Today's Chicago Woman has named The Chicago Reporter Publisher Kimbriell Kelly to its prestigous list of the city's 100 Women to Watch for 2012.
"When I first found out, I thought it was really nice and sweet. When I saw who the other 99 women were, it was humbling," said Kelly. "All these women whom I admire, people I had interviewed, people I see on TV."
Kelly was nominated by former Reporter publisher and well-known Chicago journalist Laura Washington. Washington says she chose Kelly for her upbeat personality, but also her networking prowess.
"Kimbriell Kelly brings charm, savvy and a keen news sense to the investigative reporting scene in Chicago," said Washington. "She is skilled at carving out new relationships for The Chicago Reporter in many arenas, from the funding and media worlds to civic leadership."
Although they've both spent years at the Reporter, Kelly and Washington never overlapped. Despite this, Kelly says Washington reached out to her as a mentor and friend, encouraging her to step into the spotlight and believe in herself.
"I've always been the number two person or the person behind the scenes who makes the leader look really good," said Kelly. "A couple of years ago, I started taking ownership. I'm really happy to have people like Laura to remind me of what I need to do and to build me up in the background."
Kelly says she's not just grateful to be chosen as one of Chicago's Women to Watch, but glad that publications like TCW celebrate successful women in the workplace.
"It acknowledges the great work that they're doing. I think that women aren't always appreciated for the work that they do," said Kelly. "It's great to have a publication like TCW affirming them in areas where they may not hear it all the time."
What does Kelly have to say to younger women, particularly those in media, who want to make their mark?
"When I was initially a young reporter, trying to figure out who I was, there weren't a lot of women in the upper level ranks of management," said Kelly. "I think what I would tell women is keep pushing that glass ceiling and breaking beyond it because there are people behind you that are hoping that you will. They need to be inspired, motivated and mentored. It's necessary for a future that's equitable and better for everyone."
With Kelly at the Reporter's helm, Chicago can count on a more equitable future for everyone.
"Her leadership has helped the Reporter thrive as a singular watchdog for the city’s less advantaged," said Washington. "She will always be watching on their behalf."
Photo credit: Lucio Villa