Karen Kelly

Project Communications Manager WB Engineers+Consultants

Karen Kelly
  • Member, Special Events Committee
We are certainly starting the year off right with January’s Member of the Month selection. As the Project Communications Manager for WB Engineers + Consultants, Karen Kelly is a valued asset to our chapter. She offers sound advice, incredible organizational skills, and fun! The fun aspect is most appreciated during her contribution to the Special Events Committee for the annual holiday parties, award galas and spirits. Her enthusiasm for our profession is an encouragement and her dedication is to be emulated. Let’s read below as Karen has shared some thoughts and ideas with us.

[expand title=”Click here to read the interview…”] Where are you from originally and what brought you to New York City? I’m originally from Philadelphia. Northeast Philadelphia, to be more specific. My old neighborhood gained a tiny bit of reality-TV fame a few years ago when, for some odd reason, there was a show that featured Tony Danza teaching classes at Northeast High School, which is a few blocks away from where I grew up. My Philadelphia roots are still pretty strong—I have a lot of friends and family there. My father has been actively involved in Philadelphia politics for decades. He’s the more recent former City Councilman named Jack Kelly. (Back in the `70s/early `80s, Philadelphia had a different City Councilman named Jack Kelly—Grace’s brother. So, I don’t have any royal relatives in Monaco, but that’s okay—I’m extremely proud of what my dad accomplished in Philadelphia, and I also think my family must be much more fun!) I moved to New York in September 1997, when my best friend from high school found an apartment in the Gramercy Park area and needed a roommate. I was ready for a change of scenery so I agreed to make the move, and I’ve been in the city ever since. My first NYC job—as a marketing coordinator for a licensing agency that represented World Championship Wrestling—gave me an interesting introduction to the city. Two or three times I found myself sharing a limousine with Mean Gene Okerlund, a wrestling announcer I remembered my brother watching on TV when we were kids, and I’d realize what a unique and surreal place NYC can sometimes be. And (continuing the Tony Danza theme) since my first NYC job was near Central Park and I didn’t have a watch or a cell phone, I sometimes gauged my lunch hour based on the number of times Tony Danza rollerbladed by. (Two Danza sightings and it was time to go back to work.) What motivated you to join the Special Events Committee and what is the committee currently working on? When I first got involved in SMPS, I was part of the Membership Committee, which became responsible for putting together the Spirits with SMPS networking events when those began in 2006. I liked being involved in planning informal happy-hour get-togethers, so I transitioned over to the Special Events committee when Special Events took over Spirits a few years ago. I really like being part of an enthusiastic committee that organizes fun and memorable events like the Holiday Party and the Awards Gala, in addition to Spirits. Now that the 2014 Holiday Party is over, it’s time for our committee to concentrate on the Awards Gala 2015. We’ll have a lot to do for that, including selecting the event venue, catering, etc., as well as the preliminary push for the awards nominations, applications, submissions, and judging. If you could choose any other profession what would it be and why? Travel writer/blogger. I enjoy writing and traveling, so I’d love to be able to combine the two. I think it would be great to be paid by Fodor’s, Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, Travelocity, etc. to explore the world, see a lot of amazing sites, experience what different places have to offer, and write about my experiences/recommendations. Who is your SMPS mentor? I can’t really single out a specific SMPS “mentor,” per se, but I’ve met a lot of great people through SMPS over the years, and I’ve really enjoyed the supportive, positive environment that SMPS fosters. I’m grateful that Nadine Roper encouraged me to join SMPS when I worked for her at STV. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great committee directors, including Michelle Galindez, Michelle Westgate, and Sarah Galus. And of course I have to give a shout out to our current SMPS-NY President, Julie Pampuch. A while ago when I worked at RBSD and was Director of the SMPS Membership Committee, Julie and I used to chat about SMPS (and other things) as we rode the subway downtown together after Board meetings. Since Julie brought me on board at WB a few years ago, I now get to be impressed every day by watching her skillfully juggle her numerous SMPS presidential duties while directing very creative marketing initiatives for WB. Altogether, the relationships I’ve established through SMPS have been an essential part of my career, and I’m also happy that there are so many people I’ve met through SMPS whom I consider friends. What are some challenges that you face daily in your career and how do you overcome them? For some reason the expression “herding cats” comes to mind. (Maybe I’m just turning into a crazy cat lady?) Trying to pull information from different people who are all extremely busy in order to get decisions made, meet deadlines, etc., is always challenging. I think that this can be overcome by a combination of organization, friendly persistence, and prioritization—figuring out when to raise the red flag and when to take a step back and give people some time to respond with the necessary information. And it definitely helps that I work with a great team at WB! [/expand]