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Chamber names Kelly Monkman its 'Citizen of the Year'

Kelly Monkman was chosen by the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce as its "Citizen of the Year." He will be presented his award at the upcoming Chamber Gala.

Kelly Monkman feels that, after 18 years as a Woodbury resident, he's made the full transition into being a Minnesotan. All except for one thing: He still has trouble hitting the brakes when ice skating with his daughters.

"If there isn't a wall to stop me, I'm like a fish out of water," the Bloomington, Ill. native said candidly, summing up his skating skills. "That whole hockey thing, I think it's tough to understand unless you grew up with it."

Save for that "hockey thing," Monkman has done pretty well during his stead in Woodbury. The insurance salesman and independent business owner (he owns and operates Monkman and Associates and the Woodbury Directory) moved to town in 1989 and met his future wife Beth, who grew up in Woodbury. The couple is in the midst of raising daughters who are now in elementary school and junior high.

If a guy from Illinois can get that far in Minnesota, he deserves an award. But Monkman has not limited himself to his family and career. He's also been heavily involved in the community since he moved to Woodbury. For his many years of volunteer work with several local organizations, Monkman was awarded recently by the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce as its Citizen of the Year.

Whether it's his involvement with the well-established Woodbury Lions Club or the recently established Woodbury Community Foundation, his peers say Monkman has been there to lend a hand.

Monkman has held several key positions in organizations like the Southeast Area YMCA and the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce.

For two years, he served as chamber president, which Monkman called time well spent, but also a "baptism by fire."

"I was the second vice chair and the chair and first vice chair both had other duties they had to fulfill, so I was the next one in line," he said.

This year Monkman will take over as the board chair for the YMCA, which is an organization he said he's enjoyed making time for.

"I like what they do," Monkman said "A big chunk of their money goes towards giving back to the community and that's kind of what its all about."

Monkman said the local "Y" has been a great source for providing scholarships for families in need.

"We have a good focus on raising money for families who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford a membership or children who wouldn't otherwise be able to go to camp," he said.

Monkman said his family has a YMCA membership, but admits to spending a lot of time at another gym (Lifetime) for pickup basketball games.

"There's a group of guys who have been playing basketball there for 10 years, so that's where you can find me," he said.

Monkman said he's appreciative of the honor he's received from the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce, but added that he feels like he's received much more from the community than he has invested in it.

"I remember when I first opened my business (a former colleague said) I should join the chamber, but he also said, 'You're not going to get a lot of business out of it, but you'll be able to help make Woodbury a better place to live.'"

But over time, Monkman has been able to see his business prosper along with the community.

"It's been exciting, and it really makes you feel like this really is the best place to live in the whole world," he said.