Meet Kelly Updike, Our Newest Guest Blogger for ‘A Fundraiser’s Journey’ series

We’re so happy to introduce you to our newest guest blogger, Kelly Updike, executive director of the Embassy Theatre.Kelly pic

Kelly will be sharing her experience with you through, “A Fundraiser’s Journey” a monthly series on fundraising.

While many of you may already know Kelly, let us introduce you here, through some brief – and entertaining! – Q&A’s.

Enjoy Kelly’s answers to questions about her work, life and our community.  And look forward to her first post for “A Fundraiser’s Journey” on Friday!

Meet Kelly Updike!

1. What nonprofit do you serve in our community?
As executive director of the Embassy Theatre, I have the most awesome job of helping to preserve and protect a beautiful and historic facility. I am amazed every day by how many people love the Embassy. It means they have a personal attachment that holds them close to the building. I get to help create those memories. Pretty cool.

2. How do you do your job?
Sometimes I wonder! Seriously, there are many plates to keep spinning, same as with any nonprofit leader. When I worked at Lincoln Financial, I learned the value of working within a team as well as the benefit of delegating when you are the team leader. I try to start each week with a list of what must get done, what needs to get started and who-all has to do what to make it all happen – and then work like heck to see if I can check-mark everything on the list.

3. What is your favorite part of your work?
I’m going to cheat and describe two favorite parts. The first is obviously the honor to work in one of the most beautiful places in this region. Walking up the slate stairs with colorful tiles built into the risers just makes my day. The second is that each day is very different. Although I usually have a plan for each day (see question #2), I rarely get to fully complete it and have learned to write my lists in pencil.

4. How did you come by this work?
It sounds a bit silly in this Internet age, but I answered a newspaper ad for the job. I had to convince a large search committee of board members that it was a terrific fit: working hard for a nonprofit that many people adore and one that still had some room to grow. I did not have any experience in managing a theater but I did have a strong background in nonprofits, staffing, communications, project management and budgets. And I love to learn new things.

5. What is your favorite thing about our community?
Fort Wayne is my hometown and where my husband and I raised our kids, so I’ve seen it from many angles. It is a big city with a small-town heart. There are many affordable and quality things to do. The people are friendly. The community and businesses are diverse.

6. What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
Well, right now, it’s got a lot of fresh fruit in it, hoorah for summer. A year or so ago when we had a power outage, I had to clean out all the items that didn’t make it past the two or three days we were without electricity. I threw out 15 jars of pickles. How we accumulated that many pickles – and didn’t know we had them – is still a mystery.

Kreiger7. Do you have any pets?
We are dog lovers. Our current dog is a black Labrador-retriever mix pup obtained from Animal Care & Control a few years ago, where they gave him the name of Kreiger. We may love him more than we love our children. We were warned he was very smart and needed lots of training.

Well, he had to take Kinder-Puppy classes twice and still he jumps on people and bites other dogs in the butt. He is Mr. Bossy around our house and there is nothing better than coming home from a long, long day and seeing that huge wagging tail.

Oh, and we also have a fish, a big gold Cyclid. It was left at home four years ago by our younger daughter when she exited for college. It has no name but when I nearly killed it by not keeping the tank clean enough (honestly, it came with no instructions!), I cried every day for a week until it recovered.

8. If you won the lottery, how would your life change?
“Life’s Been Good” sung by Joe Walsh is one of my favorite pop songs and this piece of lyric says it all:

It’s tough to handle this fortune and fame
Everybody’s so different, I haven’t changed

Makes me smile every time! However, I hope I would be just like a couple from Portland, Maine, whom I never met but were the hottest topic in the country for a solid week about 10 or so years ago. When I was annuities media relations manager at Lincoln, an employee and her husband won millions of dollars with a Powerball ticket. A national media storm ensued and I had to fend off reporters and bookers coast to coast.

It was a fun week! This couple donated a fire truck to their township, made gifts to family and friends and the only personal thing they wanted was a new pick-up truck, it had to be in the color of red. They also immediately hired an attorney and accountant to handle the tough stuff. What a classy couple. I want to be like them and not so much like the Joe Walsh song.

I work at the Embassy. Everything here, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Embassy or the Allen County Public Library.

9 thoughts on “Meet Kelly Updike, Our Newest Guest Blogger for ‘A Fundraiser’s Journey’ series

    • Yes, six jars of pickles were won by my husband at the very creative and well-run Turnstone Casino Night! FYI that Nancy is a fundraising superstar!


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