Ray Kinney—Someone You Should Know
His resume paints him as a poster child for the nonprofit world. He is a self-starter who became a successful business leader despite dropping out of college, and yet he has a degree. He helped start the Naperville Development Partnership, is a past president of the Naperville Jaycees and has helped launch Ribfest for the past 29 years with the Exchange Club. Ask him what he would like his legacy to be and he says “a good father first.” If you don’t know Ray Kinney, you simply don’t know Naperville.
You’re a very successful commercial printer and partner of Maclyn Group, so why do you do so much volunteer work?
I’ve always felt an extra obligation to give back to the community I have been living in for over 40 years. It’s a big part of who I am and of my employees. Somebody’s got to do it and I enjoy it.
Volunteering and working have always been connected for you. How did that start?
When I was 18 years old, I started working as a shop boy at the Naperville Sun. I would help layout the ads for print. I also served on the membership committee for the Naperville Chamber of Commerce. I’d like to say in hindsight I knew what I was doing, but I just did it because I respected the people on the chamber. I joined the Jaycees and then moved on to help plan the first Ribfest. I realized that by volunteering, I was learning critical skill sets like motivation and management.
What do you like the most about volunteering?
Being surrounded by people I like and respect. I ran the Last Fling when I was 25 years old. We worked hard, played hard, and had fun making a difference. I got a greater perspective about nonprofits and a by-product of that experience was that it helped grow my business.
I understand you’ve never finished college but you have a framed degree on your wall. Tell us about that.
I tried college after high school but it wasn’t for me, so I went to work instead. As I got more involved with the community, the President of North Central College Harold Wilde asked me to be on the Board of Trustees because he saw how I loved Naperville. I often told him I didn’t even have a college degree and in the end he said ‘quit saying that.’ I was the first honorary degree recipient at the college, with a degree in public service. I think North Central has benefited by being next to downtown Naperville and the city has benefited because the college is a big economic engine that has provided us with a ready and able workforce.
What would you like your legacy to be?
That I was a good father first. I’ve been married for 27 years and have three children, they’re all good kids. Also, that I was someone who made a difference and had a positive impact on the community. I learned from my parents to give people a hand-up, not a hand-out.
Do you have any regrets?
Maybe one regret is that I didn’t originally go to a college like North Central. If I had gone to a small liberal arts college, it would have been better for me. I also regret not making enough money to be more philanthropic. You shouldn’t really have time for regrets. Part of who I am is because I haven’t got a degree. Everyone I have met has made me who I am today.Photo by Robyn Sheldon