from the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal‘s 2021 Top 25 Women in Business
Kelly O’Brien, the Executive Director of the Berwick Industrial Development Association (B.I.D.A.), was recently named to the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal’s Top 25 Women in Business.
Name: Kelly O’Brien
Title: Executive Director
Company: Berwick Industrial Development Association
Address: 107 S. Market Street, Berwick
“No matter what you are doing – do your best, and have fun”, is the advice that Kelly O’Brien, executive director of the Berwick Industrial Development Association (B.I.D.A.), offers when it comes to achieving success in one’s life. “If you are not having fun then something is not right,” she adds.
The businesswoman oversees the marketing and management of BIDA’s industrial assets, real property, and staff. In the economic development aspect, she works with businesses to provide access to resources and to provide business consulting services. She assists with start-up and growth planning for new and existing business; coordinates efforts and facilitates for educational institutions and medical providers for program development and partnerships; and develops and implements programs and services to improve workforce opportunities in conjunction with state agencies and other economic development partners.
O’Brien created and launched BIDA’s vocational scholarship program for students of the Berwick Area School District that are going into a vocation at a post-secondary training or higher education institution, which is going into its third year.
Enjoying her grandchildren at present, her active volunteering energy has been redirected, but O’Brien has served as a school board member in the Benton Area School District; former founder and member of Benton Town Watch; and a member of the Democratic committee and representative for Benton Borough. She has participated in various booster clubs, coaching, holiday events, and soup kitchens. She is currently a volunteer for United Way’s Read Across America.
O’Brien graduated from Peirce College of Philadelphia in 1997 and 1999 with an A.S. and B.S. in paralegal studies, graduated Magna Cum Laude, served as president of the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa; president of her sorority, Alpha Beta Sigma; member of the paralegal association; a Pierce College Ambassador and worked as the assistant to the Vice President of Institutional Development early in her career. All this while have three children under the age of five and working full time.
It was while working with a solar energy start-up company in 2007, she became introduced to the Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) program and became its coordinator for the Greater Susquehanna KIZ program. She fell in love with economic development and the entrepreneurial passion and drive within. “I get to learn every day about industry, manufacturing, supply chain management, real estate development, environmental issues, government regulations and the agencies that create and manage them, and so much more,” she notes.
Having had many people advise her throughout her life she regards everyone she meets as a mentor. “I value everyone that I get to work with and develop relationships with. I only hope that I can give back half of what they all give me,” she adds.
O’Brien attributes her success to all the entrepreneurs and businesses who continue to feed her passion and continue to inspire her every day, and to those people that have worked with her throughout her various positions. “The staff you have and the employees that work with you, not for you, are what help elevate you to a new level of success. Support of family and loved ones are necessary in order to allow for that balance of professional and personal time. No one can be successful alone,” the businesswoman explained.
She attributes her success to an amazing life partner who believes O’Brien can accomplish anything, and to her children, now grown and starting their own families, who have become her greatest cheerleaders and she is still their biggest fan.
She received the President’s Award from the Central PA Chamber of Commerce.
“I love what I do and cannot imagine doing anything else,” she concludes.