G123. Kenny McDonald

Building with Teamwork at the Columbus Partnership with Kenny McDonald

My guest today is Kenny McDonald, third president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, a civic organization of our city’s top business leaders. His current day-to-day environment varies greatly from his early childhood experience, living on a ranch in Eastern Montana – which sounds like an episode straight out of Yellowstone. This small town upbringing, and his achievements playing team sports, shaped the man, and the leader, he is today.

In this episode, we learn how he’s translated those qualities to his career work as a community builder. In fact, he tells us of a recruiting trip he took here just before the Columbus Partnership came to be, where he and his family were introduced to the city on ComFest weekend – an important city event that just celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend in Victorian Village.

I ask Kenny about how his role has changed, both after taking over as CEO, and since the beginning of our current period of social and economic upheaval. We also unpack the perfect circumstances, and incredible teamwork by hundreds across the region, it took to land the Intel development project for our city.

Kenny’s voice and perspective on the true viability and cultural health of Columbus is second to none. Even, and especially, as the larger civic foundation shakes under our feet, he and the community leaders he’s taken on the role of “coach” for, represent as good a shot as any we have at coming out the other side as a stronger, more united people. 

The only thing we can do now is come together. I’m proud to be part of Kenny’s team and excited to share this important episode with you this week.

What Brett asks:

  • Kenny’s early childhood on a sheep ranch
  • Prioritizing sports over academics 
  • Embracing leadership roles 
  • Cultural experience going to grad school in the South
  • Getting into economic development 
  • Gaining a global perspective and building a network
  • Moving from Charlotte to Columbus
  • Hope for the future