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Theresa Kiernan Communicating with Wit and Humor Written By Amy McElroy W hen asked how people would describe her, in a nutshell, Theresa Kiernan smiled and said, “If people could say two things about me, they’d say, ‘she’s not quiet and she likes to goof around a lot.’” That’s Kiernan to a tee. When it comes to communicating, she does it with wit and humor. Kiernan brings these qualities to her current roles as communications consultant, Program Facilitator for Leadership Morgan Hill, and President of Morgan Hill Rotary Club. In a world where people are hard-pressed to slow down and focus, her communications style cuts through all the distraction and wins people over every time. Her journey to this point is an interesting one. After receiving a degree in business administration in her native upstate New York, Kiernan knew one thing for sure: “I tried a job in a bank’s trust department where you could hear a pin drop. It was way too quiet for me. In the 1980s, I switched into employee training and development, and was also an executive for non-profits.” In 1999, her husband Bill landed a job in finance at Dole Foods in Salinas, so they moved the family to Hollister. She settled in quickly, working in several non-profit positions, eventually becoming Executive Director of the San Benito Chamber of Commerce. In 2002, the Kiernans relocated to Morgan Hill to shorten the family’s commute times. Her husband had joined a high tech firm in San Jose, and their son’s love of ice hockey required driving to frequent practices and games. TK & Associates Kiernan founded a communications consultancy, TK & Associates, to provide professional development training focused on relationship build- ing through solid communications skills. Among her key clients are San Francisco-based Decker Communications, a professional training company; and Leadership Morgan Hill, a nonprofit organization. It’s no wonder Kiernan gravitated to a career in communications, given her talent for connecting with people and inspiring teamwork. She brings out the best in others and her natural sense of humor breaks the ice. Kiernan brings out the fun-loving side in others too. One day a client teasingly asked, “Theresa, what have you accomplished today?” Without missing a beat, Kiernan quipped, “I don’t know, but I sure made a lot of new friends.” Leadership Morgan Hill While in Hollister, Kiernan served on the steering committee that started the leadership program for San Benito County and participated in its first class. She also served as a volunteer with Leadership Gilroy for one year. After moving to Morgan Hill, she took a position working for the downtown association. In 2013, she was hired as Program Facilitator for Leadership Morgan Hill, a nine-month leader- ship development program that boasts an impressive list of alums. Kiernan continues to serve in this role today and looks forward to working with each year’s new class. “My favorite part of the program,” she said, “is the people. . .the board members, and the people who complete the program and get involved in the community and give back—which is the mission.” The program is open to all Morgan Hill residents by application. Approximately 20 people are selected for each year’s class. The program brings together people with a variety of GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MAY/JUNE 2017 backgrounds and interests. According to Kiernan, the common denominator is interest in community involvement. “If you have the slightest desire to get involved…take this program to find out about your community. You can learn about every aspect, from public safety to city government to education, and economic development.” For people who want to connect with others and volunteer in the Morgan Hill commu- nity, “It’s a way to find their niche.” Morgan Hill Rotary Club The origin of Kiernan’s primary volunteer commitment, Morgan Hill Rotary, also stems from her time in Hollister. She’d just begun to meet people there when she befriended the Hollister librarian who asked her to head the adult literacy program. Then, the city manager asked her to check out the local Rotary club. “It blew my mind that the city man- ager asked me!” Kiernan said. Now, with more than a decade of involvement in Rotary clubs, she describes Rotarians as “the most awesome people I’ve ever met. They’re my extended family. The ones [I’m] with, side by side every week, doing service projects.” Morgan Hill Rotary is a group that seems to fit her jovial and generous personality. “There’s a lot of teasing that goes on, but they will be there for you… anywhere anytime.” Kiernan was a club officer for about five years before stepping into her current position as president. She’s enjoyed many roles in the club—taking charge of committees, coordinating events, volunteering for specific tasks. According to Kiernan, “One of the beauties of Rotary is that it’s bigger than the small club that you’re in. It’s nice to be in an organization where you can be yourself and where you can do some good both locally, nationally, and globally.” gmhtoday.com 49