Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Eileen McAnneny speaks from a podium

Eileen McAnneny was the first woman to lead the influential Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. She plans to retire at the end of this year. State House News Service photo / File

Eileen McAnneny, the first woman to lead the influential Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and a public policy “powerhouse,” plans to retire at the end of this year.

McAnneny plans to announce her retirement at the business-friendly group’s annual meeting tonight, a spokesperson said. The foundation’s board of directors has already established a search committee to replace McAnneny, a statement from the foundation said.

“Eileen not only gave MTF a more prominent role in shaping policy in areas of taxation and transportation on Beacon Hill, she also brought the organization into new areas of research and policy that affect both people and the economy such as racial inequity, the need for better child care for working families, and the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic,” Jane Steinmetz, Boston managing principal at Ernest & Young and executive committee member of the MTF, said in a statement released along with the retirement announcement. “As the former chair of MTF, I was proud to stand with Eileen as two strong female voices and leaders in Massachusetts’ business community, bringing new perspectives and priorities to the development of policies that matter.”

Hired as president of the 90-year-old MTF in 2015, McAnneny grew its research abilities and expanded its policy work to include racial wealth inequity, access to childcare, the impact of the opioid epidemic and the long-term effects of under-funding the state’s public transit systems. McAnneny herself became a frequent voice on transportation debates, frequently cooperating with advocates like former state transportation secretary Jim Aloisi to press state legislators and the Baker administration on a range of transit-related issues. She also played a key role pressuring Gov. Charlie Baker to create the much-lauded MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board after the transit agency collapsed during the winter of 2015.

“I am very proud of my tenure leading the brilliant MTF team and working with our excellent Board to deepen our impact as an indispensable source of data and guidance for public and private decision-makers on the major policy issues driving Commonwealth’s economy and affecting the taxpayers of Massachusetts,” McAnneny said in a statement. “A key part of my early work was to update both our operations and our strategy, focusing on everything from the policy areas we consider to the technology we are using for our research. I’m excited to consider new opportunities for myself knowing that MTF is well-positioned for ongoing success and that periodic changes in leadership are important for the health of an organization.”

McAnneny’s announcement was accompanied by a torrent of praise from top politicians and business leaders.

“For years, Eileen McAnneny has been one of the most important voices when it comes to public policy in Massachusetts, and her advocacy on behalf of taxpayers has been both relentless and enormously effective. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation benefitted from her wealth of experience, her thoughtful approach to her work and her ability to collaborate with a wide range of players on Beacon Hill and beyond. Under her leadership, MTF produced a body of work that was at once comprehensive and approachable. She was hugely successful in advocating for the interest of taxpayers and helping the public understand how their tax dollars are spent. We are grateful for her service and wish her well on her next chapter,” Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a joint statement.

JD Chesloff, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable called McAnneny a “powerhouse.”

“Eileen has been a powerhouse during her tenure leading MTF. The organization has thrived under her leadership, delivering thoughtful, credible, impactful research that has contributed both to public policy discourse as well as legislative action. In a crowded business community space in Massachusetts, Eileen has distinguished herself as a true professional, an effective advocate for the state’s competitiveness and fiscal responsibility, and a trusted colleague, collaborator and friend. Eileen leaves MTF in a strong position for continued success and on behalf of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable I offer my congratulations and gratitude for a job well done,” Chesloff said.

Prior to MTF, McAnneny was president and CEO of the Massachusetts Society of CPAs, director of public policy at Fidelity Investments and a top lobbyist and associate general counsel at Associated Industries of Massachusetts. Before the private sector, she was a staff attorney for the Joint Committee on Revenue of the Massachusetts state legislature where she helped shape several important tax policy changes, including reforms to the corporate tax code.

McAnneny to Retire from Taxpayers Foundation

by James Sanna time to read: 3 min