Kelly Otte: A life dedicated to empowering women
By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook
A Florida native, Kelly Otte has been unselfishly giving her time, talent, and resources to the Tallahassee community since 1996. Her personal and professional passion for empowering women makes it hard to distinguish where one stops and the other starts. She is being recognized as the Capital Outlook’s Person of the Week for her major contributions throughout most of her adult life to Tallahassee’s quality of life, as a passionate advocate for improving the conditions of women and girls.
She earned both her B.A. in Criminal Justice and her Master in Public Administration from the University of North Florida. She has made Tallahassee her home since the mid 1990s and her family is part of the fabric of our community.
She became Executive Director of Refuge House, Inc.,Tallahassee’s Domestic Violence Shelter with outreach offices in seven other counties, in 1996. She was the right leader at the right time. In addition to skillfully handling the challenges of managing two emergency shelters and building on services for women and children seeking refuge there, she added her powerful voice to advocate for local ordinances that required more legal protection for women when police responded to domestic violence calls. She initiated and opened a Refuge House Thrift Store, as a for-profit venture, and led the $2.3 million Capital Campaign that funded the construction of a new 11,000 square foot shelter and a 4,000 square foot childcare facility to support the needs of women and children housed at the shelter. Throughout, she continued to develop training and resources to help women at the shelter gain the confidence and skills for successful, independent lives for themselves and their children.
In 2005, Kelly became President of Action Consulting, Inc. providing training and resources for non-profit organizations, while also being a founding member of United Partners for Human Services where she was a Board member and became the first Executive Director. During the same time, she was also serving as an adjunct professor for both the FSU Askew School of Public Administration and the FSU College of Social Work. In 2007, she founded the Oasis Center for Women and Girls and was selected Executive Director. It was due in large part to her tireless efforts and vision that Oasis continues to thrive today with excellent summer camps for girls and the very successful Women Can Run Project that empowers and trains women leaders to step into the roles of elected leadership in their community. It is a non-partisan organization that will sponsor its first national conference here in Tallahassee September 1-3.
Kelly is currently Executive Director of Tallahassee’s PACE Center for Girls, one of 19 centers in Florida. Her positive, visionary leadership is a perfect match for the needs of the girls served by the Center in overcoming obstacles and family challenges toward success in school and life. It should surprise no one that Kelly is never satisfied dedicating herself to one important mission at a time. So it is understandable that she has been a columnist for the Tallahassee Democrat Newspaper in the midst of all her other achievements. She writes a weekly column titled “Notes on Non-Profits”.
Thank you, Kelly. All of our lives have been made richer by your dedication and hard work.
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