Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Michaelson Kelly.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and was that stereotypical high school valedictorian, soccer team captain, student body president type. My friends affectionately called me Tracy Flick, Reese Witherspoon’s character from the movie “Election.” I went to college and law school, where I continued with the same type of hyper-engagement. In college, I ran a large non-profit; in law school, I was the Managing Editor of the Law Review. Associated accolades followed, and I ended up practicing law in Atlanta with the bulk of my time at one of the largest law firms in the world. I led several organizations, campaigned for political candidates, and essentially continued on with “busyness.”
I enjoyed all of those experiences in all of those phases of life, and I have laugh lines to show for it. And I am eternally grateful for those experiences. But it was all pretty aimless. When people would ask, “What motivated you to do what you did?” To this day, I’m not sure how to answer that question.
Last year, I had the opportunity to become in-house counsel for one of my clients, a real estate developer comprised of very smart, fun, and kind people. I helped the company open its Atlanta office, assemble a team, launch a new product, and have now transitioned from a legal role to an operations role for the first time in my career. Along with an awesome team, I build buildings for a living. It’s an incredible, inspirational task to create places and communities where people will make lives and memories. And it’s such a rewarding challenge to find a way to accomplish that task while simultaneously focusing on how to deliver value. Building things and collaboration are much more consistent with my personality than fighting people in court.
Making this transition has allowed me to see value in the breadth of seemingly aimless experiences I’ve accumulated to date. In every legal hour I billed, I learned a concept that I use in our business. And every organization I led gave me management experience to help run our office. And every mentor I met gave me the wisdom I rely on to make decisions. And every friend I made along the way has given me the laugh lines that I’m so proud of in my mid-30s.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Knowing the struggles other women have faced in the workplace, I must say my road has been smooth by comparison. I have had the great fortune of working with very supportive men and women, who have given me opportunities, feedback, and confidence. My advice to all women and especially young women is to SPEAK. Women are taught from a very young age through media, relationships, and experience that their speech is not valued. They are not funny, entertaining, or worthy of attention; and of course, we all know people are very picky about women’s voices. But women should take the time they need to make their point, practice the art of speech and storytelling, and take opportunities to speak publicly, especially in professional settings. Women have very important contributions to make, and we should not let the noise trying to silence us drown out our voice. SPEAK.
Please tell us about Sixty West Funds.
My team and I develop real estate — multi-family, hospitality, and office — all over the country. What sets us apart from others is that the real estate investments we offer usually involve some tax structuring. The structuring is fairly complex and therefore carries with its compliance responsibilities. Our company is known for employing some of the best tax and legal professionals in the industry, who design and deliver superior and innovative products. As a company, we are all very proud of the products and services we deliver to our investors. But maybe what I’m most proud of is that we have assembled a group of good, fun people who care about what they do, but have a great time and respect one another while doing it.
Who have you been inspired by?
My grandmother, Janet, who loves her family with the fire of 1,000 suns. She worked into her 80s and would continue working if my grandfather would let her. She’s funny and generous and drops an entertaining “F-bomb” from time to time.
My step-mom, Debbie, who effortlessly and without any judgment of others lives a Christian example. Debbie loved me like her own child, even though she didn’t have to. I’m forever grateful to her for that.
- Instagram: @amymikekelly
- Twitter: @amymikekelly
Harmony Blackwell Photography