Klein College of Media and Communication -Kelly Offner ’12 is the executive director of Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB), an affiliate of the national Keep America Beautiful initiative. The organization encourages Philadelphians to take a mindful approach to living in the city by keeping it clean and environmentally healthy. Offner is especially interested in having Temple University students join in on the organization’s efforts through internship positions.
Environmental stewardship became a focus in Offner’s life after watching former vice president Al Gore’s documentary film An Inconvenient Truth in high school. She realized that although she was not as interested in the direct arithmetic and science involved in environmental studies, she enjoyed reading about environmental changes and initiatives that helped minimize the harm that those changes can cause.
Offner, a native of the Philadelphia area, started attending Temple after transferring from the Pennsylvania State University and decided that she wanted to pursue broadcast journalism. She found it was the best way she could combine her loves of writing and of informing the public of pressing societal issues. If not in front of the camera, she wanted to have a hand in seeking out and producing stories that have the potential to make a change and was drawn to alternative news outlets such as Vice News.
Offner’s studies in communication and engagement at Klein College of Media and Communication gave her a solid foundation after graduation, when she worked for the apparel and fashion company United By Blue and eventually became the head of the company’s cleanup department. While the position fulfilled her desire to work closely with the environment and the community for clean-ups, she found that her role was missing some essential components to her philosophy of change: education and outreach that encouraged community members to become preventative forces against the environmental degradation of the city.
KPB is a partner organization of United By Blue, so when Offner found out about the opening for KPB’s executive director position, she decided to apply. Her selection by the organization’s board of directors gave her the freedom to focus on “community-convening, troubleshooting [and] creating a lasting change.”
“It seemed just like the right time to kind of make that move and kind of focus a little bit on the city that I had pretty much grown up in,” she says.