Changing the World One College Student at a Time
Former Chick-fil-A Leader Academy Student, Kelsey Davis, was among the first group of students to pilot the program in 2013. She recalls attending the live Kickoff event at Georgia Tech as the newly elected president of her sophomore class and how that experience began to build the foundation for her to see her own leadership capabilities in a whole new way.“I grew up always knowing I wanted to make a real impact and positive change in the world around me but I didn’t have a way to channel that energy and passion. Chick-fil-A Leader Academy opened up those possibilities for me. To collaborate with and lead fellow students who were like-minded but different from me was eye-opening and empowering.”Following her Chick-fil-A Leader Academy experience, Davis says many of the leadership principles she learned and skills she gained through the program carried over into other areas of involvement including sports. She was a Division I recruit for her basketball team and while she had a clear path to collegiate sports, Kelsey knew her true passion was to use film and business to pursue alternative routes towards leadership.
“When it came down to it, I had to make the decision to give up basketball because I knew it wasn’t my passion. As an entrepreneurial creative, I knew my impact on the world would be through film and starting my own business. Thankfully, I had good advisors in my life who encouraged and supported me in this decision.”
Davis was awarded the Posse Scholarship in her senior year of high school and went on to study television, radio, and film at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, ultimately earning her masters in entrepreneurship earlier this year. But it was in her senior year of high school that Kelsey says she was already beginning to exercise her leadership skills that lead to work with brands like Coca-Cola, Land Rover, Puma, and Conde Nast. The demand for Kelsey’s work led her to collaborate with other creatives on SU’s campus and to start her own company.
“I thought I’d have to drop out of school because of the demand for work. But I knew I had to find a way to complete my studies and still do what I love. Hiring fellow creatives on campus turned out to be the catalyst to creating a successful business model for my company, CLLCTVE. I witnessed the power of servant leadership through Chick-fil-A Leader Academy and am passionate about leveling the playing field for college students whose work needs to be seen and whose voices need to be heard. You don’t have to wait until you graduate to get your work out and make a difference in the world.”
Kelsey and her business partner, Brendan O’Keeffe, now have a team of seven and have raised over $200,000 of pre-seed funding to help create the tech platform they need to scale CLLCTVE beyond the 2,000 creatives they currently support. This summer they expect to support over 5,000 college students and hope to scale nationwide by 2021. While it’s been almost 8 years since Kelsey graduated Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, she says the lessons she learned have been lasting and have influenced her to reach higher and become the best version of herself through serving others.
“Born and raised in Atlanta, Chick-fil-A was essential growing up. Not just the food, but the way they care about communities. I’m the perfect example of what can happen when you take the time to invest in young people and empower them to lead change and serve others around them.”