High Profile - Genelle Taylor Kumpe
Born and raised in Salinas, California, Genelle Taylor Kumpe left one Valley for another to study business at Fresno State—a pathway she knew she wanted to pursue since she was 15 as a member of the Future Business Leaders of America in high school. College was the catalyst for Genelle’s impeccable work ethic and giving 110% of herself with whatever she’s involved in. “I lived, breathed, and dreamt everything Craig School of Business. I took classes there, I worked there as a student assistant in the Undergraduate Advising Office, my roommate and best friend in college worked in the Dean’s Office, we were both involved in student leadership, and we even house/pet sat for professors for some extra cash.”
Shortly after college, Genelle started working for a community organization that offered a program to train and teach people how to start their own businesses. Having been a collaborative project with Fresno State, Genelle transitioned over and started working back at her alma mater. During her tenure there, she was an integral part of the creation of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and developed and led programs that taught people from kindergarten to adulthood about the importance of innovation and creativity and, with the right tools, that they can be in control of their own destiny. “My favorite part of working at the Lyles Center was working with young people and being able to physically see the switch flip on in a student who went from having low self-esteem to discovering their passion and believing in themselves that they can do anything they set their mind to.”
While at Fresno State, Genelle found herself bitten by the “entrepreneurial bug” and partnered in three different entrepreneurial endeavors herself. “My business endeavors ran the gamut, from a Chinese restaurant, to an afterschool program for elementary schools, to bringing the ever-so-popular blowout services to the Fresno market.” Genelle was always busy and thrived in that environment.
Being intrigued by starting new things, she took part in starting a different kind of Rotary Club for those young professionals that wanted to network with other like-minded individuals in their community. That Rotary Club is where Genelle met her husband of 14 years, Matt Kumpe. They have two beautiful children, Aiden, who is 13, and Ava, who is 10. “Having children absolutely changed my life. I realized just how selfish I was and that life is no longer just about me. I have a responsibility to be the absolute best person I can be, and to use my skills and talents to help create change in the world. I want my kids to grow up in a better community.”
After losing her dad to cancer in 2011, Genelle’s belief that we only have one life and never know what tomorrow will bring became a stark reality. Her drive to create change in the community delved deeper and soon another opportunity to serve presented itself. After 14 years at Fresno State, Genelle left behind her secure state job with a pension for a higher calling and became the Executive Director at the Marjaree Mason Center (MMC), Fresno County’s only dedicated shelter and support services for those affected by domestic violence. “The support of my family to take this leap was everything to me. I knew it was going to not only be a steep learning curve, but that it was truly eye-opening, ground-shaking work and it wasn’t going to be easy.”
The affirmation that people are a product of their environment ran through and through during this time. What Genelle saw and learned during her three years at the MMC changed her life forever. “You can’t turn back once you’re made aware of the trauma people endure in their lives. The ability to make a dramatic difference in a person’s life is real. But you have to be able to meet people where they are, not blame them for not knowing, but teach them the skills and give them the tools to be able to have choices for a better life.” On she went to teach soft skills/employability skills at Fresno City College, which allowed her to slow down and smell the roses with her family for a bit.
Since sitting still is not Genelle’s strong suit, she soon was presented with yet another opportunity she couldn’t pass up. Genelle’s current role is Chief Operating Officer of the Fresno Business Council (FBC) and Executive Director of the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance. “I oversee operations for the Fresno Business Council and its manufacturing initiative, the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance. FBC created the Alliance to support their goals of improving social and economic growth in the Central Valley.” This opportunity was made for her as it takes all of her life’s experiences and rolled it up into one. “And, I get to choose people to walk alongside me. The FBC is looking for the next generation of leaders to embrace the lessons learned over the last 25 years and go forward as community stewards. We believe a great community—one that provides opportunities for prosperity and well-being to everyone—depends upon informed, engaged, enlightened, and effective citizens. It requires all of us to remember we are a citizen first, not our day job or single interest. We are all responsible for the quality of life in our community.”
With an aim to create economic and social change with a lasting impact on Fresno’s community, the Fresno Business Council combines its collective passion and intellectual capital to form strategic solutions for local issues. The Council’s CEO and board take a leadership role in executing their strategies, and have been the force behind major local initiatives involving education, land use, workforce development, and more. Among the many projects incubated and launched by the FBC is the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance, which provides support for local manufacturers through elevating the workforce pipeline, educating the public on the industry, building constructive relationships, and hosting the annual Valley Made Manufacturing Summit.
Genelle enjoys the hustle of balancing life as a wife, mom, and community steward. In her “free time,” she volunteers to continue fueling her passion for those things that create change in our community. In addition to being the President of the Made For Them Board of Directors, a social enterprise combatting human trafficking, Genelle is a current member in the La Feliz Guild and was a founding member of the La Visionaria Guild, both of which are non-profit organizations whose mission is to engage in creative and innovate ways to raise funds, advocate for children, and to promote goodwill for Valley Children’s Hospital. She also discovered her competitive nature by participating in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man & Woman of the Year campaign. Together with her husband and rock star team of friends, Genelle broke the Central California Woman of the Year record and raised over $203,000 during the 10-week campaign. She said yes to the nomination and took the challenge on in honor of her dad, and had the opportunity of dedicating a cancer research grant in his name.
“I truly feel as if I am walking the path that has been created for me. I am blessed beyond belief to have my family, friends, and life’s work that fulfills my passion and feeds my soul. I believe our generation and the generation after ours, and after theirs, and so on, has the ability to move mountains. In a world of disruption and chaos, I see an incredible shift in our community’s beliefs that we can be better. Call me a dreamer, but take a moment to see my vision. Imagine living in a community where everyone is and feels valued. Where people work together to ensure that every child is safe and offered opportunities to learn and decide what kind of life they want to create. Together we can inspire the spirit of community in every neighborhood, classroom, worksite, and place of worship, and create an extraordinary culture—one that delivers the outcomes everyone wants: inclusive opportunity, prosperity and well-being.”
Imagine Fresno as this community.