In this interview, our Manager of Engagement & Talent, Christian Moore & Kai Koehler discuss her new business Cultivate with Kai, LLC and reflect on her Public Allies journey. Enjoy!
Kai is a recent graduate of Public Allies Pittsburgh, a 10-month Americorps program designed to equip emerging leaders with the skills, experience, and connections they need to transform our communities and world.
As a Public Ally, Kai served with the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. Through her role, Kai developed interactive resource guides for advocates and clients. She also facilitated the creation of internal mission statements to clarify existing roles of teams in a larger agency.
Christian: Congratulations on your new business, Cultivate with Kai! How does it feel to officially be a founder and business owner?
Kai: Woah. just woah. This is not something I ever expected to do, but here I am. I feel grateful, empowered, in awe. The work I have been doing is extremely fulfilling and I am so excited that I get to continue to do impactful work.
Christian: I’m curious, why did you make the leap into entrepreneurship?
Kai: Honestly, I felt called to it, invited if you would. I loved the work I was doing through Public Allies and after some conversations with a few of my mentors, I realized that I didn’t need to stop. Not only could I help strengthen nonprofit organizations, I could make this a career. The thought was simultaneously daunting and thrilling. My research reiterated that this was a right move for me, so I did it, and here we are.
Christian: I love it! How did you get the idea or concept for your business?
Kai: I have to thank my father for this. He was my first (nonofficial, then official) client. He has had his own business for two years now, I have been working with nonprofits for three. He was grappling with how to create a nonprofit; not the logistics, but the “I want to do so many things and help so many people, where do I even start.” We were on the phone and I started giving him advice and resources. He said “well, let’s meet up to discuss this further; what are your consulting rates?” I laughed at this; my father, paying me for my services! He was serious. After our first call, he said “I think you could do this professionally. So does my mentor.” I haven’t looked back since.
Christian: Such an incredible story! What services does Cultivate with Kai, LLC offer?
Kai: Every organization has different needs, wants, goals, and more. Recognizing that, I like to get to know the client before planning a project. I have many conversations throughout our time working together in order for us to capitalize on what I have to offer. However, the main buckets of services I provide: discover, clarify, and produce.
- Together, we investigate the environment and inner workings of the organization to discover opportunities for improvement.
- Whether program guidelines, the mission statement, or company policies are unclear, I guide and implement the clarification process.
- I facilitate conversations in order to produce necessary materials such as curriculums, evaluations, handbooks, guides, and more.
Christian: Discover, clarify, produce. What is the long-term impact you are hoping to make?
Kai: I want to foster quality nonprofit leadership and really strengthen the good work that these organizations are already doing. After I learned about the nonprofit industrial complex, I made it a goal of mine to mitigate it whenever I could. I believe that working to reduce burnout, increase capacity, and increase quality of services, individual people (from nonprofit professionals to underrepresented clients) will benefit from the work I’m doing.
Christian: How did your time in Coro Pittsbugh’s Public Allies program prepare you for this journey?
Kai: The leadership training mixed with hands-on experience. Plus the ample autonomy. I was able to guide my own learning for what truly felt like the first time and that is a priceless experience .
Christian: Building upon that, where do you see your business in 5 years?
Kai: I hope to have worked with many different clients by then, expanding my reach both in the types of nonprofits I serve, but also the size and location.
Christian: I can’t wait to see it come to fruition! What advice would you give to other Coro alumni that are interested in starting a business?
Kai: There will be times you are overwhelmed, times imposter syndrome sets in, times you feel in over your head. This is natural, and it is okay; you are human. Take a step back and consult a mentor, friend, or your inner self. Listen to the advice of others, but know that this is your thing, and what feels good will be good.
Also — there are a ton of free resources out there! Connect with me and I can share the plethora that I used.
Christian: Excellent advice! Where can people go to learn more or book your services?
Kai: The best place to learn more about cultivate with kai, LLC is my website cultivatewithkai.com
If you are interested in working with me, please call me at 814-528-3564 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; we can get a connection call scheduled whenever best fits your schedule
Christian: As we close out, is there anything else you would like to share?
Kai: I want to thank Public Allies, CORO, and you, Christian for all the support I have received, in and outside of this endeavor. Moving to a new city is not always easy, but the transition went better than imagined due to the connection and resources I was able to receive.
I am always looking to have fruitful conversations regarding the topics below. If we share interests, please connect with me! I love getting to know different perspectives, cultures, and individuals.
- criminal justice system
- human rights
- racial equity
- diversity & inclusion
- wellness spaces
- cultural appreciation
- interdisciplinary approaches
- nonprofit sector
Christian: Kai, thank you for your time and the passion you bring to the nonprofit sector. You are such a bright light. All of us Coro & Public Allies are incredibly proud of you. We can’t wait to watch Cultivate with Kai, LLC grow. Continue being great!
Public Allies Pittsburgh is now accepting applications for our 2021-22 cohort, which begins on September 20th. Click here to learn more.