May 2023 Alumni Spotlights: Kelly Watkins (FCHS 1984) & Carol Richert Hart (NAHS 1959)

May 2023 Alumni Spotlights: Kelly Watkins (FCHS 1984) & Carol Richert Hart (NAHS 1959)

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Part of the fun in preparing Alumni Spotlight… is simply choosing who to profile. It takes a pinch of creativity to come up with combinations of two people that have the right balance of similarities and differences. Then, there’s one last touch: deciding what “label” fits the people paired up here. This month’s label is “world ambassadors”. Neither of these women planned their careers with that label in mind. They invented their life pursuits as they went along and there was almost nothing predictable about the roads they chose. Read on and you’ll see how and why they went overseas… looking to serve a broad range of needs on every continent.

Introduction and profiles contributed by Rex Bickers, FCHS ‘70

Kelly Watkins has wanted to travel the world since she took her first (of many) trips to Europe, at age four. That’s when she had her first ideas of becoming a “globalist”. Those dreams coincided with her mother becoming Dean of Girls during the legendary Superhicks year (1970-1971). Carolyn, known for most of her Floyd Central career as Mrs. Hendricks… went on to be part of the FC counseling staff, retiring in 1998. Kelly’s global interest led her to take eight years of foreign language classes in high school: German (all four years), adding Spanish, then one year of French. She went on to earn two IU degrees, her B.S. in Marketing, followed by an MBA in International Business.

Contemplating job choices, she concluded this: finding, or more aptly, creating her ideal career required forming her own company. It would focus squarely on Leadership Development, offering consulting, training and executive coaching. She sought to work with companies who wanted their people to improve leadership and communication, thereby becoming more effective in a global environment.

Kelly has worked on “both sides” in promoting international trade. In the US, she served the National Association of Women Business Owners as a leader in its Global Development initiative. Currently, she is a Board Member for NADEC, the National Association of District Export Councils. Collectively, the District Export Councils, or DECs function as an advisory group that works closely with the US Dept. of Commerce, helping to enhance export awareness and reduce barriers in selling American products around the world.

In developing countries, Kelly is a much sought-after speaker at conferences, seminars and training events… in faraway places like Kenya, Siberia and the Middle East. In particular, Dubai has been a recurring destination. It stands out as a crucible of cultures, commerce and technology. For Kelly, it’s been a case study for the many ways that geography and culture impact the conduct of international business. For three years, Kelly served as full-time faculty in the International Business program of IU’s Kelley School. The lessons she’s learned from numerous experiences in Dubai have frequently been part of the curriculum in the courses she teaches.

With all the professional miles she’s logged, she loves travel for fun just as much. Kelly has been to all 50 states and all 7 continents. In Antarctica, she walked with the penguins. She claims they are adorable… and also smelly. Kelly and her husband Ross Worrall live in Floyds Knobs, where they have raised two children: Ethan Worrall FCHS ‘17 and Autumn Worrall FCHS ‘20. Ethan graduated from IU with an MBA in ’22 and works for Deloitte. Autumn is entering her senior year at IU and studying Speech Pathology.

The US Department of State is engaged in economic development, health, and education programs around the world. In Carol Hart’s career, many of these programs interconnect to numerous chapters in her decades of global service. Carol pursued life where her curiosity and her heart led her.

Carol was inducted into the NAHS Hall of Fame in 2022. She had excelled in high school: editor of the NAHS Blotter, Class Secretary, and valedictorian. She earned a Ford Foundation Masters Program scholarship to go to IU. She took an unexpected turn there: a unique Cold War pilot program, offering Intensive Russian language studies. With a BA magna cum laude in Government and Russian language (with Phi Beta Kappa distinction), she remained at IU for grad school. She completed an MA in French literature and entered the doctoral program in French and Italian. She was a graduate instructor and completed all the PhD course work… but chose a non-academic career and world travel.

After Bloomington, an inflection point came during Carol’s summer travels in Yugoslavia, when she met Terry Hart, a British aeronautical engineer who became her husband eventually. The two of them joined the fabled “Hippie Trail” (headed towards India) in 1969, traveling over land. Nine months later, they stopped in Afghanistan, struck by the physical beauty of a place that seemed to be living, as Carol remembers it…  in a medieval time-warp. Terry was almost immediately offered a position on the Faculty of Engineering at Kabul University, and Carol became Director of the English Language Center of the US Information Service (USIS) in Kabul. The Harts were in Kabul from 1970-75, and their first son, Markku Toryalai, was born there.

For thirty-three years, Carol oversaw a broad range of activities across Africa… initially in Algeria, then continuing on to Mali, to Kenya and Nigeria. She directed health and education programs for two nonprofit Boston companies that had USAID (Agency for International Development) contracts and two Washington-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs). She managed a regional training program in demography, which included setting up the first computerized census for nine African nations. She was relocated to Mali’s Ministry of Health for ever-expanding programs: family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention and improvements in adolescent reproductive health. By 1996, she was recruited as an advisor to the Center for African Family Studies in Kenya. She followed that with management of a $95 million regional project in Nigeria for health, education and governance. That went on to include an emergency polio vaccination component, 2006-2008.

The Harts’ older son, Tory, is a health sector logistics specialist, contracting to UNICEF and WHO. Their younger son, Ashby, died tragically at the age of 29, while working as a veterinary technician in California. There is also an unofficially adopted son, Alfousseiny Kelly, born in Mali (now a US citizen) and currently living in Boston. He is well known as an artist throughout West Africa, where his paintings have received numerous awards.

Most recently, she has been “playing granny” to her two granddaughters, ages 9 and 11, while their father renovates the family’s 200-year-old farmhouse in the French Alps.

Read the complete May 2023 Legacy Ledger. 

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