Next Up Columbus 2021: Kelly Renner

Kelly Renner
Kelly Renner

Photo by Matt Reese / CityPulse Columbus

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Dr. Kelly Renner
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Age: 38
Profession: Assistant Dean, Curriculum at Franklin University
Neighborhood: Westerville
• B.A. in Psychology from Miami University
• M.A. in Counseling from West Virginia University
• Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Florida State University
• Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Ohio
Community Involvement: Columbus Leadership Council, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Franklin County (Board of Directors), Sinclair Community College (Psychology Program Advisory Board), Youth Advocate Services (Board of Trustees).

Words to live by: “I am just a committed and even stubborn person who wants to see every child get a quality education, who wants to see women have equal rights, and who wants peace in every corner of the world.” – Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Lecture on 12.10.2014
Connect: LinkedIn

During her tenure at Franklin University, Dr. Kelly Renner has held a variety of positions including the Assistant Director and then the Director of the Student Learning Center, as well as Lead Faculty. She has taught at Franklin University since 2012, receiving the 2014 Teaching Excellence Award, as well as the 2019 Inaugural Faculty Fellow. Currently, she is on the Fulbright Specialist Roster.

Prior to working full-time at Franklin University, Kelly spent four years working in community mental health as a clinician at Mid-Ohio Psychological Services where her caseload included clients at various stages of the life span battling addictions, depression, anxiety, and personality disorders, as well as coping with all forms of abuse. Her research interests, speaking engagements, professional presentations, and publications span the topics of burnout, motivation, and team building.

What gets you up each morning?
Literally, my dog gets me up in the morning, however in a more motivational context, I wake up excited that I have the opportunity to make a difference in students’ lives through their educational experiences.

And what gets you through the workweek?
What gets me through the work week is the time I get to spend playing with my 5 year-old, Declan. His creativity, energy, kindness, and solution-focused perspective are inspiring.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
I have been fortunate to have many mentors throughout my academic journey including my 3rd grade teacher at St. Paul School, Mrs. Marcine Power, Dr. Amanda Diekman in the Psychology Department at Miami University, Dr. Ed Jacobs in the Counseling Program at West Virginia University, and my dissertation chair, Dr. Robert Eklund, at Florida State University. Professionally, Dr. Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President & Provost at Franklin University, has served as an insightful guide to navigating higher education. All of these mentors have motivated me to think critically and globally without limitations.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I enjoy running at Alum Creek, visiting the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and spending time at the beautiful parks in Westerville and Olentangy with my family.

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus/central Ohio?
• Gogi Korean BBQ
• Mitchell’s Ocean Club
• Hunan J Restaurant
• Asterisk Supper Club
• Sticky Fingers Ice Cream Parlor
• I am looking forward to the new Carfagna’s at Polaris

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
Marine Biologist

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind by Judson Brewer, M.D., Ph.D. and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
It is truly an honor to be in the company of these successful and inspiring Next Up Columbus award recipients. I strive to give back to the City of Columbus through my leadership in higher education, mental health advocacy, mentoring, and community service, but I am only one person. Part of what makes Columbus great is that so many residents give back to the city, or make it even better, with their own unique talents. I am proud to be a part of this effort.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
Thriving! I was born and raised in Columbus (St. Francis DeSales High School class of 2001), so I have seen firsthand how this great city has grown and evolved over the past three decades. It is exciting to live in a city that provides so many professional opportunities, events that enrich the community, and ways to give back while being inclusive of all people.

The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2021 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Future Possibilities and Zipline Logistics for their support of this awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2021” »


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