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In this episode of Fluent in Floridian, Orlando City Soccer Club Founder Kay Rawlins joins SalterMitchell PR President Heidi Otway to discuss her remarkable journey to becoming a prominent female figure in the male-dominated sports world of soccer. From banking in the U.K. to owning two preschools to founding a soccer club in the U.S., Kay is a natural-born changemaker and leader. Tune in as she discusses the most exciting moments of her career and how the club became a beloved part of Orlando’s culture and community.
Chris Cate: Welcome to the Fluent in Floridian podcast, featuring the Sunshine State’s brightest leaders talking about the issues most important to the people of Florida and its millions of weekly visitors. In this episode, created by SalterMitchell PR, our executive producer, Heidi Otway, the president of SalterMitchell PR, talks to Kay Rawlins, a founder and owner of Orlando City Soccer Club, who also serves as a senior VP of community relations and as the club’s foundation president.
Heidi Otway: So, Kay, thank you so much for being a guest on this Fluent in Floridian podcast. We’re so thrilled to have you.
Kay Rawlins: Thank you for inviting me.
Heidi Otway: So, tell us a little bit about your early years. You’ve been a Floridian for a little over a decade, and I just want to hear, how did you get started? What was it like growing up in the UK?
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. So, I’m one of five children, all very close in age, so my brothers and sisters were only a school year difference to me. I’m number two in the pecking order, so, but the first, the oldest girl, so I’m the one who had all the battles with the parents over what time to come in and when you could wear makeup and all those kind of things that you go through as a teenager. But at school, I mean, I was a good scholar, but I loved sports, and I played pretty much every sport that I could, and I represented my school in a lot of those sports as well. What’s kind of funny is, soccer was not one of them.
Heidi Otway: Really?
Kay Rawlins: I know. So, back in those days, girls just didn’t play soccer. I played field hockey. I ran for the school. I swam for the school. I played tennis for the school, but the only time I ever played soccer was with my brothers. It just wasn’t a thing growing up. Girls didn’t do that.
Heidi Otway: That’s interesting.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. Yes. And obviously, it’s been wonderful to see the changes in England. A lot of the big premier league teams in England now have women’s teams, and they put money and support behind that. And I think England doing pretty well in the last Women’s World Cup really got the country behind them, so it’s been actually interesting to see how my home country has changed over this last decade, for sure.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. So, you grew up in the UK, and then you made your way over to the U.S. Tell us about that part of your journey.
Kay Rawlins: Sure. Actually, this is my third career, so I was always the rebel child, and-
Heidi Otway: Is that because you were the second oldest?
Kay Rawlins: I don’t know what it was. There was always some restlessness, I think, in me that I didn’t necessarily see in my siblings. So, I didn’t want to go to college, so I left school at 17. I went to work for one of the big banks in England. It’s a little different, again, than here. There’s hundreds of banks here. There’s just not that same number there. I had 10 amazing, happy, fun years there. Got married, had two kids, and was lucky enough to stay home. And I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but, for me, I loved it. I loved being home, and that’s where my second career took off because I answered an ad when my youngest was three years old to go and work one morning a week in a preschool. I absolutely loved it, found I had a talent for it, and then one morning turned into two, turned into three days, turned into the owner of the preschool offering to-
Heidi Otway: Wow.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. She was looking to retire. She wanted someone who felt as passionately as she did about preschool education to take over. So, she paid for me to go to college. So, age 31, I finally packed my little satchel and went off to college.
Heidi Otway: With two little kids? Or were the kids older then?
Kay Rawlins: Yeah, they were three and four at the time. So, yeah, there’s so many different ways of doing college now, and you could combine in-place modules. So, I was in the preschool and able to be doing the course I was doing, the childhood education course, and I did a management degree pretty much at the same time, and long story short, ended up owning the preschool with a partner, and we very quickly opened a second one. We had a lot of working parents who needed a different kind of preschool, so we ended up opening one that would take babies and that would open later. And it’s still open to this day, and some of the staff that I hired are actually still there, which is amazing to me.
Heidi Otway: That is amazing. Well, you and the previous founder set an amazing foundation.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. So, 20 years later, and there are still some of the same people there, which is incredible. And then, this really is a long story, so I am going to cut this short, but an old high school boyfriend of mine came back into my life around 2002, 2003. He was living over here in America, although he was obviously from the same hometown as me, and we had a whirlwind romance, had to figure out what was going to happen next. And so, that was when we made the move to, actually to Austin originally in 2004. And that was, we both sold our business. We were, “What are we going to do?” We wanted to do something together. We were trying to figure out what that was going to look like. And it coincided with our hometown soccer team in Stoke-on-Trent. It’s called Stoke City. He was on their board. He was a minority owner there, and they were looking for an affiliate in America. So, that’s really what set us off down the soccer path of, well, what does the soccer landscape look like in America?
Heidi Otway: What did it look like at that time when you were in Austin?
Kay Rawlins: So, Major League Soccer was definitely on the rise, certainly not where it is today, but it moving in the right direction, and we started looking into it. And then, we looked into the lower leagues as well, which is United Soccer Leagues, which is actually based in Tampa, so not too far away. That’s where their headquarters are. And we couldn’t find what we thought that our team was looking for. So, we just said, “Why don’t we start a team?” So, I know it sounds really flip to say it like that.
Heidi Otway: But why not? Why not?
Kay Rawlins: But why not? Exactly. We’d both got business experience. We were both sports crazy. He’d obviously had experience of working with our hometown team.
Heidi Otway: And you also said that you were a little bit of a rebel.
Kay Rawlins: And a risk taker. I think sometimes that’s what it takes, just really thinking what … And I suppose a lot of it was, well, what’s the worst thing that could happen? If you can deal with the downside, then go for it. So, we sat down with a piece of paper, and we did a little bit of strategy thinking. And we decided that, at that point, Major League Soccer was just too high of a leap, so we went to United Soccer Leagues. We went to their annual conference. We met with hundreds of people, it felt like. And next thing you know, we decided, yep, we’re going to have a team. So, we started it in Austin. Let’s just say the due diligence wasn’t as diligent as it should have been. So, we saw thousands of youth playing soccer. I think we thought that would translate into people coming to a game. But I think a lot of factors really … We were playing in high school, a high school stadium, so you had all the lines on the field, all the other lines as well. You couldn’t sell alcohol.
Heidi Otway: Well, there you go.
Kay Rawlins: Exactly. Exactly. So, there was a lot of factors, I guess, that led to us just not being successful. And you can only do that, sustain that, for a few years before you start thinking, “Well, this is going nowhere. We’re losing money. What are we going to do?”
Heidi Otway: Do you think the fans just didn’t embrace soccer? I know I made a quip about the alcohol, but was it the fans just didn’t get soccer in Texas?
Kay Rawlins: I think it’s a lot of factors, and when I tell you what happened when we moved here, you’ll see what some of them are. But, in Austin, you are fighting the behemoth that is University of Texas. So, you have this 110,000 seat stadium that they can fill at the drop of a hat, and that’s where everyone’s energies were going. And so, they didn’t have time for this little old soccer team. So, yeah, it was a really tough decision to leave because we obviously did have fans, and it’s always hard to let them down, but we just couldn’t sustain it anymore. So, we’d gone back to United Soccer Leagues, and they said, “Well, we think there’s a really good opportunity in Orlando.” They’d already announced a team, and whoever the guy was that was backing it got into some financial difficulties and had pulled away. So, we flew into Orlando, and we met with some people. We went to Winter Park, which, if you’ve ever been-
Heidi Otway: Beautiful.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. And to me, that was like, “Oh my gosh.”
Heidi Otway: Yeah. I was going to say, “Well, what were your initial thoughts about Orlando when you got there and realizing it’s not about the mouse?”
Kay Rawlins: Right. And I think that’s, especially coming from England, that’s really all British people seem to know about Orlando. I mean, I hope everyone, especially people who know me, are a little better educated about Orlando now, but that was definitely in the back of my mind. And then, you come, and you realize that obviously the parks have brought such great everything to Florida. It’s not Orlando. It’s not even in Orlando, so …
Heidi Otway: Right. Exactly. Right. Right.
Kay Rawlins: So, Winter Park was just a beautiful revelation, and to me, it’s always like, can you imagine yourself living here? So, that was a big factor, but I think the other piece was the support we had from everybody. And I wonder if some of it is because it is a transplant, or it used to be, a transplant city. And so, you meet people who are from everywhere. And I feel like people want to pay it forward, that they were welcomed when they arrived, so, then, when someone new comes, they want to do the same. So, everyone just, it felt like this great big warm hug. It was just amazing.
Kay Rawlins: And then, Mayor Dyer, who has since become a good friend, had this vision for what he wanted for Orlando, and it was his sports and entertainment corridor. And if you look now, he’s done it. So, we have the beautiful Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, which is just fabulous. We have the amazing Amway Center that wins awards and everything else. We now have our beautiful purple soccer stadium and then the Camping World Stadium, which is actually undergoing another little facelift. So, he helped us in so many ways, introducing us to people, opening doors.
Kay Rawlins: And then, I’ll never also underestimate the value of Orlando Health. So, they came in as the first ever jersey sponsor. This was when we were still a minor league team, and took a chance on us, and they’re still our partners today. And I think that opened doors as well. No one wants to be first at the party, and they were. And then, other people were like, “Oh, okay. Maybe we should take a look at this soccer thing. What’s going on?”
Kay Rawlins: But I think the other piece as well, and I’m a big believer in speaking things out into the universe. So, at that very first press conference, we said, “We’re bringing a team. We’re going to be called Orlando City, but, and we’re minor league right now, but we are going to be major league within the next five years.” And we did. We did it, but, I think, saying it out loud, it’s like writing a goal down that everyone else can see makes you accountable. And we worked really, really hard, obviously, over those next few years. Yeah, we got it done.
Heidi Otway: So, how did you all come up with the name Orlando City?
Kay Rawlins: A lot of that was talking to people who live here, who wanted an identity for the city, for it to be Orlando. And, like I say, we know we owe a debt of gratitude to all the theme parks, but I think Orlando people were a little bit fed up, saying, “We’re not just Disney. We’re not just Disney. We are all these other things as well.” And we are. So, that was it, and then we chose a lion for the logo because, back in the ’80s and ’90s, there was a team here called the Orlando Lions, and they played the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the-
Heidi Otway: I remember those teams.
Kay Rawlins: Right? Yeah.
Heidi Otway: Yes, I do.
Kay Rawlins: Right. So, having the lion as the logo was a nod to the history of soccer that had gone on before, and we actually know there’s a bunch of those ex-players living and working here, in and around Orlando and Florida, who have now moved on to be business people. But that was a nod to the history that there was soccer here before in Orlando.
Heidi Otway: So, Kay, let’s shift gears to, about your role as a woman in a male-dominated sports, and tell us about your experience in the role that you have. And are there other women in similar roles as yourself?
Kay Rawlins: Right. Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I think it’s one that a lot of the, or most of the sports leagues have tried to address and started to address in a much more measured way. There’s actually a report card that goes out every year from UCF. It’s called … It’s TIDES. And I’ll have to look up what that stands for, but it’s basically, does a scorecard on NFL, NHL, MLS, NBA on your race and gender hiring practices. It’s really great because it gives you something to look at and for your HR department to look at and see how we’re measuring up against other teams and against the league office and against other leagues, if we need to. We’re certainly still in the minority, especially in the management positions. I think they’re trying to change it. It never goes fast enough for me, of course.
Kay Rawlins: And yeah, and for a lot of the time, I was very often the only woman in the leadership meetings. But I think, for me, because, I mean, at the time, I was obviously an owner of the team as well. I was a founder of the team. I knew everyone else’s roles because, in the beginning, you do everything, I mean, even to the point, when we were in Austin, of washing the kit. So, I’ve kind of been in everybody’s shoes at some point, so I at least have an understanding of the roles. And so, I think, because I was a founder, there was respect there that maybe some other women don’t get, but I think you learn a bunch of tricks along the way.
Kay Rawlins: And Linda Landman Gonzalez at the Magic is a really dear friend of mine, and we collaborate on things. We chat to each other all the time about, “Who’s asked you for what? And what do you think about this situation?” And she was really, really helpful to me, even with just small things like, when you want to present something in a meeting, keep it short, be concise, just small things. If you’ve got some big idea you want to float, then go around to some of your colleagues before the meeting and just roll it out a little bit to them, so that when you start speaking, they’re nodding and everybody’s like, “Oh, okay. This sounds like it’s … that I should listen to.”
Kay Rawlins: And I think, for me, those are things that I love being able to pass on. I’m in all kinds of different mentorship roles. We now have a chapter of WISE, which is Women in Sports and Events, here in greater Orlando, and it isn’t just the sports teams. It’s women in other jobs, but who have to do events as part of their job, and it’s a really great group who support each other and cheer each other on and act as mentors to each other, but you also have this wider network because it’s a national organization. So, you can chat to people in other cities and get advice from them as well. So, yeah, I think, for any woman in sports, there are still challenges. However, I do think it’s gotten loads better than, certainly than it was when I first started.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. Yeah. It’s refreshing for me, going to professional sports games and seeing more women on the sidelines, seeing women actually being referees now. And we’re seeing a lot of women breaking through glass ceilings within the sports industry. And we can certainly say that you broke through a glass ceiling in the soccer industry, so kudos.
Kay Rawlins: Thank you.
Heidi Otway: So, what has been one of the highest points in your career since you’ve moved into Orlando? What is that one thing, when you think about it, you’re just like, “Wow, we did that.”?
Kay Rawlins: The very first game in Major League Soccer. So, I actually have a big poster on my wall, signed by all the players. It was March the 8th, 2015, and we obviously we knew this was going to be a special game. It’s the first one. The year before, we finished out our United Soccer Leagues tenancy, if you like. We couldn’t be in the Citrus Bowl, which was where we were before, so we were playing out at Disney at the Wide World of Sports. So, we were getting crowds of around 5,000 because that was all you could get. There wasn’t room for anyone else, and it was a trek all the way out to the Wide World of Sports.
Kay Rawlins: But we knew this first game was going to be special, and our ticket people had this crazy idea of fill the bowl. So, we had a hashtag, which was, I guess, when hashtags were really just first coming into their own. So, we had #FillTheBowl, and we thought, well, if we can get 30,000, that’s going to be amazing. That’ll be such a cool thing. We’ll fill the bottom bowl, and everything will be amazing. Anyway, as the months go on … or not … the weeks, I guess, go on, we’ve crashed through 30,000. We’ve gone through 40,000. We’ve gone through 50,000. So, we’re literally like, “Oh my gosh, we are going to do it. We’re going to do it.” And we’re a week to go, we’d sold out. We sold out the Citrus Bowl, 62,510 people.
Kay Rawlins: And so, that day, it’s kind of a blur in some ways. We had a house full of people. We’ve got relations, who’d come over from England, friends who’d come in from Austin. It was absolute madness. And the local newspaper, Orlando Sentinel, came and spent the whole day with us. They came for breakfast. They followed us to the game. They followed us around the tailgate, chatting to the supporters, and then, obviously, for the game itself. But I think, just standing on the center circle that day and just looking around and seeing all these purple-clad people and just thinking, “Wow, we did it, the dream. This was the dream, and here it is.” So, it was just an incredible, incredible day, and Kaká scored. So, almost like the dream goal, it was a tie in the end, but the fans went home as though we’d won. I mean, everyone just had a great time. It was incredible.
Kay Rawlins: And I think the second one would be opening the new stadium, which is where I’m sitting right now, opening that dream as well. We helped design the stadium. Supporters helped design the stadium, and to have that, our own place, was really, really special.
Heidi Otway: How long was that process to actually get your own stadium? And I say that because I’ve been reading all the news about David Beckham down in South Florida, trying to get their own stadium. I’m sure he’s probably calling you, right, for advice?
Kay Rawlins: I mean, they’ve really had a struggle. And again, I think this speaks to Orlando and how they looked after us and how everyone came together to say, “How do we get this done?” And again, Mayor Dyer and his amazing team were really instrumental in finding us a spot. And we knew. And actually, Major League Soccer had been quite vociferous on, of having a downtown stadium, which, imagine having it out on I-Drive somewhere. It would be a nightmare on a Saturday.
Heidi Otway: From traffic.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah, and having it in the downtown means people can get to it by bus, by bike. You can park downtown and walk. Everyone’s got the scooters and the Lime bikes and all of those kinds of things. There’s thousands of them outside our stadium on a game day, which is great to see. But, I guess, from saying we were going to do it and then opening it was two years. So, we played the 2015 and 2016 season at Camping World. And then we moved, lock, stock, and barrel to the stadium and still on Church Street, but a little further towards downtown in 2017. So, yeah, I mean, I guess the stadium’s not terrifically complicated. I say that. I don’t know. I had my hard hat on a few times, and we would be allowed to come and see the progress. But, yeah, I mean, obviously we love being here. We love it being ours. And I think you probably know we have new owners now, but the previous owner got so tired of waiting for any money from Tallahassee that he just said, “We’re just going to do this ourselves.” So, it’s a privately built stadium, which makes us very unusual.
Heidi Otway: Exactly. Yes.
Kay Rawlins: Very unusual. But, again, it was having the really great relationships that we built with the city and the county that helped get it done. And I think this is where Beckham and his group are just having a struggle. I think the politics are just a little more complicated in Miami than they are here. So, yeah, we’re very happy. We love all of our purple home.
Chris Cate: The Fluent in Floridian podcast is brought to you by SalterMitchell PR, a communications consultancy focused on helping good causes win. We provide strategic insight and guidance to organizations seeking to make an impact in the nation’s third most populous state. Learn more at smprflorida.com. Now, back to Heidi’s interview with Kay Rawlins.
Heidi Otway: Why do you think the people in Orlando and central Florida embraced this team and what you’re doing?
Kay Rawlins: Yeah, I think, again, and because so many people here come from a different culture and a different background, including me … Soccer is played in every country in the world, I mean, literally every country in the world. And it just felt like people here were just waiting for us. And you can still have your team back in England or Argentina or Brazil or wherever it is. That’s still your team. I mean, Stoke is still my team. But embrace your hometown team, and that’s what happened. And I think a lot of that was us allowing the supporters, the fans, to build their own traditions and cultures and things that they do before a game, during a game, and after a game. We were always there to support, but the idea was that this was a blank slate. Go for it. What do you want to do?
Kay Rawlins: And one of the things I really love is, if you look up into the stands at a city game, the fans by a flag that represents all of our players. So, whatever country you are from, you can look into the stands, and you can see Brazil, Uruguay, England. Wherever you’re from, your flag is up there, and I think that’s such a welcoming thing that our supporters do to make our players feel at home. But I do think it’s, everyone in the world plays soccer. And so, and our attitude was always, just come try. Just come see. Just come to one game, and you will realize what a great experience it is, what talented players we have, and you’ll want to come back. And that’s basically what happened.
Heidi Otway: I think I’m going to take you up on that offer because I have yet to come to a game, and I come to Orlando pretty frequently. So, I’m going to put that on my to-do list, definitely.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. And then, the other exciting thing we did in 2016 was added a women’s team, so they’re obviously NWSL. It’s now, I think this is the 10th season. So, we’re coming into a nice … Obviously, any new league is, it’s rocky at first, and you’re finding your feet, and you’re trying to find sponsors, and you want to keep it going. And we’ve seemed to have reached a better place. We’re adding two new teams this season.
Heidi Otway: Good.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. So, I would love you to come to a women’s game too. It’s lots of fun. We have great talent on the field. So, yeah, whichever game you want to come to.
Heidi Otway: Oh, I’ll do both. I’ll do both. I’m just so excited about hearing the story about how you created this team, and it’s just grown into something that people have embraced and loved. And they feel a sense of ownership because you let them into the process of, what do you want this team to be?
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. And I actually, a few years ago now, I did a TEDx talk at, actually at Dr. Phillips, which was amazing, and it was about building. How do you build fans? How do you start from zero and build fans? And a lot of that was allowing them in, if you like. So, here’s an example. The commissioner for Major League Soccer came to visit early in, I think it was 2013, so we’d been going two years by then. And we said to him, “We want to be major league. We think we’ve got all the ingredients. You need to come see.” So, we talked to the supporters, and we said, “What would you say to him? If you could talk to the commissioner, what would you say?” So, then we picked him up at the airport to bring him to a pub in downtown Orlando. And we took him on this very circuitous journey, passed all these billboards, and every billboard had a message for him-
Heidi Otway: I love that.
Kay Rawlins: … that said, “Hey, Don, the city beautiful needs the beautiful game. Hey Don, the next MLS franchise belongs in Orlando.” People had written … So, every billboard-
Heidi Otway: Oh, that is brilliant.
Kay Rawlins: Isn’t that so good? And by the way, that was a woman. Her name’s Teresa Tatlonghari, and she was our head of marketing and just had these incredible ideas. She really was a out of the box thinker. She had a lot of young staff around her that … And she encouraged this great atmosphere of, “No idea’s too crazy. Bring me your ideas. We’re going to make some of these things happen.” We did gorilla marketing where we had a little truck with a gobo on it that we would shine our logo up onto buildings. I mean, seriously, we did a lot of really fun things. And then, when we did get the go-ahead for the franchise, the commissioner came back to town. We had the governor, and we had a party at the Cheyenne Saloon, but, originally, Major League Soccer had wanted us to make this announcement, like a lunchtime with some dignitaries and-
Heidi Otway: That’s so boring.
Kay Rawlins: No. Exactly. And we’re like-
Heidi Otway: This is Orlando!
Kay Rawlins: I know. Come on. It was the supporters who had gotten us to that place, so they just have to be there. So, we crammed as many as we were allowed by the fire chief into the Cheyenne Saloon. We had balloons drop down from the ceiling, but there was a party going on outside in the street. We shut the street down, and the people who couldn’t get in were outside partying instead.
Kay Rawlins: And then, another example was the groundbreaking for the stadium. And again, it was, shall we do it on a lunch, and we’ll have the mayor and the commissioners? And nope. We had it in the evening. We closed Church Street down, and we marched from downtown with drums and flags and flares, with the players, with the coaches and all the supporters, the mayor, the commissioners. And we marched all the way down Church Street to the site, obviously, where I am today.
Kay Rawlins: And we had the local high school. Jones High School band were there. Loads and loads of people obviously showed up. And again, Teresa had 25 tons of purple sand flown in. And so, it was in these kind of like a big tubs, and everyone got this little glass jar with our logo on, and you could go take a scoop of the sand. And so, you had a memento, and it’s really funny because I go and I see. I go and meet with people in their offices, and especially obviously the commissioner. Everyone’s still got their-
Heidi Otway: I love that.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. So, and that was the supporters being included in something that they had helped bring about. And I think that’s where you start building that loyalty, and like you said, this is my team, and I think it’s so important to a fan base.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. Kay, you’ve done so many amazing things in your career. What do you do when you’re not working? What is your Kay day like when it’s a day for you?
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. I mean, my favorite is brunch with my bunch. We literally have a group, a text group called brunch bunch. So, they’re some of my besties, and so a lazy Sunday of going out and having brunch somewhere beautiful and just chatting and having a lovely time together. I love to read. That’s like a little mini holiday for me. I have a-
Heidi Otway: What are you reading now?
Kay Rawlins: I’m actually, I’m always in the middle of a bunch of books. I’m actually reading one called Tiny Habits, and I love it. I read a mixture. I’ve usually got a non-fiction on the go and a fiction. And this is, see, my non-fiction. And it’s this guy who really talks you through why people make all these promises to themselves. I’m going to do this, and I’m going to lose weight, and I’m going to run every day, and then, why you fail. It’s about building habits, but incrementally, tiny, tiny little steps, and showing all of these factors that will stop you and recognizing that. So, how do you take some of those things away so that you can be successful? It’s a really good little book.
Heidi Otway: Okay. Well, I’m going to have to download it on my Kindle when I get home.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. Yeah, I’m a big Kindle lover because my family are obviously all still over in the UK.
Heidi Otway: Your daughters as well, your kids?
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. Yeah, I have two girls and two boys.
Heidi Otway: Oh, you have four kids. Okay.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. So, I call them my bonus kids. So, they’re actually my ex-husband’s kids, but my kids and they all, they call each other brother and sister still.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. Right. Right.
Kay Rawlins: [00:38:06] been together a long time. And so, the two girls, they’re only six months apart in age. And they now are both … One daughter had been living in Asia for six years, but had a baby, and so came back to England, and they actually both live in London. And they’re about 20 minutes apart by train. One daughter has a little girl, and the other one has a boy and a girl, so they see a lot of each other. And obviously for me, I go home as often as I can to see my grand-babies. And so, for me, traveling, I need them on my Kindle because I don’t want to be schlepping five or six books when I can just download them on my Kindle. But yeah, I love to read.
Heidi Otway: I love hearing that. And then, you’re also very involved in philanthropy and the foundations in the Orlando and the central Florida area. Tell us about one of the things that you love doing when it comes to giving back to the community through those foundations.
Kay Rawlins: Yeah. I’m involved in quite a few.
Heidi Otway: I saw the list.
Kay Rawlins: But they’re all ones that are close to my heart, for one reason or another. Obviously, the Orlando City Foundation is close to me because that’s something else I started. It’s about health and wellness for kids. It’s about giving kids in underserved areas. It’s not that we were trying to make the next Lionel Messi or Marta. It’s all the things that you give to children through playing a sport, the teamwork, the respect, the camaraderie, the conflict resolution, how to be a good winner and a good loser, this … And then, on top of that, we started building the gardens, community gardens, because we realized we’re teaching kids, please eat these great fruit and vegetables, and then realizing the access wasn’t necessarily there for them.
Kay Rawlins: I’m on the Central Florida Foundation, which I love because that’s all about big picture. It’s about looking at what issues are affecting central Florida. And then, who do we need to get around the table to talk about it, to tackle these kinds of problems? So, I’ve loved, loved, loved being on that board. I love all the boards I’m on, like I say, for very different reasons. I’m on a children’s cancer, a board, Cannonball Kids’ Cancer because my friend started that organization when her little boy was going through cancer treatment. He’s our little headliner, but that’s all about fighting for a cure. It’s not just about how do you help families get through this terrible ordeal? It’s how don’t we have more and better treatments for kids? So, yeah, so I love paying it forward. I’m in a great place in my life, and so I want to be able to help as many other people as I can.
Heidi Otway: So, you’ve been in Orlando for a number of years. Do you see yourself being in Orlando-
Kay Rawlins: Yeah.
Heidi Otway: … in the … Yeah.
Kay Rawlins: This is home. This is home. It’s where all my friends are. Obviously, there’s always that pull back to the UK for family. You know that I have a lot of family there, including my parents are still around. So, there’s always that pull, but it’s such an easy flight. It’s a one-stop shop. You get on the flight at night, and the morning, there you are. You’re there. So, no, I love the weather here. I love the lifestyle. I love the people. So, no, this is home.
Heidi Otway: I’m glad to hear that. And I’m just so glad for all the things that you’ve done to make Orlando and central Florida and the state of Florida just is a better place to live, work, and play. And I wanted to transition and wrap up our conversation with asking you some questions that we always ask our guests. And the first thing is, who is a Florida leader that you admire? It can be someone from any different industry or field, from the past or someone who is still active in their work.
Kay Rawlins: Oh gosh, there’s so many I admire here, but I would throw out two really great women leaders here. One is Val Demings, and one is Anna Eskamani, and obviously both political, I guess, but getting things done in just a really great way, both great advocates. Both fight for equity and justice. So, I think those. I really admire those two, and Anna in particular, who is just a workaholic who never stops, who helped so many people through the pandemic. I just admire her tenacity and her ebullience because it’s hard work in Tallahassee, and not that she shows it anyway. She doesn’t let it get her down, and she bounces back, and she influences people around her. So, those two are definitely up there for me.
Heidi Otway: We actually had Anna on our Fluent in Floridian podcast and was one of our most popular ones. So, now we’ve got to get Val. We’re working on it, got to get her to be on the show.
Kay Rawlins: You should, for sure.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. So, what is a person, place, or thing in Florida that deserves more attention than it’s currently getting?
Kay Rawlins: So, I’m going to say Orlando Pride, our women’s team. There’s not many NWSL teams in the whole country, and I would love people to start coming and getting behind the women. They deserve it, and please come out and support them.
Heidi Otway: Okay, definitely. Are they the only professional women’s soccer team in Florida?
Kay Rawlins: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. So, what is your favorite Florida location to visit?
Kay Rawlins: Ooh. Again, I have two, but if I can only choose one, I would say it’s in Augustine. I love the vibe, the history, all the little shops, and it’s just a really … They do an amazing wine walk that you can go on that is just so cool. But I also love Sarasota, again, yeah, just a really cute, cool beach town. You’ve obviously got the beaches so close by as well, but, yeah, those are my two favorite places.
Heidi Otway: Awesome. And I know I already know the answer to the last question. Who’s your favorite Florida sports team?
Kay Rawlins: The Orlando Pride. Imagine that. And I still haven’t quite gotten into American football. I still find it a little bit confusing, but I’m happy for all our local teams. Orlando Magic are, say, big friends with us. We’ve got a great relationship with them, so, but, yeah, obviously City and Pride are top of my list.
Heidi Otway: Wonderful. Well, Kay, thank you so much for being a guest on the Fluent in Floridian podcast. This has been a wonderful and inspiring conversation, so thank you.
Kay Rawlins: Thank you for inviting me. I’ve enjoyed our time.
Chris Cate: Thanks for listening to the Fluent in Floridian podcast. This show is executive produced by April Salter with additional support provided by Heidi Otway and the team at SalterMitchell PR. If you need help telling your Florida story, SalterMitchell PR has you covered by offering issues management, crisis communications, social media, advocacy, and media relations assistance. You can learn more about SalterMitchell PR at saltermitchellpr.com. You can also learn more about the Fluent in Floridian podcast and listen to every episode of the show at fluentinfloridian.com or by searching for the show using your favorite podcast app. Have a great day.
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