J. Kelly Hoey

Name: Amy Kaherl Title: Executive Director of Detroit SOUP

A visit to Detroit earlier this year as part of Comcast’s Tomorrow Tour is frankly, the networking gift that keeps giving. Case in point: meeting a true champion of change, Amy Kaherl. Amy founded Detroit SOUP in 2010. Its mission is simple and absolutely brilliant: Detroit SOUP is a public soup dinner. You pay $5.00 to attend, eat soup (+ bread + salad) and learn about creative projects happening in the city of Detroit. Your $5.00 also gets you a vote to decide which project goes home with the money raised at the dinner. As of 2015, SOUP events have raised more than $100,000. Past SOUP winners have started nonprofits, local businesses, after school programs and park clean-ups. By the numbers:

  • 800+ ideas have been submitted to Detroit SOUP
  • 450+ ideas have pitched at SOUP
  • Over 15,000 people have attended a Detroit SOUP dinner

Detroit SOUP holds events in 12 neighborhoods around Detroit — and yes, Amy wants others to use the power of SOUP to fund new projects/people/ideas in their communities. You can find information on starting a SOUP here.

Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?

Amy: I like to say that I am an accidental entrepreneur! I have my MA in Theology and while I had a lot of amazing classes in Seminary I did not take a business class! I run Detroit SOUP because it is so much of who I am and how I think communities can be transformed. I believe that we can gather together and talk together about what makes community great! I stumbled into the project and then helped make it to what it is now. It’s been a lot of fun to watch it grow around the world.

Me: What problem would you like solved?

Amy: Getting my student loans paid!

Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?

Amy: I am glad I didn’t file our nonprofit status until 2015. We worked on the project for 5 years before diving deep into creating our own autonomy. We relied on the community and other nonprofits to support our work before it became really obvious that it was our time!

Me: What does success look like for you?

Amy: Having a supportive team around me, growing and building our movement together. I have what I assumed was the big successes (acknowledged as a White House Champion of Change) and they felt really nice but it means you want (and have) to work harder. I just want to do the work and when the tasks get done and they are done well I feel so proud that we are doing this together.

Me: Who are your heroes?

Amy: Hands down Women Suffragettes. These women sacrificed their lives, livelihood, dreams, passions, and desires for the right for all women to vote. It was so important to my understanding of liberation and freedom. These sacrifices have [made] me love the idea of democracy and attempt to practice it.

Me: What is your best discovery?

Amy: I am not a morning person but I have a better chance of getting up and not screwing around for a few hours if I make a cup of coffee, play my favorite record, and read a couple chapters in a book. I can do work after that!

Me: What would the title of your biography be?

Amy: The Theological DJ: Creating Community through Food and Shenanigans!

Me: What is your biggest regret?

Amy: “You don’t have to go to this conservative University if you don’t want to.” I wish I had a different college experience. I went someplace that didn’t value me as a woman and it had pretty intense outcomes. It’s part of my story but I think it is one of the few things that I look back on and say, why did I do that? I wouldn’t change it because it has helped make me into the person I am but it is something that used to really make me mad!

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