Kelli Prater, Kennett Collaborative’s new Community Engagement Manager, is embracing the opportunity to get to know and support the many different individuals and organizations that make up the wonderfully diverse Kennett community.
“I’m so grateful to be here and working in a community and an organization like this,” Kelli says. “The best organizations allow you to bring your whole self to work, and I’ve finally found a place where I can do that. I’m looking forward to connecting with people in the community, to hearing their stories, and to connecting them with one another.” Over the years Kelli has found Kennett to be a safe haven in hard times, a place where she could come and feel at home. “There’s an incredible warmth and authenticity among people here,” she says.
Kelli brings years of experience with nonprofits and small businesses to her new position. “I’ve done everything from event planning and marketing to sorting out the nitty-gritty details,” she says. Her heart for supporting small business owners comes from a very personal connection, too. “Growing up, my grandparents owned a small business, and I watched them pour heart and soul into their dream,” she says. “I know how difficult it can be, and how hard small business owners work. I’m looking forward to thinking through some unique ways Kennett Collaborative can support small business owners—and to hearing from them what that might look like.”
Kelli is also excited about working with staff and committee members to plan and implement Kennett Collaborative events, including Kennett Winterfest and Brewfest. “I’ve always been attracted to communal effervescence,” she says. “The experience of people coming together is very special and life-giving.” She references a quote by Parker Palmer: “Community doesn’t just create abundance—community is abundance.” Those words, she says, immediately brought Kennett to mind.
Although Kelli has spent most of her life in Chester County—apart from her time in Pittsburgh studying at Duquesne University—her die-hard allegiance to the Chicago Cubs is a vestige of her midwestern roots. She ßßloves spending time with her daughters Madelyn (12) and Avery (9), as well as with friends and extended family. “I enjoy being outdoors and finding beautiful new places to walk,” she says. Other hobbies include baking, reading, and listening to podcasts. “I also enjoy travel, and planning travel—especially planning where to eat!” she says with a laugh.
Learning about the enneagram, an ancient personality typing system, has been transformative for Kelli, and she participates in an enneagram and contemplative practice cohort at Suzanne Stabile’s center in Dallas. “The enneagram has helped me view both myself and others in a more empathetic way,” she says. “I’m a type 9 on the enneagram, which is the peacemaker. Nines can see the validity of everyone’s stories, opinions, and points of view, and we love to hold space for all of that.” It’s taken a lot of work to understand, access, and have clarity around that part of herself, she says, and she sees the value of those characteristics in her new role at Kennett Collaborative.
“Kelli has talked about how this position has come at the right time for her and, likewise, we feel that she’s the right fit at the right time for this position,” says Kennett Collaborative Executive Director Bo Wright. “She brings experience, skills, and fresh, creative ideas that will help us not only strengthen existing relationships in the community but also build new ones as we start a new year with our new brand. Kelli will build on the strong foundation laid by her predecessor, Claire Murray, as she works to ensure that all Kennett Collaborative events, as well as our social media presence and community outreach and engagement activities, reflect and advance our vision to help Kennett become a more beautiful and welcoming community where all can belong and prosper.” These mutually beneficial and supportive relationships with local nonprofits and small business owners are at the heart of Kennett Collaborative’s work, Wright says.
Peter Maurin, social activist and cofounder of the Catholic Worker Movement, talks about creating a world in which it is easier for people to do good, Kelli says. “I believe that’s the end goal of Kennett Collaborative, and I’m excited to help create that world together with people in this community.”
While she’s looking forward to meeting and connecting with people in the community in person over the coming months, in the meantime, Kelli says, “I’ll be the one on Kennett Collaborative social media. So please say hi!”