Catherine Kelly is President and CEO of cjk inc in Kansas City, Missouri. As a 2020 Connect Sports Game Changer, she discusses her passion for sports tourism.
How I got here: Prior to starting my own business, I was vice president of community services for the Archer Foundation from 2010 to 2017. I worked with select nonprofits in the Kansas City community as a volunteer and advisor, helping them set and achieve their strategic and business development goals. The Archer Foundation started after Archer Technologies sold in 2010. I spent a decade there, initially as the startup’s marketing and public relations head. I then moved into heading up the Community Services initiative until the sale and moving over to the foundation. The past decade has been spent growing nonprofits and small businesses.
Why I am a Game Changer: As a NAGAAA board member, I was fortunate to be on the team that planned and executed the Gay Softball World Series (Austin 2016, Portland 2017, Tampa 2018 and Kansas City 2019). The GSWS is one of the largest gay, weeklong, single-sporting events in North America and I was responsible for raising more than $1 million (cash and in-kind) for NAGAAA and its member cities during my four years on the board—all in a volunteer capacity. Overall the event has a $9 to $11 million economic impact on the host community.
I am proud of organizing: The GSWS because it is more than just an annual sporting event. It is an opportunity for NAGAAA members (from 46 member cities in North America) to gather each year—like a huge family reunion. Unfortunately, not all 17,000 family members attend, but 5,000 of them do.
Impressive stats: As the Women’s Employment Network Marketing Chair, I worked with a small team to turn this year’s 1,200 in-person luncheon into a virtual event, which premiered on YouTube April 14, 2020, and has close to 1,000 views.
What’s next? Much like the 2020 WEN luncheon, I am working to assist a few other organizations to make their events virtual this year. Also, plans are being made to keep a virtual component in the mix moving forward for events. For example, since we have maxed out capacity at our current luncheon venue, and would need to double our attendance to move to another venue (not ready to make the leap), keeping the virtual component would enable more people to experience the luncheon than ever before.
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