VCET Welcomes New Manager of Operations and Culture, Kelly Keen

Hi there, my name is Kelly Keen and I am thrilled to begin as VCET’s new Manager of Operations and Culture!

I am a Vermont native and went to Colorado State University where I graduated in nutrition and biomedical sciences. To find some inspiration for what was next, I lived in Seattle for a bit. But I couldn’t stay away from Vermont long! While interests and plans have shifted along the way, my passion for food has remained constant. My belief that, when it comes to food, simple is better, less is more, and quality is paramount has kept me rooted in Vermont among the hardworking producers and restauranteurs who believe the same.

This ideology led me to create a startup of my own! I came back from Seattle and started Mina’s Ginger Beer. I wanted a strong and spicy ginger beer that wasn’t too sweet, so I made a fresh juice soda and sold it at The Burlington, Winooski, and Middlebury Farmers’ markets. I felt completely invigorated by the whole process and loved wearing so many different hats.

I was also working part-time at ArtsRiot in Burlington and was offered the position of General Manager, so I had a tough choice to make! With Mina’s I was definitely affected by burnout and couldn’t pass up the ArtsRiot opportunity, so at a bittersweet crossroads, I accepted the position and stopped making ginger beer. I absolutely loved working at ArtsRiot. Since I always love a good questioning of the status quo, I felt naturally at home at an organization that repeatedly pushed the envelope of what was possible in Burlington, Vermont. I quickly gravitated towards the performing arts side of the business, and while I knew I would never be the one on stage, I felt completely invigorated by helping to make that sort of magic happen.

Because of VCET, I am so lucky to be able to continue my work helping to make magic happen, this time supporting Vermont’s own entrepreneurs and startups! I’d like to think if I knew what kind of support to look for, maybe Mina’s would have made it to the next level. I already feel so welcomed into the community and can tell that Sam and Dave have worked tirelessly to create a culture of inclusivity, support, and importantly, fun. I can’t wait to meet you all.

I live in the South End with my husband Tim and 9-month-old daughter, Orly.