How I Work: Annie Burton, Executive Director of WINGS for Kids

How I Work: Annie Burton, Executive Director of WINGS for Kids
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(Note: Our How I Work series is brought to you by AccruePartners – building people, companies and careers by being at the forefront of the staffing and executive search industry).

Annie Burton, a Boston and Harvard University native, serves as the Executive Director of WINGS for Kids in Charlotte. The vision of WINGS is that all kids will develop social and emotional skills so they can be successful in life.

Their national team teaches these skills to elementary school age kids by weaving a comprehensive social and emotional learning curriculum into a fresh and fun after school program. Kids get the life lessons they need to succeed and be happy and they get a safe place to call home after school.

Office location:

WINGS for kids, Inc., 1011 Palmer Plaza Lane, Suite 2 (Rear), Charlotte, NC 28211

Annie Burton, Executive Director of WINGS for Kids in Charlotte

Job Title:

Executive Director, Charlotte Region

Commute (how and how long?)

I commute to work by car from Steele Creek and it takes at least one hour to get into West Charlotte from I-77. Charlotte’s growth has surpassed its highway infrastructure – reminds me of Boston!

What do you do during your commute?

Listen to audio books and music, my favorite artist is Béyonce! I really enjoy her recent release, Lemonade, I enjoy how she has grown as an artist and I think she’s done a phenomenal job writing her own music on this title.

Phone Type:

Samsung S7 Galaxy Edge

Annie Burton, Executive Director of WINGS for Kids in Charlotte

This is a photo of my youngest, son, Carrington.

Gadgets you can’t live without:

My iPad air is essential! If I don’t have some form of technology within close proximity I feel isolated from everything!

Do you listen to music while you work? Type/source:

Yes! Pandora. I love R&B, jazz and Motown era music. My kids think I am crazy because I still enjoy Rap music, Jay Z and Kanye West are my current favorites.

What software are you a power user of?

Microsoft Office, especially PowerPoint.

What’s your favorite spot for a business lunch? Your order?

Red Rocks Café on Providence Road, the William Sloan’s Jambalaya is to die for!

Social media habits:

Facebook, Twitter, Flipagram and Instagram junkie!

To-do list manager:

Google Keep

What everyday thing are you really good at?

Managing many competing priorities at once. It’s like juggling a bunch of balls up in the air on a daily basis and pulling one down as you need it, throwing it back up, grabbing another and the cycle continues.

I’m currently juggling the opening of the second WINGS site here in Charlotte at Byers Elementary and preparing for the first annual SOAR awards that will honor leaders in education and social/emotional intelligence, all while working to secure program funding so our sites, and our kids can continue to flap their wings!

I also spend a great deal of time networking and getting to know the Charlotte Community. I have enjoyed the Mayor’s annual UNCF Masquerade Ball, the Charlotte Chapter of The Links, Incorporated functions (of which I am a member), Charlotte Chamber of Commerce annual meetings, and supporting other fundraisers/socials for other non-profits.

What’s your one favorite thing about your job?

The reason I love my job is because of our WINGS kids at Bruns Academy and Walter G. Byers Elementary. I appreciate the role emotional intelligence plays in our organization and how intentional we are about instilling social and emotional smarts to the kids in our program.

So, from the top all the way day to the bottom, social-emotional learning is happening every day. I also really like being a trail-blazer in the Charlotte region for our after school programs.

We’ve only been in Charlotte for three years (though the org is 20 yrs old) and I’m the first Executive Director of the Charlotte region, so I’m meeting new people and making new connections all the time.

Annie Burton, Executive Director of WINGS for Kids in Charlotte

Best time-saving shortcut or Charlotte life hack:

One of my favorite life hacks actually comes from something we teach our WINGS’ kids, which is “how to avoid a “YES MESS,”’ I even use it with my own son. This is a proactive trick we teach WINGS kids to predict consequences before choosing the action they will take.

It’s simple. To avoid a “YES MESS, WINGS has three questions kids can ask to help them avoid a potentially bad outcome; if you can answer yes to one of three questions, things could go wrong.

1) Could anyone (including me) get hurt if I choose this?

2) Could I get into trouble if I get caught doing this?

3) Can anything bad happen if I make this choice?

If the answer is yes to any of the questions then a YES MESS is inevitable, but if the answer is no, then kids are probably making a good choice. It’s great to see the kids using this technique with one another. I use it for myself often!

Sleep routine:

I have always required a great deal of sleep, in fact I try to get at least nine hours a night. When I was in college most of my friends didn’t want to invite me to parties because they knew that by the time they would head out (normally 11 p.m.), I was probably fast asleep.

I have discovered since being with WINGS that sleep affects emotional intelligence and critical thinking. One research study showed reductions in empathy, impulse control and self-management if a person has extended periods of sleep deprivation; it also demonstrated how social awareness can be compromised with limited amounts of sleep.

Where do you go around Charlotte to get away from the office?

Romare Bearden Park, the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and kayaking on Lake Wylie. Went to Lake Wylie to kayak on Memorial Day and it reminded me of the famous “Head of the Charles” in Cambridge, MA.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Yogurt with granola, favorite is Activia

If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing?

Probably volunteering to work with kids in an education-based program with a high concentration of underprivileged youth.

Although I attended Harvard University, I grew up in one of the poorest housing projects in Boston, so I really feel strongly about giving back and helping provide opportunities for young people to realize their dreams. Were it not for others who saw promise in me and opened doors of opportunity, I would not be where I am today.

Annie Burton, Executive Director of WINGS for Kids in Charlotte

Best job advice you’ve received:

Never take your job too seriously nor work home!

Last book you read (grade it on a A-F scale):

“Death by Meeting” – Definite A! This was required reading for a recent corporate retreat at our headquarters in Charleston, SC and when I first read the title, I became concerned that my boss was going to emphasize the importance of having more meetings.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was actually encouraging our team and regional offices to introduce more “drama” into meetings where spontaneous-based meetings allow employees to offer unabashed feedback to colleagues (and the boss) to get to the core of organizational priorities.

Last movie you watched (grade it on a A-F scale):

Southside with You! – A

What’s one thing people don’t know about Charlotte that they should?

It is a “transplant” city, so driving is exceptionally insane because you never know the geographic profile of the driver you are going to encounter – it’s nuts! It is very rare to find native Charlotteans.

Is there anything else that we didn’t ask that you’d like to tell our readers?

I am a native Bostonian struggling to become a Southern debutante, but dropping my “R”s has certainly got in the way! And prior to moving to the South the very thought of a shrimp in grits made me quiver; now it is my favorite dish! I am a convert.

What other Charlottean would you like to answer these question?

Greg Schermbeck, one of the first people I met when I relocated to Charlotte who has helped onboard me to the community. What an awesome guy, colleague and friend.

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