November Young Professional Spotlight
Meet Kristen Edson
Occupation: Deputy Library Director
Organization: East Baton Rouge Parish Library
Tell us a little about your Baton Rouge Story. What brought you to Baton Rouge?
I came to Baton Rouge after spending just over ten years in Chicago working for the Chicago Public Library. While I love the Windy City and my Midwestern roots, I needed a change of pace both in my personal and professional life. I knew I could do more professionally to impact library services and communities through staff engagement and long-term planning. What I needed to accomplish this is an organization that would foster the development of my executive level skills and be open to receiving my fresh outlook.
As luck would have it, the Deputy Director position opened up right when I was looking for it. The welcome I received during my interview process was exceedingly warm by all involved. My colleagues truly cared about my transition to life in Baton Rouge, showing me even more that this is the kind of community that I could call home. As I’ve settled in, I have made great connections with native Baton Rougeans and transplants alike.
Tell us more about how you’re involved in Baton Rouge.
I am a member of Forum 35 and a very active member of the service committee. Through Forum I have had the opportunity to volunteer at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, St. Vincent DePaul, Dancing for Big Buddy Gala and so much more. I also joined my neighborhood’s civic association, the Garden District Civic Association. I’ve also volunteered for a couple of events through the Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance and led the Library’s team for Mayor Broome’s Operation Fresh Start. I’m always looking for ways to give my time to the community as my schedule allows and may explore more organizations in my second year here in Baton Rouge.
What is your favorite thing about Baton Rouge?
The people! As someone who is not from this area and has recently moved here, everyone I have met has been so accepting. I’ve noticed that the Baton Rouge community has an overall willingness to work together for the better of their neighborhood or common goal. There are a large number of stable non-profits and active neighborhood associations here that create pathways for community involvement. Compared to other cities that I’ve lived in, Baton Rouge’s non-profits and neighborhood civic associations make greater efforts to work together and stay connected, providing more opportunities for citizens to be civically active.
What is your dream for Baton Rouge?
This is a hard question for me to answer as a new transplant. I will say I wish that locals wouldn’t sell Baton Rouge short. There is more going on here than people give it credit for. I guess I dream of a place that doesn’t hold itself back because of past experiences. Today is not yesterday. Just because something did not work 20 years ago, or even five years ago doesn’t mean it won’t work now. Keep moving forward, keep pushing back against the nay-sayers.
How are young professionals like yourself shaping Baton Rouge?
As a member of the Barton Leadership class of 2019, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some amazing young professionals. The commitment that these men and women show to their community is inspiring. They seek out opportunities to serve on boards, raise money and volunteer their time to help make a difference. They understand that you can’t just talk about changing the way things have always been done. You have to put in the work and show up. From what I have seen so far, the next crop of local leaders will be forthright and determined when it comes to doing what is best for Baton Rouge.
What would you say to someone considering a move to Baton Rouge?
People here have big hearts and big plans, you should come be a part of the next chapter.
What is your Baton Rouge favorite?
- Place to eat: City Pork
- Place to hang out: The Bulldog
- Place to capture the perfect Instagram pic: City Park & City Park Lake
- Place to people watch: The Main Library, and I’m not just saying that because that is where I work. Libraries are where no matter your circumstances or walk of life you are welcome, so you get to see the full tapestry that is humanity.
- Place to network: I take every event, service project, library program and basically any time I am not at home as a networking opportunity. I always have my business cards with me because you never know where you will find a connection.
- Way to give back: Baton Rouge Food Bank
- Event: White Light Night
With significant job growth, a bustling arts scene, delectable cuisine, abundant outdoor activities and more, the Capital Region attracts talent of all ages, including young professionals. Whether straight out of college or looking to establish their own business, more and more young professionals are choosing to lay their roots in Baton Rouge.
Each month, BRAC highlights one of these young Baton Rouge Area movers and shakers in the Young Professional Spotlight.