Gini Dietrich

#FollowFriday: Alina Kelly

By: Gini Dietrich | October 4, 2013 | 

#FollowFriday- Alina KellyBy Gini Dietrich

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Alina Kelly earlier this week. She was in Chicago for a conference (and shopping) and took time out of her networking and sessions to meet me for dinner.

Alina, for those of you who don’t know, is a former Rogers (the AT&T equivalent in Canada) employee where she launched several national products, including one that had her in the air for two weeks beginning on September 14, 2001.

For those of you who flew around that time, you know how significant that is. I remember flying to LAX the second flights resumed and how scary it was that the airport was so empty. I thought, “Huh. You’ll never again see LAX without people in it.”

Though she hasn’t worked for Rogers for more than 10 years, the experience she gained there helped her launch her own business, AKelly Consulting, where she focuses on public transit and government.

On the personal side of things, she has two teenaged daughters (16 and 13) and a “wonderfully supportive” husband (quotes because that’s what she said; not because I know him).

But what I find most charming about her is the conversation we had about broken bones. She went her whole life, until two years ago, without breaking anything and then had four bad spills, including two torn rotator cuffs, a broken ankle, and broken ribs.

When she told me about the third accident, I said, “Oh good. That’s three. You’re done for good.” And then she said she broke her ankle. Oops. I just jinxed her. She has two more to go.

She’s a lover of food, wine, and all things about urban design, including art installed in public places. In fact, she gets very passionate when talking about the types of things the big cities are doing with transit and art.

You can find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest (!!!!), and Google+.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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101 responses to “#FollowFriday: Alina Kelly”

  1. biggreenpen says:

    Congrats on your FF feature, Alina! Look forward to interacting with you here on SS!

  2. belllindsay says:

    Hi Alina!! Are you Toronto based? Welcome to the world of the Spin Sucks crazies. Congrats on your #FollowFriday! 😀

    • AlinaKelly says:

      belllindsay Hello Lindsay! Yes I am Toronto based – Beaches based to be specific. I was delighted when Gini went “international” and hired you. Even though I don’t comment much (my bad), I do read (almost) everything on SpinSucks and have really enjoyed your contributions!

      • belllindsay says:

        AlinaKelly Heck, we’re practically neighbours! I live a block north of the Go line, south of Danforth between Main and Woodbine (affectionately known as “the ghetto!”) – as I say “I’m always on the wrong side of the tracks!” – LOL And thanks for the kind words! 🙂

        • AlinaKelly says:

          belllindsay Are you kidding me? I can walk to your house. I’m just southwest of Kingston and Main (which intersection is being close again soon). Now I want to know what your “local” is. For some reason I was under the impression you were in the west end. And that’s no ghetto!!

        • belllindsay says:

          AlinaKelly HA! It is such a small world these days, isn’t it? I haven’t lived in the west end since I was in my early 20’s. Love the mix of the east side, the working class feel, the “it takes all kinds” population. Reminds me a bit of growing up in the Maritimes.

        • AlinaKelly says:

          belllindsay Totally agree. It’s very relaxed and very much a small community in a big city. Now fess up: what’s your local? There may be a beer in it for you.

  3. Finally! Finally! It has been so long since a Canadian was highlighted here. She must be a good friends since you had her over for Manwich’s. And did she also make you her famous black eyed pea, kale and butternut squash soup topped with crushed butterfingers? I can dream! I will be happy just to be invited for corn dogs at the food court at her mall when I visit.
    So are you Pro or Against Street Art? My street art friends view it as a reaction to public art decided on by committee who feel they represent the tastes of a city. Part of me agrees and part me of me thinks of the property owners. ginidietrich needs a Banksy on her block for sure.

    • ginidietrich says:

      Howie Goldfarb We don’t have malls in the city. As if.

    • AlinaKelly says:

      Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich Hello Howie (eh)! I am very pro art. Full stop. I have a very dear friend who is a public art consultant who has managed the Toronto Sculpture Garden ( for 30 years. The committee issue you describe is definitely a challenge. But it can be overcome.
      Rina’s job is to ensure the integrity of the art/artist is maintained by managing the process. She works with both private and public sector clients, including managing the installation of a fantastic mosaic at the newly built Toronto Trump Tower, and the station/street art on two streetcar lines (Spadina and St. Clair) and a subway line (Sheppard Subway) in Toronto. 
      There is always some level of controversy around art – I think that’s part of the role art plays – it stretches the mind. But love or hate an individual piece or installation, it definitely enhances our urban environments, IMHO. And don’t we all want to live, work and play in great/interesting places?

      • AlinaKelly I love that link thank you. I will visit the gardens if I get to Toronto. I agree with your view on public art. NYC has some really cool sculpture/community gardens in the lower east side and Venice Beach in LA has their Graffiti Walls which are constantly changing with new art.

        I think controversy also has to do with culture. In Los Angeles it is the freeway murals that are the biggest public art displays. But many are boring. So a lot of street art is aimed/placed along freeways.

        • AlinaKelly says:

          Howie Goldfarb It’s tiny but well worth visiting. It’s featured some pretty amazing work. My husband proposed to me there 🙂

        • AlinaKelly says:

          Howie Goldfarb Freeway murals can be cool (shame if they’re boring). I love the art that is part of the urban fabric of a street – incorporated into sidewalks, on blank walls of buildings etc. The things that make walking a neighbourhood enjoyable/delightful.

  4. emzki says:

    Lisa_Catto am back in London and I have your watermelon gum in my bag! Call me…

  5. Alina.  Nice to meet you…  thanks for giving new meaning to the term “Breaking Bad” (I hope your series is over, too)

  6. aimeelwest says:

    Good Morning! Being part of the #ff crazy is a wonderful way to start the weekend 🙂 Enjoy every moment.

    • AlinaKelly says:

      aimeelwest Hello Aimee!! I am beyond blown away…and loving it. To say I didn’t see it coming is an understatement. Thank you!

  7. EricPudalov says:

    Congrats on your #FollowFriday, Alina!  You have quite an amazing story.  And as Howie said below, I’m also curious on your stance about street art; that’s one of the things I love about Atlanta.

    • AlinaKelly says:

      EricPudalov I appear to be reading backwards – will get to Howie in a minute. 
      Doesn’t art make an immense difference in a community? The simplest things can be absolutely transformative. They’re the things we remember about places when we visit and that make our local communities so much more livable.

      • EricPudalov says:

        AlinaKelly EricPudalov Yes, it absolutely does!!  Atlanta has this former rail line called the BeltLine that we’ve slowly been refurbishing and turning into green space.  Many artists have contributed to that, and I love how much it adds to the neighborhood.

  8. EdenSpodek says:

    Nice meeting you AlinaKelly and welcome to the @spinsucks #FF crowd. Perhaps one day soon our paths will meet in Toronto.

  9. Very nice to meet you, Alina! I’d love to hear more about your work with public transit. Seems like quite the shift from the world of telecom!

    • AlinaKelly says:

      jasonkonopinski Hello Jason! It does seem like a shift, but I started as an urban planner. When I did my MBA, I discovered that business/marketing strategy is just planning on steroids in a bigger sandbox. I LOVED IT! I loved working in telecom – got a great grounding in technology. I now apply private sector marketing principles to non-traditional markets – like public transit. 
      Once upon a time, if you built it, they would come. Not so any more. I work to make public transit an appealing option. Many people simply don’t know it can work for them and have negative perceptions. Transit has come a long way in the last couple decades. Would love to chat more about it any time. Please drop me a line!

      • AlinaKelly That’s awesome. My office (cowork155) is in the post-industrial town of York, PA — and there has been a real effort to reclaim abandoned and blighted properties and turn them into something useful. Urban planning fascinates me.

        • AlinaKelly says:

          jasonkonopinski cowork155 I find it so exciting when places that seem hopeless are transformed. Sometimes, buildings have to be razed to allow new things to happen, but when the “bones” are good and old places are renewed, they can become really interesting and vibrant communities.
          I once again had the good fortune to hear Gil Penalosa (@G_Penalosa) speak at the conference I attended this week. He’s the Executive Director of 8-80 Cities (, “…a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to transforming cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks, streets and other public places.”
          The 8-80 concept (paraphrased): if a place is safe, comfortable and happy for the young (8) and the elderly (80), it will also be a safe, comfortable and happy place for everyone else. 

          You determine if a place works by asking some simple questions, like: Would I let my 8-year old hang out here? Would Grandma be able to cross this street comfortably? The answer becomes pretty obvious, pretty quickly [steps off soapbox].
          I hope the reclamation efforts in York succeed!

  10. Congrats Alina!! And nice to meet you – I should show you some of the art that’s being done in my neighborhood – they turned some really drabby, scary looking viaducts into beautiful art. 
    Look forward to getting to know you more!

  11. debdobson62 says:

    Hi Alina.  Nice to meet you.  I saw you had a tennis photo on your twitter of Rogers Cup.  I’m a huge tennis fan as Gini can attest to.  Sorry to hear you’ve had some broken bones.  Congrats on Gini’s #FollowFriday.  I’m going to follow you on your platforms and if you ever make it to Atlanta, let me know.  I love food and good wine.

    • AlinaKelly says:

      debdobson62 Hello Deb! A dear friend and I make an annual pilgrimage to the Rogers Cup almost every year. It’s a highlight of the summer. We both LOVE tennis and are so grateful to have access to high quality action in person! It’s always a great day! 
      Looking forward to following you too and the next time I’m heading Atlanta-way, you can bet I’ll take you up on an offer to share a bite and a glass of wine! I’m easy that way 😉

      • debdobson62 says:

        AlinaKelly debdobson62 I so love meeting another person who LOVES tennis.  How very cool you get to see high quality action in person and with a dear friend!

  12. Eric Pudalov says:

    I did! Thanks for introducing her to everyone!!

  13. susancellura says:

    HI Alina! It’s a pleasure to meet you! I have a dream to throw a Wimbledon party, but think I will have to DVR it so people can go to church or sleep in.  🙂    I do hope you have a wonderful and fun Follow Friday!

    • AlinaKelly says:

      susancellura Thank you Susan! I am totally honoured/honored to be here.
      My view on your Wimbledon party idea: go for it!

  14. Ooohhhh I love urban art! So amazing how it can transform neighborhoods (both physically and sociologically). Some of the studies about how this type of transformation of the physical aspects (both art and urban gardens) can improve overall quality of life, decrease crime, etc. are really inspiring. I really wish more cities would invest in this type of urban renewal. 
    Anyway, so great to meet you, looking forward to learning more about you and congrats, congrats, congrats!!!

    • AlinaKelly says:

      LauraPetrolino Thank you so much. So glad to hear we share a love of great neighbourhoods. It’s wonderful to live in a place that you love. Investments in public spaces definitely deliver exponential returns to the community in all the ways you cite.
      In our community, the Beach Garden & Horticultural Society (, a community organization, plants many of the public gardens in the neighbourhood. What a difference it makes to so many of our public spaces. So some of the improvements can actually happen from the grassroots (in this case, floral roots).

  15. Hi Alina, It is nice to meet you.

  16. JoeCardillo says:

    Very cool – it’s nice to meet you Alina and congrats on getting Spun

    Do you follow Don Norman’s stuff at all? Love his perspectives on everyday design that most people overlook..

  17. Word Ninja says:

    Alina, welcome to #FF and great to learn a little bit about you. Broken bones and all. Congrats!

  18. bdorman264 says:

    Well Alina, your lucky day because ginidietrich only lets me comment twice a month and it appears I have not used up my quota for October yet. Oh happy days….
    Public Transportation, huh? Can you come down to Polk County Florida and help us out? We have a county the size of Rhode Island but not densely populated. It’s been a real dilemma on how to fund this and they are trying to put a 1 cent sales take on the referendum next year and I’m pretty sure it won’t fly. 
    Nice to meet you, if Gini says you are ok, then is must be so because she’s smart like that if you didn’t notice.

  19. RebeccaTodd says:

    Happy Follow Friday Alina!

  20. AlinaKelly says:

    ginidietrich What a day! Thanks so much Gini – having so much fun!!

  21. AlinaKelly says:

    MediaLabRat Pleased to meet/tweet you. Thanks for participating in the bandwagon effect.

  22. AlinaKelly says:

    AimeelWest eveypistorio Hello Aimee! Thanks for the endorsement!

  23. AlinaKelly says:

    eveypistorio Thank Yvette. And thanks again for sharing your wonderful photos!

  24. AlinaKelly says:

    creativeoncall Thanks for the mention Chuck!

  25. dbvickery says:

    But…does she have better stories for the broken bones? It’s all about the story-telling. Make it up if you must.

    • AlinaKelly says:

      dbvickery I climbed Kilimanjaro and made it to the top. Unfortunately, I slipped and fell approximately a third of the way back down and had to be transported to base camp by Sherpas. It was mortifying.
      The foregoing was pure fabrication. 
      Actual story: I tripped and fell on the last step coming down from the upper deck in my backyard. 
      Lessons learned: (1) Flagstone is unforgiving. (2) Drink milk to keep your bones strong.

  26. […] Gin and Topics of November as we are taking a Black Friday break next week. It is brought to you by Alina Kelly, Kat Krieger, Jeff Esposito, and yours […]

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