By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
But Kelley also is a man on the move. When he isn’t teaching and mentoring students, he is heavily involved in the community – he has been chairman of Habitat for Humanity’s board of directors for the last two years, for example – and travels the world to educate himself and others. He recently returned from Africa, and he has been invited to give a presentation in Colombia in a few weeks.
Now he has found a new way to contribute to the Phoenix area, and it’s quite an honor: Kelley is in the latest class in the Valley Leadership Institute, which selects a diverse group of about 50 local leaders each year to participate in a nine-month program designed to look for solutions to the challenges facing Arizona.
The list of previous participants in the program, in its 40th year, includes governors and mayors. But it also attracts business and education leaders, such as Kelley, and he can’t wait to get started.
“People who apply to it have some sort of interest to be engaged in the community. Not everybody is interested in political office,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of business leaders who go into it and say, ‘What is going on? What are the critical issues? What do I need to be aware of? How can I have relationships that I can reach out to in case I have a question about something?’”
Kelley did a shorter, preliminary program with the Institute last year and discovered that, while political leaders are part of it, the agenda is not politically driven.
“It does not favor one party over another. It attempts to show everything with opposing viewpoints,” he said. “In today’s climate that’s so antagonistic, I find it very frustrating, the total bias that exists in most public mediums of communication, and the animosity that exists. This is, from what I saw with my first interaction with the group, a very civil way to learn about what is going on in the city.”
Kelley’s trip to Africa this summer included a tour of Kenya, where he visited with the parents of Lemmy Gitahi, former president of GCU’s IDEA Club, and a visit to South Africa. The key, for him, is to see all aspects of the culture, from the entrepreneurial advancements of Nairobi, Kenya, which he said has become a technology hub, to the slums and shantytowns that still are all too common.
“Everywhere we go, we go to preschools and universities, and we go to slums,” he said. “We look at property rights, we look at entrepreneurship, we look at technology, and we look at the way people are being taught in preschools.
“It’s amazing that these shantytowns still exist with garbage everywhere. There’s hope, but you look at it and say, ‘How does it persist?’”
Living conditions in the Valley are nowhere near as serious, but Kelley still wants to do what he can to alleviate problems through his work with the Leadership Institute.
And, of course, he is focused on his work at the University. Among his accomplishments in the academic year completed last spring was his leadership of the Canyon Angels, which invested more than $500,000 in local start-ups. Now he’s looking forward to doing even more in 2018-19.
“He’s all about GCU,” said Dr. Randy Gibb, the CCOB dean.
That, and a whole lot more.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.