Katie McCleary

WHY Katie is a whirlwind of creativity, excitement, and endless drive that makes this program such a success. She pushes and promotes both the youth in the program and the staff and volunteer working for program to do their best, but insists they have fun along the way. Not only has Katie managed to create a waiting list for 916 Ink services, but she has rallied a group of committed volunteers that work with the youth in the program. None of this would happen without Katie. Her enthusiasm, creative thinking, and artistic energy is what makes 916 Ink. The young people love the program, and I truly believe that Katie is making everlasting change in the youth that participate.


–3 WORDS THAT DESCRIBE SACRAMENTO? Vibrant, dreamers and community.

–FAVE LOCAL CAUSE? Well, I have to say my own — I run an innovative literacy non-profit that transforms everyday kids into published authors. We do this because it improves academic confidence, increases reading and writing skills, and empowers youth to find their voice. I founded 916 Ink three years ago, and it’s the best career choice I’ve made in my life. If I had to choose a second cause… I’d definitely pick The Youth Development Network because they train adults how to see youth as whole people who can take on leadership roles and be decision makers.

–WHICH SACRAMENTO WOMAN INSPIRES YOU? I’m impressed by Kim Tucker at 3fold Communications because she’s a community builder and innovator. She’s an optimist and has invested her time and talent into making Sacramento non-profits stronger. Everytime I walk away from a meeting with Kim, I’m re-energized to throw myself back into my work to impact more teens and kids.

–WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN SACRAMENTO IN 5 YEARS? My dream for Sacramento is a whimsical literacy center with a fun storefront, like the ones they have in San Francisco (pirate store), Los Angeles (time travel mart), and Seattle (alien and robot gear). I want ours to be a place where readers and writers can congregate and build community, where kids and teens are transported into an imaginative and creative space to fuel their own stories and poetry. It’d have to be near the light rail (hopefully on the grid) so that schools could affordably bring their students on field trips to the fun classrooms behind the storefront. I’m working on it!

–FAVORITE SACRAMENTO “GUILTY PLEASURE”? The steak tartar appetizer at Ella’s, followed by a funny indie movie at The Crest. Because I have 2 small kids, it rarely happens, but when it does… oh, man!

–IF I WASN’T IN MY CURRENT CAREER… I’d be a chef—I love everything about creating recipes and feeding people. I ADORE our farmer’s markets in Sacramento. We are truly blessed with great regional food.

–LADY MENTOR GROWING UP? It feels easy and cliché to say “my mom,” but it’s true. She didn’t have it easy as a young mother with two kids living paycheck to paycheck. Plus, my sister is blind and developmentally disabled, and in the 80s society didn’t know what to do with kids like that (especially in rural Idaho). My mom refused to live an ordinary life and lifted my family out of poverty by harnessing her entrepreneurial spirit and making sure my sister and I experienced life’s best treasures. She had to make several difficult choices, but in the end they paid off.

–BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? Everyone is trying to be happy. Nobody wants to be sad or upset. How this translates for me, is that I see myself as an ambassador to happiness—helping teens, kids, teachers, parents, and people in general makes me happy. Empowering them to lead happier lives is pure joy. So, when someone is grumpy or putting up obstacles or stressed out, it’s my job to be patient, kind, and listen. Then I try to help problem solve. This often helps them get to a better place. Karma is real. Putting out positive energy is like throwing out a bunch of awesome boomerangs that pay off at some point in your life.

–ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE TO A SACRAMENTO WOMAN IN HER 20’S? It takes ten years to find your true self and your voice, and even after that, it’s a never-ending process of discovery and rebalancing your own self-care. You will fail and that’s okay. The important thing is to keep identifying your core values, articulate and implement them, and let that journey lead you on a path to happiness and fulfillment.

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