A native New Yorker, Karel “Kerri” Givens had a professional career in marketing and events at two global companies in New York City, CIBC Capital Markets and Pfizer, before getting married and moving to Columbia in 2004.
She then started a new career with City Center Partnership (CCP), a non-profit organization that provides public space management, economic development, place management, marketing services and public advocacy for the Main Street District. As vice president of CCP, Givens oversees the funding and administrative duties of the organization. She recently was accepted to the International Downtown Association’s exclusive Emerging Leadership Fellowship program, which will be held in June in New York City.
There are so many unique restaurants in Columbia that it is difficult to name my favorite one. But I would have to say my top three are Camon Japanese Restaurant for their sashimi, Blue Cactus Café for their Korean dishes and Cola’s for their entire menu and ambience. My favorite all-around restaurant is definitely Cola’s, but I like just about all of the downtown restaurants.
My favorite drink is coffee, so you might find me sipping at Blue Flour, Starbucks or the wonderful new place near my neighborhood, Indah coffee. And I absolutely love the atmosphere and wine at Lula Drake on Main Street and cocktails at Cola’s.
One of my favorite things about living in Columbia is the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities. As an avid runner, I enjoy running along the Riverfront Park and trail running at Sesquicentennial State Park. One of my favorite pastimes is going with my daughter to EdVenture and to the State Museum’s state-of-the-art 4-D theater.
Music is another one of my passions. My husband and I enjoy concerts at the Township Auditorium and live jazz music in the upstairs lounge at Pearlz Oyster Bar. I also enjoy listening to the various bands while Salsa dancing at the Latin Festival on Main.
Art and culture are passions of mine, which is why I must acknowledge the art galleries and museums in Columbia. if ART and 701 Center for Contemporary Art are my all-time favorites, and The Columbia Museum of Art is wonderful. I love their Remix, Themes and Variations in African-American Art exhibit. One of my top things to do before June is to go see their exhibit, “Enduring Spirit: The Art of Tyrone Geter.”