There’s both a good story and photo documentation of the first time Peter Anderson and Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson met. Mango’s, the old Las Olas restaurant and bar, was hosting a Florida Atlantic University event featuring Howard Schnellenberger, the former FAU and University of Miami football coach. Peter Anderson works in financial planning and was active with FAU, where he got his MBA; someone who was then his client wanted to go to the event and meet the coach. Jennifer O’Flannery was then the FAU president’s chief of staff.
As Anderson tells it, he saw her across the room and asked somebody he knew from FAU who she was.
“No, that’s Jennifer,” she told him. “Stay away from her. You’ve never been married, and we’re very protective of Jennifer.”
So he tried something different. He went over and said hello to Frank Brogan, the former lieutenant governor of Florida who was then the FAU president and with whom Anderson had met in Tallahassee.
“He acted like he remembered me,” Anderson says, “and said, ‘I’d like to introduce you to Jennifer O’Flannery.’”
They got to talking, and sparks flew. In a way.
“What a lovely suit,” she told him, putting a hand on his lapel. “You’d look much better with a tie on.”
He took out a business card and countered with a classic chat-up line: “I’d like to talk to you about a strategic relationship between my bank and FAU; I’m an alumni.”
Moments later, somebody took a photo of the group, which also included Coach Schnellenberger. They still have it; in it, he’s holding her business card.
And 12 years later, they remain married.
“It turned out to be a really good strategic relationship,” Peter says.
If you attend the luncheons or functions of the local not-for-profit community, the Andersons might be familiar faces. In August, Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson became president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Broward, a philanthropic and grant-making organization with a broad portfolio of projects. O’Flannery had worked in both academia and the nonprofit sector; previous stops included vice president roles at Nova Southeastern and Florida Atlantic universities, and president and CEO of the United Way of Broward County. Peter Anderson’s professional world is that of financial advisor; he owns a Raymond James branch, while past stops include financial advisors Veritas and United Capital as well as vice president roles at Comerica Wealth Management and National City Bank. He’s also familiar with the nonprofit side through several board roles. He’s currently board chairman of the 22 Project, a veterans’ mental health and suicide prevention organization. He also chaired the Junior Achievement of South Florida Board.
In other words, their LinkedIn profiles take several minutes to read. One term for the Andersons might be “power couple” – although when you actually sit down to talk to them, power is not the main aim or goal that springs to mind. They’re a couple who live their values and love the Fort Lauderdale lifestyle while also offering interesting perspectives on life in unusual and challenging times.
“Both of us have constantly tried to remember how fortunate we are,” Anderson says. “Be kinder, gentler to each other because many people are going through some tough times.”
Jennifer describes Peter as “the biggest fan” of the organizations she works for. “He’s a great partner,” she says. “He does take a lot of pride in my work and becomes my biggest fan and the organization’s biggest fan. He takes pride in supporting the organization and the cause. He very much likes to be out in the community, being of service.”
In COVID-19 times, it helps to have a fan club. The work is hard.
“Our conversations have changed from three months ago,” Jennifer says of today versus when she first began her new job in the summer. “First it was, this is a crisis and we have to get through it and get back to normal. Now we’re all in the realization that there is no back to normal. It’s more how do we look forward and more permanently adapt to this change.”
At first, everyone was in crisis mode. Now it’s long-term adaptation. Everybody’s going through that.
The foundation, O’Flannery Anderson says, is also committed to merging recovery with the day’s other burning issue, racial and social justice. “We have to address that as well,” she says. “That is really our moral imperative at this point. For me, that’s a point of inflection for our organization right now.”
It’s also an issue that requires something that’s not always easy for action-oriented leaders like Jennifer: stopping and stepping back.
“My predisposition is always to move into action,” she says. “But I think one of the lessons that’s coming out of these discussions is that there’s a significant period of personal introspection. It has to start with each of us looking inside and understanding, acknowledging and committing to new perspectives and new actions. It’s about what I as a person am going to do and acknowledge. And that’s hard. We need to move with resolute action and speed, but it can’t be effective if we don’t take that step of personal introspection as well.”
In the last few months, the Community Foundation of Broward rolled out several grant-based programs. One recognized nonprofit employees on the frontlines. Another will be focused on art that educates on social justice and racial equity – providing enlightenment and challenge. A third involves a large grant to an organization or company working to get Broward people back to work. Jennifer describes this work as out of the ordinary, a response to unusual times. Other responses to unusual times happen at home. This is where the Andersons know they’re lucky. Their Lauderdale lifestyle includes a boat they enjoy regularly, good friends and crucially, a pair of rescue dogs. (They got Pearl from Lab Rescue of Florida, while Annie was a stray brought over from Puerto Rico by the Humane Society from Broward County, where there’s a large stray dog population.)
As their community’s need has become so much greater, Peter says he’s found that narrowing his focus has been rewarding. With clients, he’s in more communication than he was before. Clients who might have previously not been bothered about more than a couple conversations a year now want more regular contact, which is how he prefers it. In terms of his philanthropic and volunteering work, he’s pared down to really focus on the 22 Project, which among other things is partnering with Nova Southeastern on veterans mental health research.
The “strategic partnership” that began at an FAU event more than a decade ago today helps sustain two people doing vital work. Jennifer’s got the more public job – Peter sometimes introduces himself as a “trophy husband” and has got nametags at events before that gave his name as “Peter O’Flannery Anderson.” (He doesn’t mind.) But for Jennifer, her financially savvy husband is both a one-man fan club and a sage advice giver. She might be doing the lord’s work, she says, but “the lord’s work still has to be done with a business mind.” She’ll ask him questions about operations, financials, how to talk about certain financial elements, etc., and he always gives her a pure, clear business-minded take that helps her organize her approach.
He says being married to someone committed to that work makes his life better. Other people hear about the projects and successes Jennifer champions when she gives a speech or delivers a report. He gets the “nightly report with all the great things that have happened. I’m the luckiest guy in the world; I get to hear those stories at dinner.”
When in-person events start to become more frequent, you may see the Andersons if you attend nonprofit fundraisers or other similar things. If you do, you’ll see a couple who work in different fields but who share values and passions. You’ll also see at least one fashion choice that has changed since they first chatted at an FAU event on Las Olas. “The number of ties,” Jennifer says, “and the selection of ties, has increased.