Portraits in Philanthropy: Ann Murphy

Portraits in Philanthropy: Ann Murphy

Efficient, effective, engaging: that’s Ann Murphy. Behind her soft voice and wide smile is a seasoned business woman and community leader. Ann is Vice President of Murphy Development, Inc., a real estate firm specializing in multi-family development and property management. Ann manages over 1,400 units with 3,500 tenants, and handles all financial matters for the company.

Ann Van Den Heuvel grew up in DePere, close to the St. Norbert College campus. The Van Den Heuvel family was a large one, five boys and three girls with many relatives in the area. Ann credits her parents for her success. Her father Ray was always involved in community activities, including supporting St. Norbert. Her mother, Pat, a free spirit, enlisted in the armed forces at age 19. Together, they taught Ann leadership skills, business acumen, self confidence and a commitment to philanthropy. Ann’s mother encouraged Ann’s active involvement in the family business, VHC, Inc., caring for Ann’s children so she could work and participate in community activities. “My mother supported me 100%, and my dad was an excellent teacher,” Ann recalls.

St. Norbert College is close to Ann’s heart. Her husband, Pat, is a graduate, as is her daughter, Brooke, Class of 2002, cum laude. In 2000, Ann received an honorary degree recognizing her volunteer work on St. Norbert’s behalf. As President of the President’s Club (the first woman to hold that position) she headed a fund drive in 1998 for the campus center, raising $6 million in eight months. Her leadership also helped produce record enrollment that year. 

In addition to her professional responsibilities at Murphy Development, Ann’s talents are recognized by many organizations and corporations. She is a former member of the M&I Bank Regional Board of Directors, has served on the Bellin Board of Directors, the Weidner Performing Arts Center Board of Directors, and is a sponsor of the Bellin Life Line series. She has been awarded the Brown County Homebuilders Association Leadership Award and the Builder-Owner-Manager Achievement Award by the Brown County Multifamily Association.

“There is nothing you can’t accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit,” Ann says, quoting Ronald Reagan. This attitude has enabled her to be an effective advocate and fundraiser for a variety of causes and organizations. An accomplished public speaker, Ann has been invited to share her approach to fund development with a number of organizations. The Northeastern Wisconsin Chapter of the National Society of Fundraising Executives named her the “Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser.”

In addition to her work with private organizations, Ann has collaborated with state and local government officials. She had a role in the Claude Allouez Bridge project and the approval process for the University of Wisconsin -Green Bay Sports Center. Ann was a member of Governor Scott McCallum’s transition team, and then joined the Governor’s Executive Residence Committee.

Ann and Pat are generous contributors to area charities. The Boys and Girls Club, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and Bellin Health are a few of their favorites in addition to St. Norbert College and UW–Green Bay.

The honors and awards she has earned are appreciated, Ann says, but nothing in her life means more to her than her family. “My grandchildren are my greatest accomplishment,” she says with evident pride. Her family comes first, always. In addition to their own children, Ann and Pat reached out to a young boy, a friend of one of their boys.  He spent so much time at their home and joined them on family trips that he became one of the family. After a difficult, tragic time for his family, Ann and Pat adopted him and now he is officially part of the Murphy clan. During that process, Ann says, “We learned so much about ourselves. It was a life-changing experience.” Long discussions about their values, goals and hopes for the children brought them all closer.

“Do what you say you will do,” is Ann’s advice to others. “In business, in your personal life, as a volunteer, keep your word.” It’s not always easy, she adds, “So choose your commitments wisely. Then, work hard, listen carefully and success will follow.”