Dear Kelli, Thank You.

“When you finally reach your star you realize how very tall the people are whose shoulders you are standing on.”

This week is different from any other week over the past 13 years.  For the first time in more than a decade Kelli Kanemoto didn’t go to work at Foothills United Way (FHUW).  I met Kelli when I got my first “real” job in Boulder as the Administrative Assistant at FHUW.  We became fast friends as I moved on from the organization and then, years later, came back to FHUW to launch the Nonprofit Cultivation Center. All that time, Kelli championed me.

We all need champions.

Kelli was not only a champion of me but also of so many nonprofits- big and small- as well as nonprofit staff in Boulder County. Her impact on the nonprofit community has been profound and I’m sure it will be felt for the next decade to come. Just as it will be with me. Kelli is a mere phone call (and, frankly, a coffee date) away but more often I hear her voice inside my head reminding me to turn on my “workplace filter” or inspiring me with her wit, wisdom and ability to not take things too seriously. She’s a rockstar.

Thank you, Kelli.  Thank you for keeping it real, for knowing when to call in the troops, and when to get a drink. You proved to me that work can be both meaningful and fun, a lesson that is priceless. So today I raise my glass to you for all that you have given to me and as a promise that we will raise our glasses together many times to come.