Fidelity P.O.W.E.R.

Fidelity P.O.W.E.R.

Jennifer Kelley Serves A P.O.W.E.R.ful Taste of Hospitality Through The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation

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What’s Your P.O.W.E.R. Move?

“My P.O.W.E.R. move is hand-written notes. You’ve probably heard this before, but a simple hand-written note is very impactful. You can order custom branded notecards, or simply get a few packs of blank notecards from the local Dollar Tree. If you hear of someone’s success or recognition, drop them a note. If you saw someone opened a new location or got a promotion, drop them a note. If something made you think of them, drop them a note. If you just met someone and hope to continue the conversation, drop them a note. The handwritten message is powerful, and cuts through today’s overwhelming digital clutter while also making someone else feel good!”

What’s your P.O.W.E.R.ful Advice?

“Don’t underestimate the value and power of networking and growing your professional contacts. If you find people to compliment your abilities, you can help your customers by being a resource and refer them to other solutions for their problems. When you are able to help them outside your area of specialty, you have become a trusted resource for them which can help grow loyalty and long-term relationships.”

Jennifer Kelley of the Louisiana Hospitality FoundationJennifer Kelley has had a big, and very eventful year. As Executive Director of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, she’s had her hands full. When the pandemic brought Louisiana’s world class hospitality industry to a screeching halt in the spring of 2020, the demand for the LHF’s crisis grants skyrocketed. As the “one and only employee of the Foundation,” Jen found herself in a high-stakes situation that required her to leverage her previous work experience and problem-solving acumen to simultaneously fundraise to meet an exponentially growing need, while also reviewing an unprecedented number of applications and issuing a record number of financial assistance grants.

It was a physically and emotionally taxing time for Jen (and for much of the rest of the world), but luckily for the many people who received much-needed grants as a direct result of her passionate commitment, Jen faced the challenges— donor engagement, applicant outreach, logistics and process management— head-on. In collaboration with the LHF’s long term partner the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Jen oversaw the distribution of $2.4 million in crisis grants to hospitality workers in need throughout the New Orleans region.

Her herculean efforts have not gone unnoticed; since then, she has received recognition throughout the community and was recently awarded the Ella Brennan “Stand Up For Your Home Town” award from the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, an accomplishment Jen considers among the highlights of her career. While the work she’s done since the start of the pandemic deserves to be celebrated, Jen has been providing much-needed support to the hospitality community since the LHF board selected her as Executive Director in 2015.  “My resume was filled with different direct sales positions and marketing roles. I used to tell people that I’ve been on all sides of the table: I’ve been the customer, I’ve been the media representative, and I’ve also been the marketer, and that’s a unique pile of experience, which helped me get my job at the LHF; the board knew I could succeed as a one-woman show. They knew I’d be able to manage a lot.”

While sales and marketing are indeed an important part of her job, she has considerable operational responsibilities too. At her recommendation, the Foundation is updating both its donor management and grant application systems. Crisis grant applicants will have more transparency into their application status, reducing the applicant’s anxiety about the process, while also allowing Jen to reallocate the time spent responding to status update requests toward other mission-critical work. While Jen often claims to know “just enough to be dangerous” about the operational and technical aspects of her job, she owns her expertise in knowing when and who to ask for advice. “During 2020, there were a lot of organizations like ours that had an influx of requests for help on a scale they’d never seen before in the history of their organizations. I talked to different organizations at the state, regional, and national level and said ‘what did you do? How did you get there? What did you look at that you didn’t like?’” Jen’s knack for reaching out to the right people in her network to tap into subject matter expertise outside of her own core skill set has proven to be an invaluable asset to her— and the Foundation’s— successes.

Since stepping into the Executive Director role, Jen’s strategy for the Foundation’s growth has been focused on increasing the LHF footprint (both in terms of geographical reach and funds distributed) while keeping operating expenses as low as possible. Jen has successfully developed partnerships with a number of different institutions, all of which support the growth of the Foundation and its ability to provide aid to hospitality industry workers. Under her leadership, the partnership with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana has evolved, and the “Hospitality Cares” program has been re-developed to provide for needs that were exacerbated or uncovered during the height of the pandemic. (Hospitality Cares resources include “Know Your Rights” legal clinics as well as mental health services; more information on how to access these resources or donate to support them is available here).

While the partnership with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana has flourished under Jen’s leadership, it is only one of many she’s formed and cultivated during her tenure. Another example? The powerful partnership Jen established between the LHF and Fidelity Bank. Tapping into her talent for networking, Jen built the relationship off the shared connection the bank and the foundation have with the Zurich Classic golf tournament. One of the outcomes of this partnership is the P.O.W.E.R. Plates program, a unique initiative that combines the Fidelity Bank P.O.W.E.R. program’s focus on women in business with a marketing campaign that supports regional hospitality businesses and simultaneously raises money for the LHF’s crisis grant program.

P.O.W.E.R. Plates has only been around for three years, but in that short time it’s proven to be a very effective and important initiative for all parties concerned. Typically, July is a slow month for the hospitality industry. The program is timed to support these businesses during their seasonal lull. Participating hotels, bars and restaurants benefit from the combined promotional efforts of the LHF and Fidelity Bank, which includes social media, paid media promotion in print and radio, and TV coverage of the month-long promotion. This year for the first time, there will also be several in-person events which will serve to boost the campaign’s profile and increase awareness of its community impact.

In keeping with the mission of the Fidelity Bank P.O.W.E.R. program, these promotional efforts will highlight the women whose dedication, hard work, and vision keeps the P.O.W.E.R. Plates establishments running smoothly, while reminding locals to go out and support them during the slow season. “When you see the list of all of the featured women, you’ll see some are business owners, some are managers, some are training specialists, some are marketing specialists. There are a lot of possibilities for women within this industry, and we want to celebrate those who have put the time in and are excelling.” For Jen, the P.O.W.E.R. Plates program is a unique opportunity to showcase the accomplishments of women in the hospitality industry while also highlighting the fact that it is possible for women to be successful in an industry that is often viewed as being male-dominated.

The fundraising component of P.O.W.E.R. Plates comes from the featured menu items: participating bars and restaurants have the option to select a featured dish and/or drink. Each time the featured item is ordered during the month of July, $1 is donated to the LHF. At the end of the month, Fidelity Bank will match donations generated by the sale of the featured items up to $2,500. When we interviewed Jen for this blog post, we were still a few weeks away from the July 1st kickoff, but during that interview Jen noted “I feel very confident that we’re going to meet and exceed that match amount based on the high number of participants that we have, and the many lovely dishes and drinks that are going to be featured. I’m very excited.”

Jen is also excited at the program’s growth, noting, “this is the first time that we’ve gone outside New Orleans. Fidelity Bank has a footprint that goes beyond New Orleans, extending into the Baton Rouge area. And they’re embracing that this year.” The expansion of the P.O.W.E.R. Plates program beyond the New Orleans metro area is no accident; Jen has been working diligently to increase the LHF’s ability to support hospitality workers throughout Louisiana. She has successfully built a Baton Rouge committee of local industry leaders and community members who are passionate about the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation’s mission, and she hopes to replicate that success along the I-10 corridor. She’s identified Lake Charles as her next target, so definitely let her know if you know of anyone in that area who would be a great regional committee member!

Jennifer Kelley is a proud member of Fidelity Bank’s P.O.W.E.R. program for women in business. Learn more about Fidelity Bank and the P.O.W.E.R. program or email Director of P.O.W.E.R. Liz Broekman for more information.

Learn more about the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation:

Louisiana Hospitality Foundation
jen@louisianahospitality.org

504.913.5980

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