Day 8 — Sarah Kenney

Top 10 Most Inspiring Women in the Greater Delaware Valley 2018

Jane Clark | Creative Director & Owner Teakettica LLC
Jane Clark, Creative Director &
Owner of Teakettica

Why We Chose Sarah Kenney

“Full disclosure, I consider Sarah to be a good friend. I met her at a wedding some 8 or 9 years ago. Since then, our lives always manage to come together and we have many mutual friends. Anyone who knows Sarah also knows she is pretty inspirational. She is someone I deeply admire as both a business professional and a thought leader. Recognized as a DBT40 Honoree from the Delaware Business Times and a Leadership Delaware Scholar is just the tip of the iceberg that is Sarah’s accomplishments. President of the board of Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation (who I have the pleasure of working with on the event committee) and Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Nemours are just a couple more things that this girl juggles.

Yet, the thing that impresses me the most is that she rocked the business world and bought a house before even getting married. She stands on her own two feet. This is an amazing individual that is fiercely independent, intelligent, and spends every day connecting people. I am so thrilled that she is receiving recognition so well deserved and I’m proud to call her a friend as she brings positivity wherever she goes.

Jane Clark Signature

Sarah Kenney

Nemours Fund for Children’s Health | Marketing & Communications Coordinator
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Sarah Kenney |Day 8 Top 10 Inspiring Women 2018 | Teakettica LLC

Tell us a little bit about what you do at Nemours

I am the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Nemours Fund for Children’s Health, which is the fundraising arm of Nemours. I’m based in Wilmington, Del. at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, though I work with team members at our Florida sites as well. I oversee all communications in support of fundraising for Nemours in the Delaware Valley. I manage newsletters, media relations, advertising, collateral from cases of support to annual reports, video production, executive speaking points, etc. At Nemours, I also co-lead the Women’s Associate Resource group, which has two goals – to provide female associates professional development opportunities, and to consult with the executive team on how the workplace culture could be improved to better support us.

How do you achieve work/life balance, especially when you are also involved in the community?

HA! Ha. Ha. Ha. Um. I haven’t “achieved” that yet. I could talk about this forever. When your work excites you, and when it feeds your personal mission, it’s actually energizing to work on it… but still, there are limits. When it FEELS like work… like an obligation… I have to try to stop and take a breather. But it’s hard. When people are relying on you… it’s hard to put the laptop down. The solution is (and I’m trying to work on this, particularly for my board) to create an environment where you are not actually needed for 80% of the work. But creating that sort of environment is constant work in itself. I think the key is knowing yourself — knowing what drains you and what brings you back to life. So, for me… I’m an introvert. And a lot of my job is engaging with people. Which I love doing! But I know it drains me. So, my recovery is alone time. So, sometimes I wake up early for that. Or take the dog for a walk for that. Or just run a bath and think exclusively about bubbles for 20 minutes. Just know yourself. And take care of yourself. I’m far from perfect in this area. But I’m working on it.

What advice would you give to young women who are entering the workforce?

Respect both the philosophy “you’ll understand when you’re older” AND “nothing changes if nothing changes.” Both are right. You’ll smash into a brick wall of resistance if you go into (most) workplaces full-steam without listening first. But at the same time, don’t let any of your superiors (and yes, I mean ANY of them) negate your well-reasoned ideas. There is a place for them. Find that place or work to build it yourself. You can do a lot of good before you “know better.”

Give a shout out to a woman or women who you consider to be your mentor(s)

I’d like to shout out to Michelle Morin, who is the Executive Director of the Office of Supplier Diversity for the State of Delaware. She has been my mentor for more than five years, always connecting me to changemakers and pushing me to grow and develop out of my comfort zone, and into my full potential. And, though he’s a man (shhh), I’d like to shout out my husband, Dave, who supports me in all that I do. Even when it means I’m occasionally late to dinner. A lot. Thanks, babe.

Tell us about Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation and your role as board chair.

The Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation provides scholarships to women who are going back to college to get their undergraduate degrees. There a lot of scholarships (though never enough, I know) for students who go straight to college from high school. But not a lot for adults who had to take a break in between, and especially not for women, who often need additional support. We support women in New Castle, Kent, and Sussex counties who are going to any accredited college or university in Delaware. Earlier this year, in July 2018, we reached $1M in scholarships awarded since we were founded in 1996. We have supported more than 250 women in reaching their goal of an undergraduate degree. But more than scholarships, we have provided mentorship and support. Each scholar is linked to a mentor, to help them in their academic journey. Because we know that our scholars have jobs, families, community responsibilities, and more. So, we surround them with support and celebrate each milestone.

I have served on the board since 2014, and was elected board chair in July 2017. As such, I lead our volunteer board of about 16 people, with our programmatic, marketing, and fundraising goals. It’s a tremendous amount of work, but I get to see the difference we are making every day. And I love it.

Tell us about your experience with Leadership Delaware, and how you plan to use what you have learned in the future.

Leadership Delaware was an incredible experience. It’s a year-long development program that takes early- to mid-career professionals to the next level, introducing them to leaders across the corporate, nonprofit, and government sector. While in the program, I refined my public speaking skills, challenged my long-held political beliefs, and learned about an incredible range of topics, including education, the financial sector, local government, etc. I learned how the state government sets its annual budget and the process of passing a state law. I also witnessed a variety of leadership styles and continued to hone my idea of what I want my leadership to look like today and into the future. I plan to take what I’ve learned to increase my impact in the nonprofit and potentially government sector. Stay tuned!

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

This might sound unusual, but I think my greatest accomplishment was buying my first house — a cute blue townhome — in 2014. And I think the reason I consider it my greatest accomplishment was because I truly prioritized myself to make that happen. I tend to prioritize all of the tasks I need to do for others, but purchasing a house on my own was an intense process with MYSELF at the center. I was very proud. My cats, previously quite cramped, were also grateful.

What change do you want to see in the world, and how are you aiding that cause?

I want to see women feel empowered to achieve their dream careers. I see a lot of women holding back, feeling “unqualified.” And then less qualified candidates actually get the job, because they were unencumbered by doubt. Women are often incredible “informal” leaders. And that’s important. But they still make up a minuscule amount of the formal leaders in the major sectors of our economy, including the sectors where they are well represented in the middle ranks (education, healthcare, nonprofits in general, etc.). This work is two-fold. It involves changing the environment, meaning the workplace culture and the unconscious bias that exists among current leadership. And it involves getting women the coaching and development they need to take the informed risks that are required for growth. I’m trying to make a dent in both of those areas in both my “two lives” – both at Nemours and at the Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation.

Coming up tomorrow is day 9!

More 2018 Most Inspiring Women

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