Niki Kelly spreads awareness of the need for inclusion and cultural competency in our community. She shares Community Tampa Bay’s values of diversity and inclusion. “I also value equality, dialogue, and an informed population. Some people discount the brilliance of youth, the next generation of leaders.” Niki is, however, not one to dismiss the power of youth.
She is a regular guest speaker during Coming Out Star, one of the workshops that takes place during the youth leadership and diversity program, ANYTOWN™. Like many of the other lineups at ANYTOWN™, Coming Out Star offers different perspectives into the lives of people in our community. This workshop shares the coming out process for LGBTQ youth. Niki has also helped to compile the volunteer risk management policy, train volunteer staff on risk management, and she has photographed countless events. She donates to CTB and encourages her co-workers to do the same.
Niki works as the Director of Integration Programs at Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (GCJFCS) for the last 10 years. GCJFCS’ mission is to provide essential human services to individuals and families in times of need. She uses her cultural awareness to provide skills and resources needed to navigate the community. The GCJFCS includes diverse programs such as the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture and the Adele Gilbert Residential Treatment Program.
“The first question I always ask myself and others I work with is, how does this affect all the people we serve? Inclusion is interwoven into everything I do.”
Niki has practice in conducting meaningful cross-cultural dialogue. As someone who has been leading cultural competency trainings for several organizations over the past nine years, she is more comfortable around a diverse group of people. She even works on cultivating an atmosphere of inclusion whenever there is a lack. She credits Community Tampa Bay for cultivating her patience and desire to “be intentional” with her words and actions. Niki, like many of the ANYTOWN™ graduates, are better able to approach every situation calmly with the goal of generating meaningful dialogue. “All people should have their voice. I always learn something new in the process.”
Other than a shared vision of a community free from all forms of discrimination, Niki Kelly has other reasons for being loyal to CTB. “What I walk away with most often is this reaffirming sense that it is a great thing that I live my life true to my unique self. The best thing that I get out of volunteering at ANYTOWN™ is seeing when the youth realize it is okay to be who they are. I’m also treated like a rock star every time I walk through the door!”
Niki attended the University of South Florida and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology, a minor in Psychology, and later a Masters in Management. Within the last five years, the native Floridian relit a fire for cycling and often rides up to 85 miles in one day. She is a self-proclaimed “serious person”, but in her downtime she watches sappy romantic comedies and, of course, dialogues with her cat.
Written by Amber Carles Klee with edits by Nadia Rumbolt