Kelly J. Gordon is the name! Most call me Captain Kelly, though! My story is unique, maybe a little bizarre, and even more so inspiring and motivating. Growing up in a small farm town in middle America taught me lessons I still carry with me today. Indiana is my home, it always will be. In my twenties, I had to get out of Indiana, so I did. Landing in North Carolina as a chemistry Professor took my life on a path that I didn’t even know was possible. After attending a party on a yacht, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I did not party or hang out with my friends. Where was I you may ask? I was hanging out with the Captain. Soaking in as much information as I could, I told the Captain, “I think I can drive one of these things.” The rest is history. I showed up to his vessel daily for the next three-plus years. It was that experience along with my personality traits from growing up in the Midwest that got me to where I am today.
So, where am I today you ask? I hold my Master 500 GT License and am close to securing my Master 3000 GT License. I work full time on a heavily charter 106ft Sanlorenzo Yacht with six crew members. In my passion for teaching, I created a series titled, “The Captain’s Classroom” in which I create educational content for the yachting industry. Sharing my story in publications like Forbes, Business Insider, Boat International and so many more has not only propelled me to a position of true and authentic leadership, but has also helped inspire others to chase their goals and dreams. At the end of the day, I am a woman who cares deeply about others, who works hard to achieve her goals, and who is always looking for ways to improve and better myself.
When I sit back and think of my role in the yachting industry my first thought goes, “well, I am a Captain.” But, truly, I am so much more than just a Captain. As a Yacht Captain with a Master 500 GT License, I am a motivator. As a Yacht Captain with a Master 500 GT License, I am a listener. As a Yacht Captain with a Master 500 GT License, I am an educator. As a Yacht Captain with a Master 500 GT License, I am a leader. From being who I need to be for my crew daily to having the experience and knowledge to serve the owner and our charter guests along with continually advancing myself, my role in this industry is to be the educationally inspirational leader that we all can benefit from in our industry. My role is to shed new light on what this industry is and what it ultimately can be.
Bettering myself and others around me is who I am. I have a little saying, “1% better each day.” If I or the people around me are striving to be better than the day before, then we are doing our jobs as crew and as humans. It’s motivating to be a person that is constantly improving, and it’s earth-shattering when you have a like-minded group around you doing the same. My motivation to join the 2023 Crew Awards judging panel is to find those motivating and inspirational leaders like myself along with giving them the recognition they so dearly deserve. It’s an honor to be in the position I am in now. To ‘judge’ others with these traits and passions humbles me to my beginning in North Carolina. We all have to start somewhere.