Kelly Brooks and Amy Jacobs met through the Women’s Impact Fund, a group of high-profile women who each year work together to donate thousands of dollars to Charlotte area nonprofits. That meeting literally changed the course of Charlotte as the two came together to build SHARE Charlotte into a powerful force for good in the community. Kelly, 49, created SHARE, a nonprofit that brings together more than 400 Charlotte nonprofits to help them get things done in the community, and Amy, 40, left her corporate finance job to help run the organization. Now, Kelly is working to bring something similar to cities across the country. We are thrilled to introduce you to this amazing duo as today’s FACES of Charlotte.
What were you doing before SHARE Charlotte?
Following a career in marketing and publishing, I was a stay-at-home mom for nine years. I have two beautiful and crazy teenagers now!
Where did the idea for SHARE Charlotte come from?
When we moved to Charlotte in 2007 for my husband’s job in NASCAR, we decided that we would stay and raise our family here. So that also meant we needed to figure out how and where we would plug in to support our new community. I found it very difficult to navigate through all of the nonprofits, community groups and programs. And if you Googled “nonprofits in Charlotte” only the larger, more established groups would show up. You know, the ones you hear about all the time — never the smaller, grassroots organizations.
So I figured if I was having these problems, then other people probably were, too. That’s when I got to work developing my idea for SHARE Charlotte.
What is SHARE Charlotte?
On the surface, it is a one-stop-shop to getting involved in Charlotte. The website is a simple search engine for local nonprofits (serving Mecklenburg County) that offers up multiple ways for people to take action — through volunteering, donating money or buying the specific goods that nonprofits need. At its core, SHARE inspires the community to care about the city around them and then do something good for it.
How did that lead to what you’re doing now?
When I built SHARE Charlotte, I was hoping to create a model that could be taken to other communities. Well, this year we figured out a way to do that. My company, Share Good, will launch our first expansion city in January 2019!
What was it like starting a totally new career path “mid-life”?
Honestly, it was fun and re-energizing — and crazy SCARY! I love building things, and I am pretty good at seeing and understanding the “big picture,” so it was really up my alley. I have to say that it was likely less hard because I had the personal resources to create what I wanted to. I didn’t have to spend valuable time and energy raising money. I had the pleasure of spending most of my time building relationships, sharing the idea, getting advice and feedback, learning from the nonprofits what support they truly need, etc.
The biggest challenge for me was me. I’ve been dealing with anxiety (from peri-menopause) for the last eight years, so I’ve really had to push through some trying times. I truly believe that it was all meant to happen at the same time. If I hadn’t had SHARE Charlotte to focus on and challenge me, I probably would’ve hibernated and never come out of my house!
My marketing work at NASCAR was the catalyst for believing I could pull this idea off. I used to lead industry-wide, integrated marketing campaigns, so I used that experience to identify the parts of the community that needed to be involved and tried to figure out how to make it work for all of them.
What’s the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?
“Don’t worry until you have something to worry about.” Although I am typically a very positive person, I can spend (re: waste) so much time thinking way down the road and worrying about what may or may not happen. I make up stories in my mind and worry about things that likely may never come to pass. It’s lost time and energy that could be used on so many other good things!
Best piece of advice you’ve given your daughter?
See previous answer! Be as present as possible. Try to not constantly be thinking ahead, planning, wishing and worrying. Be here, right now, in this moment. And be grateful for it.
Aside from faith, family, and friends, what three things can you not live without?
The NC mountains, music (Justin Timberlake if we’re getting specific!), and a big, bold Napa Cab
What made you get involved, and then ultimately leave your paying job to work for free?
I was at a point in my 15-year financial services career where I just wasn’t enjoying the work as much anymore, and I was struggling to find my purpose in it. I began to consider taking some time off to re-evaluate what I wanted to be when I grew up, which lead to my adult version of a “gap year” in 2015. After I left the bank, I got my yoga teacher training certification and began to volunteer, hoping that I would discover what I was meant to do next. Through my very intentional networking, I met Kelly Brooks, the founder of SHARE Charlotte, who happened to need a volunteer project manager to lead that year’s #GivingTuesdayCLT campaign. I absolutely loved what SHARE Charlotte was, did and wanted to become, so I said yes, and thus began my year volunteering with SHARE Charlotte!
How were you able to make that leap of faith?
God — and an incredible and supportive husband! I had been praying for years about what direction my career should go in, and I began to know in my heart that I should put my experience and passion to work in Charlotte’s social sector. However, it’s very hard to leave what you know and are comfortable with — especially when it comes with a nice paycheck. But at the end of the day, I knew I wanted to spend my time doing something in the service of others even if it meant less disposable income. Dave and I had to revisit our budget and adjust some things to make it work, but it was worth it! I didn’t need to be shopping that much on Amazon anyways … :)
What is it like leading an organization that is having such a big impact on an entire community?
It’s SO MUCH FUN! At SHARE Charlotte, we get front row seats to all the incredible good that is being done by Charlotte non-profits. Our team works hard every day to inspire our community to give back and to help our non-profit partners succeed. Being in the business of doing good is just that — good!
What characteristics do you look for in friends?
I love to surround myself with strong, smart women who challenge me and inspire me to grow. I also love friends who share my roots — I still have many close girlfriends with whom I grew up.
How do you relax?
Go somewhere tropical! Nothing is more calming to me than the sound of the ocean and the rustle of palm trees. If travel is not available, a hot yoga class usually does the trick.
Aside from faith, family and friends, what three things can you not live without?
Yoga, wine, the beach
Thank you so much, Kelly and Amy, for your dedication to Charlotte and its nonprofits. We are so grateful! And thank you to Piper Warlick for these beautiful photos. To learn more about SHARE Charlotte, click here!
For more inspiring FACES of Charlotte, click HERE!