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Alumna Gives Back To The Community

Mike Stuckey, Jill Chitwood, Tami Galloway, Deb Langdon, and Mike Augenstein
July 31, 2023

Alumna Gives Back to the Community

A local entrepreneur and philanthropist who grew up in Marion is giving back to the community. Jill Chitwood, an alumna of Marion Tech, is donating seed money for a new scholarship fund and is naming the conference room in Marion Tech Downtown at 107 North Main Street.

“Just being able to give back to the community is huge,” Chitwood said. “You can tell that from what I do. I want to help more people start small businesses and succeed.”

The new Sights Unseen Conference Room will be used to help small businesses thrive. Chitwood is an entrepreneur and businesswoman who used many of those free services to help her travel agency thrive.

“I’ve used Marion Tech Downtown to meet with [Certified Business Advisor] Michalina Lacy about my business plan. I’ve held events at Marion Tech Downtown. I’ve attended the Forge business classes for two years. I want to help other small businesses get their start.”

Dr. Amy Adams on the left and Jill Chiwood on the right.Dr. Amy Adams, left, and Jill Chitwood.

“We would not be able to offer free services to the public without the generous support of people like Jill,” said Mike Stuckey, director of the Marion Tech Foundation. “She’s investing in our community. When small businesses thrive, our whole community wins.”

“It’s a perfect location. Marion Tech is at the center of downtown Marion,” Chitwood said.  

Chitwood grew up in Marion. Her father, Richard Kneisley, lied about his age to enlist in World War II. He earned his high school equivalency (GED) when he returned. Her mother, Esther, was a secretary at Folks for Jay Mash. They valued education for their children to open doors for them to new opportunities.

Jill and her brother, Dennis, graduated from River Valley High School. Jill was the first generation of her family to attend college.

“I was one of the lucky ones. Mom and Dad paid for my college. They wanted me to stay close to home. We didn’t know anything about applying for scholarships,” Jill Chitwood recalls.

Chitwood remembers trying out law enforcement as a major before settling on business administration.

“It would allow me to do anything I wanted. It was good, rounded, training. It’s an excellent value,” Chitwood said. “The instructors are passionate about what they do. They have a lot of good classes and a lot of good people.”

Over her career, Chitwood has excelled in many areas. She served as the operations manager for the Marion Mayhem, a professional indoor arena football team, while her husband, Wayne, worked as team manager. The Chitwoods then bought their own team, the Northern Kentucky River Monsters.

Chitwood loved travel and started her own travel agency. To grow her business, she attended free business classes through The Forge, a partnership of Marion Technical College, the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, and other local agencies. Chitwood found it so valuable she took the free classes twice and brought her business partner, Sherry Nelson, to the second year.

“It really helped us work on our business plan. It’s great to be able to pick someone’s brain at no cost,” Chitwood said.

Chitwood has grown Sights Unseen Travel Agency. In addition, she founded the Marion K-9 Project Cornhole Tournament and Family Fun Day, which has raised more than $55,000 for local police dogs as well as the Marion Area Humane Society in just two years. Chitwood also held a TSA Precheck Screening event at Marion Tech Downtown and has supported other events.

Anyone can make a donation toward the new Chitwood/Kneisley River Valley Business Scholarship fund or call Mike Stuckey at (740) 386-4171.

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