Friday Ombudsman: Dr. Amber Kelly


The Friday Ombudsman this week is Amber Kelly. She is a community psychologist with a passion for community engagement. She is a Cincinnati native who lived in other metropolitan areas working on initiatives to eliminate inequalities among disenfranchised populations before returning home to impact change in our community.  Amber is a People’s Liberty grantee and there is more information at the end about her passion project Community Engagement Collective (CEC).      

Name: Dr. Amber Kelly

Residential Neighborhood: Kennedy Heights                                       

Share one of your favorite Cincinnati-area hacks, i.e., a trick, shortcut or skill that helps you get things done faster &/or better:

One of the great things about Cincinnati is that everyone has a connection to someone.  It is easy to get introduced to people that you would like to get to know better.

People are willing to collaborate if you share the same passion. Cincinnati is a great place to build your network. It is challenging but also a necessity to step out of your comfort zone and be open to the possibility of new relationships. If you need help, tap into who you know and they can connect you to who you don't.

Dirty Dozen of Networking 

Cincinnati has a small town feel with some big city perks. Networking here is easier since everyone is connected. I had the challenge of being away for about a decade and once I returned I had to build a network. The following are a few tips I have used when networking in Cincy:

The Dirty Dozen of Networking 

1.      Be Uncomfortable                    

Allow yourself to get emerged in new environments that will challenge and push you. Try an event that is outside of your comfort zone. Sit next to someone new and introduce yourself.  

2.      Are You the Only One

We all love to think that we are the first to embark on an innovative idea. Sometimes we are not, and that is okay.  Get to know others that share your passion and interests. It is an easy way to learn from others and perhaps build a lasting relationship. 

3.      Say No to Yes People

It is great to have supportive people around you.  However, if no one around you is willing to challenge your perspective, then that limits how far your ideas can go. 

4.      Openness to Learning

Everyone has strengths. Be open to learning from others. It will give you insights that you never saw coming.

5.      Every Meeting Matters

Try to meet with new people on an ongoing basis.  Come to each meeting with an intention.  Make sure to close the session by getting recommendations on other connections you should make.

6.      Have a Presence

It is always said to put on your best presentation regardless of who is in your presence. What would someone say about you when you enter and exit a room?  Make sure the impact you want to have is what you are giving off.  

7.      Mentor Match

Identify people who are where you want to be and make them your mentors. There is nothing wrong with having multiple mentors. Choose mentors that have skill sets you do not have and who want to serve as a mentor. Make the expectations of your mentor  relationship clear to ensure that there is a good fit.

8.      Share Your Gifts

We all have strengths that others deserve to experience.  Imagine how impactful communities can be if everyone was open and willing to share their gifts.   

9.      Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Cincy is full of so many awesome people, and it can feel like others are better than you.  Always remember to own your greatness and do not accept less than what you deserve from others. 

10.  Flexibility is Key

It is so easy to get attached to a vision. Sometimes that vision needs a few changes to get to the next level. Be open to allow that vision to evolve into something great.

11.  Be Persistent

Someone whom you would like to connect with does not respond to an email so send follow up emails.  Even consider attending events that you think the person might be in attendance. Do not give up. Sometimes it takes a few attempts to make that connection.

12.  Support Others

Be willing to give what you would like to receive. If you want others to support your work, then you should show the same support. Attend events and promote others' projects via social media. The work of others matters and is worthy of support.  


Your favorite Cincinnati places?

There are so many great places in the city to learn and build relationships with others.  I decided to highlight those that have allowed me to connect with others and receive inspiration from their work in the community.

I have had the opportunity to attend some great events and meet thought-leaders that are invested in highlighting the beauty within our city.  Whenever I am here, I am always challenged to push myself to the next level.

People's Liberty 1805 Elm St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Crossroads Oakley 3500 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45209

During the day, Crossroads Oakley is open to anyone who wants to come in and enjoy a warm beverage. It is one of my favorite places to meet others.  I have made some powerful connections over tea and coffee.

Starfire 5030 Oaklawn Dr., Cincinnati 45227

It is an opportunity to engage with others and help implement meaningful local initiatives. Starfire hosts weekly community conversations that highlight neighborhood activation projects.

What is an “unwritten public etiquette rule” of Cincinnati-area life?

Cincinnati natives are expected to be Bengals fans. If you are not a Bengals fan, do not make that known. Especially do not wear Steelers gear around Bengals fans. The passion of fans is a strong force. Non- Bengals fans must proceed with caution.

Defunct place or institution you would bring back?

As a kid, I loved going to the movies in my neighborhood of Bond Hill.  Once the Showcase Cinemas closed, there was not a close replacement option.  Now, moviegoers have to travel outside of their community to enjoy a movie. I would bring back local movie theaters to bring people in the community together within their neighborhood.

What place do we need in the Cincinnati area?

Cincinnati has a diversity of sports options for any aficionado.  I would love if Cincy had an NBA team. I have had the opportunity to live in multiple metropolitan cities and my favorite past time was going to the basketball games.  Returning home, I can no longer enjoy that activity without traveling. There is nothing like going to an NBA game. The spirit of the crowd and excitement of the game makes for an unforgettable experience. If that opportunity comes to Cincinnati, I would love to help pick a team name and mascot.

If they would just make me mayor for a day, I would: "have ________ people switch places with ________."

If they would just make me mayor for a day, I would have homeless individuals switch places with executives in the for-profit and nonprofit sector.  I think this would help bring more awareness to the importance of ensuring that everyone has access to housing and support resources. Perhaps bring together two people that may have never connected to collaborate to impact change in Cincy.

You should have asked me: "What can we do to make Cincinnati more inclusive?"

Shameless Plug – use this space to plug one local Cincinnati-area event/organization/website/business/place/product that is special to you. Why should we know about it? What makes it singular?

Community Engagement Collective (CEC) is a community-based nonprofit organization serving Cincinnati communities. The mission of (CEC) is to empower communities to engage face-to-face.  CEC creates opportunities for community engagement for individuals, families, and communities to challenge inequalities and transform society.

Our flagship program, FamilyFlickn, was initially funded by People’s Liberty as a pilot initiative.  FamilyFlickn strives to bring communities and families together by participating in a free pop-up movie on party buses in communities that lack access to a movie theater. The positive response from community members drove the creation of CEC and the development of additional opportunities that focus on bringing community members together to thrive. Our Dare2Dialogue initiative is a discussion surrounding a community topic and proposed strategies for addressing issues of inequality.  During 2018, Dare2Dialogue events focused on bringing awareness to the importance of inclusion. Since 2017, 271 community members have engaged in FamilyFlickn and Dare2Dialogue events.

**Update 5-18-19: The Community Engagement Collective is sponsoring this interesting event The Power of Privilege, Wednesday May 29th, 5:30 p.m. at People’s Liberty. Get your free tickets here .

power of.jpg

Learn more about Community Engagement Collective (CEC) here

See charming video of Family Flickn here

Read prior Friday Ombudsman posts:

Regina Carswell Russo

Rachel Hastings

Fred Neurohr