"We've been training the world to see Columbus as smart and open."

Future 50 Class of 2020

Kelly Atkinson

Diversity and inclusion coordinator and office administrator, Barnes & Thornburg

About: Kelly Atkinson serves as a local liaison in marketing, information technology, accounting and human resources. She manages the firm’s business services team, addresses facilities concerns and coordinates office events. Atkinson works with the office managing partner on strategic planning, community involvement, recruiting, business development and making the office a desirable atmosphere for law professionals.

Since February 2018, Atkinson has worked with the firm’s diversity and inclusion director to launch programs, events and initiatives. The firm dedicates most of its attention to sponsorship of employees, aligning diversity and inclusion with how it does business as a firm and creating a culture of inclusion.

Outside of work: Atkinson will become chair of the trustees of the Columbus Metropolitan Club in 2021 after serving as membership chair and vice chair. Atkinson is the co-inventor of Gender Equity in the Legal Industry, or GELI, an initiative with other law firms that promotes gender equity programs for hundreds of members of the Columbus legal community.

50 ideas to move the region forward. Here's who else is in the Future 50 Class of 2020.

What does Columbus need to thrive? “To treat every person and group who visits Columbus for a night or to make a home with civility and respect, and to continue the Columbus Way by collaboratively working together to make our city the best it can be. We’ve been training the world to see Columbus as smart and open. I believe it’s our willingness to strive for more with that inclusion lens that will keep us moving forward.”

Atkinson’s idea: “Working with the 49 others to identify around seven issues that affect our city, then split into groups of 5-10 to address each one. We would work with the nonprofits and primary for-profit businesses that support each issue to understand how they can work together to divide and conquer the issue more collaboratively.”

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