Monica Kile loves St. Pete. We mean *really* loves St. Pete. In fact, she's one of our city's biggest cheerleaders. As executive director of Preserve the 'Burg, Kile helps preserve St. Pete's elusive charm by keeping our oldest and most cherished buildings alive. But even outside of the work she does professionally, Kile is constantly searching for ways to give this city a boost. Through her dedicated work with Friends of North Shore Elementary and the ever-popular Coffee Pot Turkey Trot, Kile uses her deep well of knowledge and love for the city to foster that same spark in others.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
I’ve been involved with Preserve the ‘Burg for most of the time I’ve been in St. Pete, either as a volunteer, a board member and now as staff. I’m really active with my running group, the Forerunners. I’m the chair of the Coffee Pot Turkey Trot, which is the fundraiser for North Shore Elementary. My husband and I are very involved in our children’s school, and it’s really made huge strides in the last few years, getting families to choose their local school.
What gets you out of bed every day?
My alarm gets me out of bed every day, which usually goes off around 4:45, because I run pretty religiously with a group around five days a week.
Why St. Pete?
I love St. Pete. I moved to St Pete to go to graduate school. My cousin is a history professor at USF-St. Pete and he was trying to convince me to come to St. Pete to do the Florida Studies program. And he invited me down to do a tour of the city with him, because I was kind of on the fence, and he drove me all around St. Pete, showed me all of the great neighborhoods and I was pretty much sold. But I distinctly remember driving down Central Avenue and I saw the balconies on Central Avenue and I thought, this place is really cool.
What is one habit that you keep?
I run pretty regularly. It’s sort of my salvation, my favorite thing to do at this point.
Who are some people that influence you?
I’ve been very influenced by Peter Belmont, one of the founders of Preserve the ‘Burg, because of his dedication to the city. I believe he’s a really unsung hero in St. Pete. I think a lot of people have the wrong impression of him, and who he is, and what he stands for. He has incredible vision, he was one of the first people to build in downtown 20-something years ago, before anyone thought that was a good thing to do. My cousin, Ray Arsenault, the history professor, as well. Just for his tireless work not just for the city, but people all over the country with his civil rights history work. An old boss of mine, Janine Farver [Florida Humanities Council], who was an incredible mentor to me. I still reference the way she did things and ran things more than 10 years after working with her.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
My whole world kind of shifted a few years ago with some health traumas that my husband suffered. For a while, we all really felt sorry for ourselves, and we really shifted our attitude to one of gratitude after some self-healing practices that we went through. I have found that when I get up in the morning and I thank whatever higher power I believe to be out there for the things that I’ve been given in my life, it makes me interpret things so differently. That has been a shift in my thinking really over the last 2-3 years and it changes everything.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
How powerful the court of public opinion can be. I actually think Preserve the ‘Burg has done a really good job of tapping into people’s love for the city. But people that oppose some of the work that Preserve the ‘Burg has done have also been very effective at making us look like we are radical, irrational obstructionists. For a little while that was winning, and I think we have learned to harness people’s good opinion of the work we do and the importance of maintaining our charm and incredible sense of place, and to be able to use that public opinion in our favor.
I’ve got another marathon on the horizon, that’s what’s next for me. When I’m not thinking about historic preservation, I’m thinking about what my next race is.
Preserve the ‘Burg is looking to explore some new ways of doing business in terms of purchasing, renovating and re-selling historic properties. It’s something we’ve talked about for quite a while.