Q&A: Kristin Ekkens


Kristin Ekkens.

Kristin Ekkens is a cultural intelligence strategist, speaker and consultant.

With experience as manager of Inclusion & Diversity at Spectrum Health, TEDx speaker, business owner, executive director of a national nonprofit and language program director, Ekkens brings a unique perspective to global leadership and talent management.

Ekkens is an activator, achiever and "includer" whose passion is helping organizations drive culturally intelligent innovation.

Biggest career break?

My most recent career break was being selected as one of 13 TEDx speakers for TEDx Spectrum Health for an audience of more than 1,300 leaders. I had only been with the organization for 3.5 months. I spoke on a topic that is very close to my heart — ubuntu. It’s an African principle that means, “We are who we are because of others.”

Proudest moment?

My proudest moment is becoming a mom. My two sons give me many proud moments.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

It’s more encouragement than advice, yet I live by it: Crazy might just work.

How did you make your first dollar?

My first official job, bussing tables in a restaurant. That lasted a total of three months.

Most-treasured possession?

My most-treasured possession is probably my wedding ring. Yet the things that are most valuable to me are intangible — faith, family, hope and love.

Dream job?

My aspiration and dream job is to be a sought-after international speaker, speaking about my latest idea put into action or international bestselling book. Topics would include cultural intelligence, innovation and positive organizations.

If I were president for a day, I would . . . ?

Declare it National Pay-It-Forward Day

Last book you’ve read?

“The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor

Last thing you Googled?

Design thinking process

Your worst habit?

My husband would say shuffling my feet when I walk. It’s a confident shuffle!

To unwind, I like to . . . ?

Watch “The Voice” and dream about what it would be like to have an amazing singing voice

Dream vacation?

My dream vacation is traveling around the world, exploring the nooks and crannies of small villages, experiencing the excitement of big cities! The next adventure on my list is southeast Asia and India.

Favorite food?

Anything that incorporates lime, avocado and basil or cilantro (Thai, Costa Rican, Cuban)

Person you most admire?

Just one person? I most admire the late Maya Angelou. Her grace, passion, positivity and determination inspire me. If I had a daughter, I would name her Maya. The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspires me through his peaceful perseverance and ability to rally millions around justice and civil rights. And lastly, my kids inspire me daily. Their honest worldview is refreshing. 

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