Ops With Chops: Meet Clinical Operations Leader Anna Annecca

Anna Annecca joined Assured Allies after earning a clinical doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis and working clinically for five years with a diverse population from age 26 weeks in utero to 102. During a busy spring week, she was generous enough to take a quick coffee break and share what she loves about her work at Assured Allies. Enjoy!

What path led you to join Assured Allies?

In 2021, right before I welcomed my daughter into my life, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Luckily he has an excellent long-term care policy, but navigating his disease and care has been challenging for me, even with my background and understanding of the industry.  So when one of my closest friends from graduate school recommended a role alongside her at Assured Allies, it seemed the perfect fit. 

What is your role?

I am the clinical operations team lead. I work on both of our products, AgeAssured and NeverStop. Essentially I am the bridge between our clinical research, product, engineering, and operations teams, translating our learnings and clinical research into operational protocols for our amazing team of Allies to execute. 

For example, we learned over time that Allies who used motivational interviewing techniques were more effective in helping our members make changes. So we implemented motivational interviewing—which also has a strong evidence base outside our program—into our training and protocols program-wide. We have since seen our members thrive with these strategies in place!

How do you cope when things on the ground don’t go according to plan? 

When people are involved, nothing goes exactly according to plan. But that is life! You have to pivot, read the situation, and plan your next steps. Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether I think something is the most amazing clinical protocol in the world: if our Allies and members don’t like it, it will not work. If there’s a gap, I take it back to our product team to problem-solve until it works smoothly on the clinical side. I’m proud of how our entire team iterates quickly. It matters because the older adults we serve are immediately affected.

What are the top three things you would advise a new person in your position?

Number one, learn to love the iteration. Your first presentation, protocol, or training program is always going to fall short, and that’s not only ok, it’s good because it means others who have knowledge you don’t can contribute. 

Secondly,  learn to pivot without losing too much momentum or spirit. Start-ups are wildly unique and can change on a dime, maybe especially when they’re trying to help people. 

Last but not least, stay curious and open-minded. Ask questions. If you think something is wrong, understand why it is that way before you judge.  It will help you fully grasp what is in front of you and help to create a great work culture. 

What part of your job do you love the most?

I love the people I work with. I am extremely grateful to my team and my manager. It is such a fun group of people. We laugh and have fun together even when it’s extremely busy.  

What is most innovative about your work at Assured Allies?

Being able to help people on a live phone call is amazing. We can quickly identify what someone needs based on our clinical protocols and internal knowledge. This has translated into two very different, but world-class programs. 

What is a typical day like on the Operations team?

Ops is the Wild West! I always start with a strong cup of coffee. I review any updates from our team in Israel and connect with my manager. Then I dig into the different projects I have on the docket for the day. This morning I developed two new protocols for NeverStop Wellness, sat with our AgeAssured wellness pod and reviewed a call, presented a new AgeAssured protocol to the Operations team (it was approved!), and this afternoon finetuned some new features for the NeverStop program!

What is it like to be a woman leader in your field? 

As a clinician, I come from a woman-dominated industry, so transitioning into a tech-based start-up was a good change of pace. It’s been an empowering journey filled with opportunities to challenge stereotypes, break barriers, and inspire others. It’s about embracing diversity, leveraging unique perspectives, and driving positive change. Paving the way for future generations is incredibly rewarding. And I owe my success to the strong women who work alongside me and who have come before me—the incredible women-dominated operations team and my badass of a grandmother, Joyce Cortina, who taught me never to fear voicing my opinion in a room full of men. 

What has most surprised you about your time at Assured Allies?

How much fun iteration is. I grew up with the saying, “If you are going to do something, do it right.”  Assured Allies, has taught me that if you are going to do something right, you need to do it again—and again! 

What are some fun, quirky things people should know about you?

I am a big ole’ nerd. I love to hang out with my family, play video games (Zelda, TOTK). I also love to cook, and explore the world with my family.