned from her decades of experience and research about what enables people and their teams to focus on a positive, engaging vision of the future, tap into meaning, and create healthy, friendly relationships at work. She argues that not only can we be happy at work, but if we want to be successful, we must find ways to live our passion in our day to day activities and in the way we engage with and lead others.
Annie has advised many of the world’s most influential leaders in companies such as Luxottica, Sanofi, Thomson-Reuters, UniCredit Group, United Nations Development Program, Unilever, Viacom, Vodafone, PR Newswire and Creative Commons, to name just a few. Whether she is giving talks to business leaders, teaching seasoned executive doctoral students, working in provincial government offices in South Africa or advising teams in the c-suite of Fortune/ FTSE 100 companies, Annie is committed to helping good leaders become better and to creating vibrant workplace cultures where people—and their institutions—can thrive.
Born in England, Annie spent her childhood in Ithaca, New York. She graduated high school at 16 and, instead of immediately going to university, she chose the road less traveled. Her journeys and experiences were exciting and packed with learning about how people the world over live, grow and often struggle to survive and find meaning in work. She, too, struggled with jobs that were not an obvious road to fulfillment or success. But rather than accept her fate and settle for a life on public assistance, Annie dedicated herself to community organizing—a way to get the help and support she needed and help others at the same time. This work was inspiring, but over time, the ever-present challenges of poverty drove her to take steps toward education and a better job—and a better life for her family.
At 28, she enrolled in a community college and then Chaminade University of Honolulu, where she graduated summa cum laude while raising her three children. Then, as a single mom, she and her children left Hawaii for the “mainland” U.S. where she pursued a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University. From here, Annie crafted a life that allowed her to teach and consult while raising her family. She joined a small liberal arts college first, then the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and later a prominent consultancy before taking yet another risky step—leaving the security of a good job to found a consultancy where she and her team could put their values at the center of the work they did with business leaders and others around the world. She led the firm for many years while continuing to learn and write on resonant leadership, emotional intelligence and how to create a culture in the workplace where everyone can thrive.
Annie’s life and career choices have all guided by her desire to serve others and to help people create workplaces where everyone, no matter who they are or what job they have, is respected, honored and encouraged to soar. Today, as Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, she teaches and leads the PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program and the Penn MedEd Master’s program. Both programs are designed for seasoned, senior leaders who seek to better serve their companies and the people they touch by committing to lifelong learning and an evidence-based approach to leadership and learning in organizations.
In her work at Penn and beyond, Annie is committed to democracy and to engaging in activities that enable each and every human being to seek happiness, health, and well-being. To this end, Annie supports positive social change in her role as a member of the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Board and faculty for the Police Executive Leadership Institute, a program she co-designed with former police commissioner Charles Ramsey, the Major City Chiefs Association, and the Holocaust Museum. Annie also supports her global community by sponsoring the education of a host of talented young people in the developing world and mentoring young leaders.
Annie is married to Eddy Mwelwa, and they have four children and one grandchild: Rebecca, Sean, Sarah, Andrew and Benji. Annie and Eddy live in Pennsylvania with their three dogs and two cats.