The Mackenzie Cates-Allen Story
Mackenzie Cates-Allen is a Mom (of 3 girls, 5, 3, and 1) and a Wife (to Mark, a computer systems applications systems engineer for a major bank. He’s the Allen of Cates Allen Connections.)
At 7, Mackenzie, with her family, moved from Evansville, Indiana to Greensboro, NC, where she lived and went to school. During high school, Mackenzie was hyper involved, in everything from year round band (she plays clarinet), to NHS, to Junior Civitan, to student government, where she was Student Body President and Class Secretary.
Mackenzie has always had a passion for giving back and for leadership roles.
Mackenzie attended Salem College and obtained a degree in Nonprofit Management. She is very proud to have attended the oldest women’s college in the country and always notes that Salem was one of the first in the US to offer that degree. She readily admits to being a “nonprofit nerd.”
Working at Carmike Cinemas and climbing the ranks from slinging popcorn into management, after graduating in 2008, Mackenzie joined the YWCA of Winston-Salem as the Manager of Resource Development, located at Glade Street. When the economy melted down in 08/09 the YWCA decided to lay off most of the administration and close down the Glade Street branch.
At that point, Mackenzie, like many other recent college graduates, was over qualified and out of work, and few if any businesses, were hiring. So she went back to Carmike Cinemas into management, until she could find work in her beloved nonprofit field.
The next years Mackenzie, needing to pay her bills, worked in apartment leasing and new home construction, taking an odd administrative job here and there in the nonprofit world, before she found herself at the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership.
During this time, Mackenzie also met her would-be husband, Mark, at her karaoke spot, where she was DD’ing for friends, as she often did. They were married July 12, 2013.
At the DWSP, Mackenzie found herself loving being involved in the center of the city, assisting in Downtown revitalization and community building. As she says, “up until that point, it was the closest I had ever come to doing just exactly what I wanted to be doing.” After 3.5 years, with opportunities for advancement and community-building lacking at her current employment, Mackenzie decided to take some time off.
“As an adult, I had never not worked before.” She wanted to examine what she was best at doing, where she wanted to go in her career, and what the city of Winston-Salem, the place she had called home since 2004, needed.
After asking around and consulting with all kinds of folks from different backgrounds, they came to the conclusion that what was missing was a central organization, one who served at the center of the city. An organization BY the people, for the people; one that wouldn’t leave the average person out of the loop. At the end of 2016, the Winston-Salem Ambassadors was created, with a mission to educate, by increasing awareness of Winston-Salem, both within the city AND without (regionally and nationally.)
Since that time, Mackenzie has served as President & Chief Ambassador, pouring her time, money and passion into making the city a better place and trying to bring people together. The organization, a direct mirror of it’s founder, aims to welcome each and every person to and in Winston-Salem.
At the end of 2018, Mackenzie was chosen to attend City of Winston-Salem University, a once a year course produced by the City of Winston-Salem. This deep dive into all things city government gave Mackenzie an even deeper glimpse into the working of the City of Winston-Salem, which she had already begun to dip her toes into.
“With a grin that makes you feel instantly at home,” Mackenzie is now actively involved in city government, raising her 3 girls and enjoying all that Winston-Salem has to offer. In her own way, Mackenzie tries to make WS, her adopted home, a better place every day.