Special to South Florida Times

PALM BEACH, Fla. – When the late Poet Laureate Maya Angelou wrote the poem “Phenomenal Woman,” she may as well have written the name ‘Ann McNeill’ beside it!

As president and CEO of MCO Construction and Services, Inc., MCO Consulting, Inc. and Constructively Speaking, Inc. as well as founder of the non-profits National Association of Black Women in Construction and the International Mastermind Association – McNeill is truly THAT woman in the poem!

On March 15, she was honored in Washington, DC at the “Women Who Rule the Nation,”

awards for her work associated with the Transportation Industry. The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) selected her as one of their 10 outstanding women from all modes of the transportation industry.

“I am honored and humbled,” said McNeill, during an exclusive interview with the South Florida Times outside of the new Riviera Beach Marina complex, the town where she grew up and attended high school. Although she works in Miami-Dade County, she still resides in her hometown of Palm Beach County.

“As someone with over 40 years of experience in the Florida construction industry, I was one of the first female general contractors in the state,” said McNeill. “Even more important today, I am working to advance the rights of black girls and women working in the construction industry, and I am providing consulting services to pass on my construction knowledge. I thank COMTO for this prestigious recognition!”

Giving back is what McNeill prides herself on undertaking these days. She has made a difference in the lives of her own family through her commitment and success, but says it’s all about pouring back into the masses with the knowledge she has amassed over the course of 40 years.

You see, on December 31 – New Year’s Eve in 1979 at 9 o’ clock in the evening – McNeill’s life trajectory changed. That was the night she read the best selling book, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. The book changed her life and subsequently the lives of those around her.

In his book, Hill asked the reader some fundamental questions about their financial mindset and this caused McNeill to pause and prepare to get her finances in order.

“That was the beginning of a life-changing process for me,” McNeill recalled.

Prior to that night, she couldn’t understand how she’d done all the “right” things, such as go to college and get a good education, yet she was still broke. Things changed after that night.

After reading the book and working through the prompts and questions Hill posed in the book, her life changed for the better. And the rest, as they say, is history.

McNeill has gone on to amass great success, financial and otherwise. Her children and grandchildren have read the book as well as many in her circle of friends and family.

She even created a “mastermind” group to help others to reach their dreams and goals, and she has written a book on how to raise a baby billionaire, entitled the same.

Her grandson is a whiz kid thanks to the mindset she developed on that New Year’s Eve night many decades ago.

Today, she is not only the first black female contractor in the state of Florida to operate with billion dollar enterprises, but she has also found her niche in speaking and helping others.

It gives her a well-rounded, balanced life that makes her proud, but humbled.

“And that’s what it’s all about – reaching back and helping others to change their lives for the better,” she said. “That is sincerely gratifying.”