Meet the Team Behind the Mission: Q&A with Kevin Donnelly
In its mission to recruit companies and grow jobs, the REDI Cincinnati team amplifies our region’s unique story to national and international audiences. This series flips the script for a look at what makes these passionate economic development professionals tick — and what they love most about living and working in Greater Cincinnati.
While studying at NKU on a soccer scholarship, REDI Senior Manager of Business Development & Project Management Kevin Donnelly helped his team win a national championship — and he’s quick to point out it was vindication from losing in the final four two years earlier. Donnelly’s competitive spirit has only grown since then. The Sharonville native has traveled extensively abroad, spending a summer in Paris and another in Washington working for the DOD at the Pentagon before realizing that Greater Cincinnati offered everything he wanted, both personally and professionally.
Donnelly now lives in Newport, Kentucky, where he spends time outside of work exploring local breweries and restaurants, playing soccer and chasing his canine roommate, Bocephus.
What prompted you to explore a career in economic development?
While working for NKU’s VP of Government and Community Relations Joe Wind, I had a phenomenal experience learning about the nebulous intersection between nonprofits, social services, public, municipal work and private/for-profit work — all the things that overlap to spark economic development. At the same time, I’m hyper-competitive and I have traits that make me want to compete on a team with a level of ownership, accountability, and camaraderie. I think the combination of those things steered me toward a career in economic development.
What was your first introduction to REDI Cincinnati?
While still in college I learned about JobsOhio, which had just been created. As my career progressed, I moved on from the government side and began working with the NKY Chamber of Commerce, and later Northern Kentucky Tri-ED where I had the opportunity to learn about the impact of economic development projects. I was always interested in working with Johnna Reeder, someone I recognized as a leader and who was an early mentor of mine. REDI was just getting started and they were doing really amazing things, so I made sure to keep that line of communication open until I was fortunate enough to join the team.
How has your role changed since coming on board with REDI in 2016?
My role hasn’t changed too drastically. My focus on our business development efforts is more on aerospace and tech, and I work to support day-to-day management of domestic business development across all REDI targeted industries. Most importantly, I feel like I’m finally up to speed on REDI’s pace, so now I want to take more on and lead more complex projects. Kimm Lauterbach has been a phenomenal mentor. It’s been amazing to work with her and Johnna; any assistance or training that I or anyone asks for is provided.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
I like economic development, but I’m in love with the region. I appreciate the differences between neighborhoods like Florence and Sharonville and want to do everything I can to forge the right connections and help those communities grow. I don’t hear people say “no” too often in this region. The support between the business communities is just great. We really are only a cup of coffee away from anything we could want or need in the community. That makes it easy to get up in the morning and come to work.