Fox Advancement Fundraising Five with Allie Kelly
Executive Director at The Ray
Interviewed by Meredith Stinson
Describe your role with The Ray. Why are you passionate about The Ray’s mission and work?
When I started with The Ray as executive director on Day 1, it was all about helping Harriet Langford make the Ray C. Anderson highway representative of her father’s legacy and the values he dedicated most of his life to fulfilling. My priority was supporting the family and their goals to make this stretch of interstate safer, cleaner and more restorative for the community - defining the concept of a “green” highway.
As The Ray grew, so did our vision. We began to realize, much like Ray did, that what we were doing applied far beyond our 18 miles in southwest Georgia. Just like Ray began sharing his plans for corporate sustainability and building a circular economy, The Ray’s work could also be applied everywhere and could be scaled on highways across the state, nation, and even the world. With transportation now producing more carbon emissions than any other sector, I knew we had to address our calling and transform the way others looked at the industry.
Now with partnerships in 14 states with over 20 agencies, The Ray is leading the way for transportation innovation. Just as Ray revolutionized the life of carpet tiles by fully recycling the old to make new materials, we are using that same blueprint in one of our projects to up-cycle scrap tires from landfills into new resilient rubberized asphalt for our roads. As we grow and innovate, our work continually leads us back to the breadcrumbs our namesake left as a guide. The parallels between our work are just further manifestations of the living legacy Ray began for us.
How long have you worked with Fox Advancement, and in what capacity? What do you appreciate about your partnership with Fox Advancement?
Though we have worked with the Fox Advancement team for less than a year, they integrated themselves as a part of The Ray team. At The Ray, we push the boundaries on what “could be” and disrupt the status quo. Fox Advancement has empowered that mindset.
From the beginning of our relationship, they have been dedicated to the mission and our core values. They go the extra mile to bring our vision of scaling The Ray’s work to life. We are grateful to have their team of “believers” as an extension of ours.
What do you enjoy most about fundraising? What is an example of a fundraising challenge you have faced, and how did you overcome it?
Fundraising gives me the opportunity to share the amazing work we are doing at The Ray and help others see how they can be a part of our movement. It was one of the first projects with Fox Advancement that sticks out to me most. In partnership with the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) and WTS International, we had a program in response to Melinda Gates’s Equality Can’t Wait challenge called MobilityXX. MobilityXX is a program dedicated to empowering and uplifting women in transportation, an industry with less than 20% female representation. We had only weeks to submit our proposal, and we turned to Fox Advancement for their expertise.
They didn’t miss a beat. Their team worked with us side-by-side to help us craft a (not to toot our own horn) phenomenal proposal. Because of our joint efforts and shared mission, MobilityXX made it right up to the top 10 cutoffs for the challenge. We are not treating the proposal as a stand-alone program and have the foundation to use our proposal for other grant and building opportunities.
What is a particularly memorable interaction you have had with a donor, board member, project partner, or volunteer?
At The Ray, we believe no matter who you are and what your background is, everyone brings something unique to the table. Because of that, each person has their own way they can contribute to our mission and help build on the success of The Ray. A person that immediately comes to mind when I think of someone dedicated to our work is our community ambassador Stewart Massey.
Stewart is a college student from Valley, AL - a town on the Alabama side of The Ray Highway. He has been working with our team for over three years and is our go-to guy for events, outreach, and sharing his enthusiasm for our work around The Ray Highway community. From checking on technologies at the Visitor Information Center to creating incredible up-cycled holiday floats to represent The Ray, Stewart does it all. He has a passion for technology and bringing people together. We invite everyone to bring what they have because making The Ray better can be done in an endless number of ways.
On a personal note: Describe your perfect day!
I love having the opportunity to share with others the work we’re doing on The Ray and how it can impact them. One of the things I miss most from the “before times” pre-COVID is having groups down on The Ray and giving them a tour of the technologies we’ve built being utilized on a public highway. It’s truly fulfilling to see how we can help other communities and our partners accomplish their goals through innovations we’re implementing RIGHT NOW.