Presenter & Audience Quotes (Select)
Kelly’s vibrant personality and extensive experience (in fine arts and social justice) brought a whole new level of empowerment to our MeToo Rally. Her heart shines through her work and locked right in with our mission of supporting survivors of sexual assault. We wish we could have her around our campus all day, every day!
-Josie Albrecht, Chatham University, after #MeToo Rally keynote (2019)
I have been thinking about the best way to express how I felt after hearing Kelly speak and how inspiring she is as a speaker because I am not sure that 2-3 sentences can fully convey how impactful she is, but here is my best effort. Kelly’s unique approach to sharing her message makes her an incredible presenter. Her message of empowerment is so elegantly shared through poetry and song. Her ability to share and encourage the audience to participate made our event a huge success. Thank you, Kelly, for being so amazing and inspiring.
-Lisa Feiman, The Body Shop, after International Women’s Day event (2019)
Kelly was amazing! She was passionate, personable, and professional. Not only were her stories and poems empowering, but her activities got everyone moving and she did a great job at keeping everyone engaged. Kelly was able to read the crowd and shape her talk to best fit the group, making this an extremely intimate experience. As for Kelly's professionalism: she arrived early, was extremely kind and well-spoken, and worked well with the coordinators of the event. Overall, Kelly was a joy to have speak at our Take Back the Night event and I would recommend her to anyone.
-Brittney Vargas, Take Back the Night President, after Manhattan College Performance Keynote (2018)
A hit of the Taipei Poetry Festival! Kelly brought us a wonderful evening with her poetic wit and infectious power!
-Hung Hung, Curator, after Taipei Poetry Festival 2-Week Residency: Opening Performance, Artist Life / Work Seminar, & 2 Sold-Out Performances of "Formosa" Solo Show (2017)
Kelly was amazing!! I thought I didn’t enjoy or couldn’t relate to poetry, but I was wrong. Her poems were heartfelt, entertaining and I loved how much I could identify with what she is saying - she was so relatable. Her performances shared so much and it was eye-opening for me. Thanks for coming to Wellesley!
-Sydney Chen, Wellesley College Class of 2019, after Wellesley College Performance Keynote & Workshop (2017)
Strong. Intersectional. Vulnerable. Alive. Kelly Tsai's voice is essential to our contemporary American moment. With her powerful stage presence and willingness to share her personal experiences, Kelly's keynote address blew the attendees of our conference away. Why bring a speaker that reads a speech and/or shows a PowerPoint when you can bring an artist who embodies her message in a theatrical and dynamic way that engages all participants on a deeply personal level? Kelly was the highlight of our graduate conference.
-Bridget Sundin, after Indiana University Graduate Symposium for Theatre & Performance Studies Performance Keynote & Workshop (2017)
[Kelly's] speech was perfect! Students, faculty and staff were so pleased to have [her] join us for such a remarkable day.
-Victoria Romero, after CUNY Guttman College Women of GRIT Conference Performance Keynote (2017)
Kelly Tsai was awesome. So inspirational and relatable.
-Erin Partlan, after Clemson University Leads Conference Performance Keynote (2017)
In the wake of the election, our campus was feeling very powerless and scared. We are so appreciative that Kelly was able to adjust her programming and bring with her a message of hope and empowerment. Her personable and approachable attitude were much appreciated at a time such as this.
-Robyn Lin, after Vassar College Performance (2016)
It was a great performance! The audience was actively engaged, snapping, cheering, and clapping.
- Sarah Sambar, after Claremont McKenna College Athenaeum Speaker Series Performance Keynote (2016)
Kelly’s performance was the perfect, inspirational tone to get our folks energized and ready for the Summit we had in store. We couldn't thank her enough!
-Ghazal Ramanpanah, after We Won’t Wait 2016 Summit for over 1200 community organizers from across the country Performance (2016)
Speaking to nearly 900 young women at NCCWSL – National Conference of College Women Student Leaders - Kelly Tsai had them on their feet and cheering within 30 seconds! AAUW honored Kelly as one of their 2016 Women of Distinction: she inspired the students with her words and especially with the poem she wrote for the event. It was exciting – as a long-time AAUW member – to see these young women so enthused!
-Claudia S. Gray, American Association of University Women, after National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) Women of Distinction Ceremony Performance (2016)
Kelly was such a powerhouse on stage. The ballroom of nearly 900 attendees erupted, and Tsai’s performance prompted conversations about otherness, activism and social justice. Tsai made a huge presence, igniting the room with energy, and captivating the audience from beginning to end.
-Bethany Modi, American Association of University Women, after National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) Women of Distinction Ceremony Performance (2016)
The amazing Kelly Tsai. I have only heard about her but never experienced her energy and how she can capture an audience until the night our Gala. This year was a tough year for many non-profit organizations in terms of meeting their fundraising goals. We were down almost 30% in comparison to last year’s goal and we knew the live auction could potentially be a deal breaker to make our Gala whole. Our annual Gala is a very important fundraising event as it provides for 30% of the operating cost for our Center. She brought energy to the room of people she had never met before. There was a heart and soul connection that I witnessed happening when she was on stage. Not only was she able to connect with them and the Center, she helped us far exceed our financial expectation on LIVE Auction. To boot, she was incredibly professional and collaborated with the Gala team to ensure she understood the items being auctioned off as well as well as our financial goals. It was truly a pleasure to be working with Kelly, an incredible artist that has a huge impact to any audience brought to her.
-Julie Chi, Gala Chair, Korean American Family Service Center, after Gala (2016)
Kelly is an engaging speaker who shares generously of herself in order to invite students to reflect, create and share themselves. She is dynamic in a large group presentation and in a smaller group workshop setting, inspiring all community members!
-Emily Schorr Lesnick, Upper School Director of Service Learning, Riverdale after Performance Keynote and Workshop (2016)
We absolutely loved having Kelly – as did the many many people who made sure to tell me how amazing she was. Thank you again for both your performances and being so easy to work with throughout the very stressful event planning process. I hope we can do more together in the future!
-Michael Corrente, Director of Institutional Partnerships, Ms. Foundation after Gloria Awards Gala Event & After-Party (2015)
We hosted Kelly for an interactive writing workshop and a spoken word performance about healthy relationships. She was so friendly and easy to work with. Her performances were humorous, touching and real. She speaks to intersecting identities and a variety of relationships. She also was very gracious in spending time with students after performances.
- Adriane Bang, Associate Director, Boise State University Women’s Center after workshop and performance re: healthy relationships (2014)
“There are many poets that host workshops about Spoken Word, poets that aim to teach or provide skills for this craft but Kelly reminds us that poetry doesn't exist just on the page or on the mic. What she reminds us is that poetry is of the body, it is a moving thing...it is our trying to translate movement to others.”
-Yolandi Cruz, President & Co-Founder of SpitFire, student spoken word poetry organization, after Smith College Performance Keynote and Workshop (2014)
Kelly's performance really opened up people's eyes to how art (poetry, short films, etc.) can be a medium for activism and acts of social good. It was inspiring to see someone so passionate about so many different topics, and expressing this passion with an emphasis on love. Overall, this was a great experience for everyone who came, as it helped us all understand that activism and acts of social good start at the individual level.
-Casey Mendoza, Women of Influence, after Knox College Performance (2014)
“Kelly’s keynote address was fantastic in setting the tone for the conference, inciting participants to speak up, and let their voices be heard. We heard great feedback about her workshop. Through her spoken word and different forms of performing arts and media, Kelly encourages people to make their identities and beliefs matter.”
- Jenney Szeto, Conference Director, after AAWIL Conference / ASPIRE Boston Performance Keynote and Workshop (2014)
We are so grateful to have selected Kelly Tsai as our Keynote Speaker for the 2014 Domestic Violence Awareness Month programming at the University of Illinois sponsored by the Women’s Resources Center. Kelly was extremely thoughtful, interactive, and energetic in her presentations, workshops, and performance for our students. Her artistry in both her poetry and her ability to engage with students was remarkable. Don’t miss out on a chance to collaborate with her!
-Rachel Lauren Storm, Assistant Director, Women’s Resource Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after half-week residency which included Performance Keynote, Workshops, and Seminar (2014)
We just finished the conference and Kelly was completely mind-blowing!!! The students really responded to her message of identity intersectionality. She spoke of the importance of being present and of using one’s voice---“I am HERE!” To the naysayers who claim that a person’s identity “doesn’t make sense”, our response should be “GOOD!!!” (with all kinds of attitude). Her beautifully nuanced poems were as paint on canvas, rendering colorful ideas and truths with each brush stroke. Kelly didn’t simply lecture or perform, she gave of herself and shared her story. We are truly honored to have had hosted her today for the Baltimore Student Diversity Leadership Conference.
- Kaliq Simms, Diversity Director, Roland Park Country School, Baltimore MD, after Baltimore Students Diversity Conference Performance Keynote (2013)
Amazing. Absolutely amazing! Kelly was awesome to have here and we all are singing her praises.
-Sarah Carter, Associate Director of Resource Services, Intercultural Affairs, Western Carolina University after Take Back the Night Performance Keynote (2013)