Kelly O’Rourke Johns, Minnesota Masonic Charities

Title: Director of communications

Age: 50


Communications veteran Kelly O’Rourke Johns brings strategic planning experience to her new role as director of communications for Minnesota Masonic Charities.

Johns had worked in marketing and communications and as an editor in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors before joining the charitable arm of the Minnesota Masonic Family of Fraternities.

“I was drawn to the nonprofit sector,” Johns said. “I kept taking nonprofit work, both pro bono and otherwise, because it’s gratifying to me to provide strategic communications direction to help them achieve their goals.”

One of her primary responsibilities is building awareness of Minnesota Masonic Charities, which the Grand Lodge of Minnesota created in 2004 as a nonprofit umbrella organization to aid members, families and the community.

The organization supports social services, health care, medical research and education. Programs include elder services; the Masonic Cancer Center Fund, pursuing research and treatment in collaboration with the University of Minnesota; community outreach through matching grants to local lodges and chapters, and a scholarship program that Johns said this year provided more than $650,000 in scholarships.

Both Masons and nonmembers can contribute and receive benefits.

Johns, who most recently worked as a communications consultant, is the former director of creative services for Kalmbach Publishing and editorial director for Renew Media. She also worked as an entertainment publicist and a development associate in California and as editor of a business magazine in Chicago.

She has a master’s of arts degree in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Q: What appealed to you about the nonprofit sector?

A: Being able to take my experience in the for-profit community and … see the results is gratifying to me. In looking into nonprofits that I wanted to serve, Minnesota Masonic Charities was the poster child of the well-run nonprofit.


Q: What do you find challenging in your new role?

A: It’s a relatively new organization, so we’ve really just begun to educate not only the Masonic groups but also the larger public about what we do. It’s a tricky business because the Masonic Family of Fraternities tends to place a low priority on recognition for their works.


Q: What programs would you like to highlight?

A: Minnesota Masonic Charities pledged the largest gift ever made to the University of Minnesota, $65 million, in 2008, and has supported research and care at the U totaling something like $100 million. The scholarships that Minnesota Masonic Charities provides to high school seniors are incredible opportunities.