Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Emergent Sage Leadership: Interview of Cristine Kelly

Emergent Sage Leadership: Interview of Cristine Kelly

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Interview Conducted by Brian Buckley

[Note: This interview is one of 100 conducted in Nevada County, California by Gary Quehl and his colleagues. One half of the interviews were conducted with “emerging sage leaders” (Christine Kelly being one of these senior sage leaders). The other 50 interviews were conducted with “senior sage leaders” in Nevada County. All of those who were interviewed are actively involved in the ongoing development of their community.]

You have been identified by friends and colleagues as one of our community’s 50 top emerging sage leaders. A sage leader is a person who brings unusual experience, sound judgment, and wisdom in working to advance the civic well-being of our community.

1. To begin, how many years have you lived in Nevada County? Where in the county do you reside?

I moved to Nevada County in 1993, so it’s been 17 years. I now live in Grass Valley, but when my first husband and I moved here we lived in Penn Valley, in a trailer on horse property. Our daughter, Matisse, was born while living there.  She likes to say she was born in a trailer down by the river!

Christine Kelly

2. May I ask how old you are?  46

3.   If you would, please share a bit about your personal history: where you grew-up; where you went to school and college; what organizations you have worked for and the positions you have held.

I was born in Philadelphia, and lived there until I was eight, at which time we moved to Connecticut.  I lived in an abusive family and left home at 16 to work on a horse farm. I had ridden horses for much of my life by that time, and they were my sanctuary away from family problems.

After a year of decompressing, I decided it was time for college.  At 17 I moved to Boston and enrolled in night school at Harvard. I earned straight A’s and actually matriculated to Harvard, but given my lack family support I felt conflicted and didn’t have the discipline to continue. I was a good writer, but not a “studier.” I took a semester off and worked at a restaurant in Cambridge, where there was a plethora of creative artists and writers. Then I enrolled in UMass in Boston. Where I came from had been an issue at Harvard; I felt I was always trying to be someone I wasn’t. At UMass, with its urban demographics and sense of community, I felt more comfortable. I fell in love with philosophy and logic and developed a mentoring relationship with a professor whom I still stay in touch with. My writing bloomed, and I even contributed a few essays and poetry to some prestigious Boston area literary magazines.

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