Recently our CEO Shelly Kirkland, sat down with Voyage Dallas to answer a few questions about her passion for veterans and how she became involved with Boot Campaign. The publications mission is to build a platform that fosters collaboration and support for small businesses, independent artists and entrepreneurs, local institutions and those that make the city interesting. They want to change the way people spend their money – rather than spending it with the big, cookie-cutter corporations they want them to spend their money with the independent, creative, local entrepreneurs, small businesses and artists.
We shared a few question and answers below, but read the full article here.
Shelly, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller; even at a young age, I was writing short stories, authoring poetry and taking pictures to capture beauty in the world around me. After working for Fox’s America’s Most Wanted producing crime stories in Washington, D.C., I moved to Dallas in 2007 and joined The Richards Group. For three years, I honed my skills amongst 700 of the “brightest and most focused people in the world of advertising,” as Stan Richards likes to say, telling stories of brands to influence consumers. One of my clients while there was UT Dallas’ Center for BrainHealth. I quickly became captivated by the brain and how scientists were working to unravel the mysteries of the mind for school children, aging adults, those with autism, elderly individuals with Alzheimer’s and healthy folks looking to get an edge. In 2010, I left the agency world to pursue non-profit storytelling full-time at the Center for BrainHealth.
During my nearly eight years there, several scientists were awarded funding from the Department of Defense to study traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder in post 9/11 veterans. As part of recruiting for those studies, I met several veterans who changed the course of my career. These were folks who were my age who were quite literally putting their life on the line for me. And doing it selflessly. Courageously. Without question.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One of my favorite quotes is, “Every time I witness a strong person, I want to know: ‘What dark did you conquer in your story?’ Mountains do not rise without earthquakes.”
Powerful, right? We all have winding roads in life that lead us to present day. Our roads are rarely smooth or straight. But oftentimes it’s in the process of traveling a route full of potholes, steep hills and rough terrain that we develop a passion to help and serve others. And, that has been my experience. My path certainly hasn’t been easy, but it helped shape me into who I am today and has fueled my professional mission to help others overcome stigma associated with brain and mental health issues.