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Annette Gutierrez

Oct. 26, 2022

SARASOTA COUNTY (WSNN) - A Sarasota woman who found herself in jail three times turned her life around to lead and inspire others. From drinking herself into misery and getting a felony charge to becoming an author, speaker, and entrepreneur, Kelsea Koenreich is now motivating powerful women to seek the most successful version of themselves. 

"I’m 35, but my lived experience is like 735," said Koenreich.

Koenreich is living her best life now mentoring women in monthly roundtables called ‘CEO Power Hour.’ It’s a way for women in business to come together, collaborate, and have high-level conversations.

"I believe, we don’t do anything that is great alone, we don’t get to where we want to go alone," said Koenreich. "So being able to have women that support each other is really really important."

Support is what Koenreich says she needed to get herself out of a self-destructive path she began when she was only 16 years old. 

"There was a lot of drinking, drugs and involvement and just not good things really," said Koenreich. "And I had no self-confidence, no self-awareness, I just knew that I wanted to numb and I did that with drugs and alcohol."

She was like this for 10 years until she hit rock bottom at her 3rd arrest.

"One day, I woke up in the Sarasota County Jail and I was in the medical unit and I had a suicide smock on," said Koenreich. "In that cell unit with me were two women that were in there for murder and there was almost this flash that went off of ‘What am I doing here?' And there was this moment of, you don’t belong here.’"

So, Koenreich looked at herself in the mirror and decided to make a change.

"I still very much remember this moment of ‘You have a choice,'" said Koenreich. "'You can continue on the path that you’re on or you can choose differently.' And I knew that if I continued on the path that I was on, I would probably not be here today. So, I chose to live that day."

Koenreich did not let her checkered past define her. She got sober after signing herself up for the Sarasota County Drug Court program, which is a four-phase intervention program for substance-abusive adults who have committed non-violent felony or misdemeanor crimes. 

"In my book, I call it the ‘glimmer of hope,' said Koenreich. "I was able to not have a felony on my record, so I got a second chance."

Now, Koenreich is leading and inspiring other women to reach their full potential. 

"Building resilience is about shedding what no longer serves you," said Koenreich.

"Very quickly, I realized she offered something that I desperately need which is a sympathetic ear, a guiding light," said Allison Imre, the CEO/President of Grapevine Communications. "She became my North Star."

Imre says Koenreich’s mentorship programs transformed her life.

"She enabled me to find strength in delegating tasks," said Imre. "So I accomplish more with fewer hours in the day. And it is wonderful that I am comfortable now going home at the end of the day and putting my phone away.”

If you’re trying to figure out your next move in life, Koenreich has a tip.

"You don’t have to have it all figured out to take a step," said Koenreich. "You can just take one step, and then figure out your next step from there."

Koenreich offers one on one meetings, hosts retreats and speaks at events. For more information about Koenreich, you can click here.

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