If Julie Kirner had one super power it would be speed — she wants to go where she wants to go, and she wants to get there fast. Her urgency might sound surprising considering her country upbringing in the no-stoplight farming village Marcellus, Michigan. There, she grew up picking strawberries for her dad’s produce stand, which sounds like some folksy fun to tourists, until you realize it’s hot, sticky and a ton of work. Nowadays, she dreams of ways to rid herself of the dreaded time between places, from flying off to catch clients or jetting around her two teenage sons as the ultimate soccer mom. Cue her hidden talent: She can map out almost any route in Detroit, timing it so that she doesn’t hit a single red light.
That kind of street savvy comes from a professional lifetime spent in the Motor City, from her first seven years selling magazines with the Meredith Corporation to nearly a decade cracking the Midwest market open for the Wall Street Journal. The Wayne State University (M.B.A.) and Albion College (B.A.) graduate takes that experience to OZY, where she now serves as the Midwest sales director, working with clients everywhere from Minneapolis to Cleveland and anywhere between.
Kirner prides herself on her sincerity, warmth and kindness, so much so that past coworkers used to joke that she was Michigan nice. Of course, the, ahem, “creative,” linguist can also hold her own with the most hardboiled Ad men: her children say she swears like a truck driver and joke that she’ll cry a tear of joy the day they first curse in front of her. The Friends-loving, car aficionado admits a competitive bug: But when she’s not taking on the world, Kirner and her family can be found slalom-water skiing – at Cedar Lake in southwest Michigan.