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2021-07-07 | New Roads Magazine

Driven: Community Builder

Erik Kennedy’s work connecting to communities in Milwaukee is powered by his affinity for relationship building and his Trailblazer RS.

Building meaningful connections, especially in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, is imperative to lifelong “Chevy guy” Erik Kennedy.

Kennedy, 37, grew up in Akron, Ohio, but moved to Wisconsin in 2008 to pursue better career options. His extroverted personality made him a perfect fit for community relations in health care. “I help to build relationships throughout eastern Wisconsin and in the greater Chicago area,” says Kennedy, who resides in the Milwaukee suburb of Shoreline. “We support a lot of different organizations and nonprofits, especially schools and community initiatives that would qualify for free clinics and sponsorships.”

MAN ON THE MOVE
Erik Kennedy and his 2021 Trailblazer RS travel throughout eastern Wisconsin and the Chicago area for his job in community relations in health care.

Kennedy’s interpersonal skills proved valuable after he relocated to Wisconsin. “When I moved here, it was really hard for me to make friends, because people were like, ‘What’s in it for me? What are you trying to sell me?’ And I just wanted to get to know them,” he says.

ERIK’S FAVORITE FEATURES

The features Erik likes best on his 2021 Trailblazer RS AWD reflect the capability and technology available on this flexible SUV.

01. DRIVE MODES

The multi-mode drive system’s AWD mode is handy for Wisconsin’s variable weather.

02. CAMERA

Parking around downtown areas is easy with the standard Rear Vision Camera.

Kennedy’s interpersonal skills proved valuable after he relocated to Wisconsin. “When I moved here, it was really hard for me to make friends, because people were like, ‘What’s in it for me? What are you trying to sell me?’ And I just wanted to get to know them,” he says.

 

But as Kennedy—who was born in South Korea and adopted into a U.S. family—got more involved with various young professional networks and volunteer work, he noticed a bigger problem: Not only did he keep seeing the same small group of Asian American faces at each event, the local Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community was largely overlooked by diversity and inclusion initiatives. This motivated Kennedy to co‑found ElevAsian in 2017. The organization works to increase the profile of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the area.


“We started ElevAsian because we saw that there was a need to raise the visibility of local AAPI leaders and businesses, and also really tell companies and the community initiatives that, yes, we’re here and we’re more than willing to share our resources, insight, and passions to be a part of the conversation,” says Kennedy.

ERIK’S FAVORITE FEATURES

The features Erik likes best on his 2021 Trailblazer RS AWD reflect the capability and technology available on this flexible SUV.

01. DRIVE MODES

The multi-mode drive system’s AWD mode is handy for Wisconsin’s variable weather.

02. CAMERA

Parking around downtown areas is easy with the standard Rear Vision Camera.

But as Kennedy—who was born in South Korea and adopted into a U.S. family—got more involved with various young professional networks and volunteer work, he noticed a bigger problem: Not only did he keep seeing the same small group of Asian American faces at each event, the local Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community was largely overlooked by diversity and inclusion initiatives. This motivated Kennedy to co‑found ElevAsian in 2017. The organization works to increase the profile of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the area.


“We started ElevAsian because we saw that there was a need to raise the visibility of local AAPI leaders and businesses, and also really tell companies and the community initiatives that, yes, we’re here and we’re more than willing to share our resources, insight, and passions to be a part of the conversation,” says Kennedy.

Although honored as one of Wisconsin’s most influential Asian American leaders this summer, Kennedy is prouder of ElevAsian’s efforts to amplify others. The organization’s work has led to members being asked to join community initiatives and sit on various committees, but their true impact is measured by whom they empower. Kennedy notes that Milwaukee is a big city, but still small enough for change to be evident. “Being able to raise the visibility and help empower others and really be a part of the conversations within the community has been humbling and eye-opening for us within the last three to four years,” he says.

IT’S ALWAYS BEEN INGRAINED IN ME TO SUPPORT GM VEHICLES. I WANTED A REALLY STYLISH CAR THAT REALLY DRIVES WELL.

ERIK KENNEDY

It’s easy for Kennedy to devote so much of his personal time to community-focused work because it goes hand-in-hand with what he does professionally. As a self-described connector who enjoys being around people, he finds himself on the move often. “Having that reliable vehicle is much needed,” he says.

Kennedy drives a 2021 Chevy Trailblazer RS, but his history with Chevrolet predates him even having a driver’s license. His grandfather worked for the company, so “it’s always been ingrained in me to support GM vehicles,” he says. Before his Trailblazer, Kennedy owned a Chevy Malibu and a Chevy Cobalt. He upgraded to an SUV for style and capability purposes. “I wanted a really stylish car that really drives well,” he says. “And since I live in Wisconsin, I wanted my next car to be all-wheel drive.”

Kennedy’s Trailblazer’s black accents are eye-catching — “I think that’s really cool” — but he also appreciates technological features like the remote start, color touch-screen, heated driver and front passenger seats, and automatic headlamps. The biggest advantage, however, has been the storage space his Trailblazer provides. “It’s definitely given me more space to put stuff,” Kennedy says.

COVID-19 has kept Kennedy from doing some of the community work that he loves in the way that he’d prefer, but his new Trailblazer has already made life more enjoyable. “I would say that pre‑COVID, I’d probably be driving more,” he says. “But the miles I’ve driven to go hiking, or to restaurants such as San Giorgio Pizzeria Napoletana, or to see my friends, or to my F45 Training Lakefront Milwaukee workouts have been awesome.”

Just like his prior Chevys, Kennedy’s Trailblazer has helped keep Erik well in tune with the world around him.

Tag us in photos of your vehicle on social media with #ChevyLove and @Chevrolet.

STORY: JULIAN KIMBLE / PHOTOGRAPHER: CAITLIN ABRAMS

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*The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • EPA estimated with 3.6L V6 engine.

  • EPA estimated with 3.6L V6 engine.

  • Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner's Manual for more information.

     

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • Does not detect people or items. Always check rear seat before exiting.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google, and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android (TM) 5.0 Lollipop or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

  • Service varies with conditions and location. Requires active service plan and paid AT&T Data plan. See onstar.com for details and limitations.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See your vehicle Owner’s Manual for more information.

  • EPA-estimated MPG city/highway: Sonic Sedan with 6-speed manual transmission 27/38; with 6-speed automatic transmission 26/34; Sonic Hatchback with 6-speed manual transmission 26/35; with 6-speed automatic transmission 26/34.

  • Certain features require a SiriusXM subscription and the Chevrolet Connected Access plan. See siriusxm.com and onstar.com for details and limitations.

  • Do not use summer-only tires in winter conditions, as it would adversely affect vehicle safety, performance and durability. Use only GM-approved tire and wheel combinations. Unapproved combinations may change the vehicle’s performance characteristics. For important tire and wheel information, go to my.chevrolet.com/learnAbout/chevrolettires or see your dealer.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google, and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android(TM) 5.0 Lollipop or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

     

  • Standard on Extended Cab and 2WD Crew Cab Short Box models.

  • Standard on 2WD Crew Cab Long Box and 4WD Crew Cab models.

  • Available on Extended Cab models

  • Available on Crew Cab models

  • Read the vehicle owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Equipment from independent suppliers is not covered by the GM New Vehicle Limited Warranty. GM is not responsible for the safety or quality of independent supplier alterations.

  • Premier shown seats seven. Standard on L, LS. Available on LT.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • The system wirelessly charges one mobile device. Some devices require an adaptor or back cover. To check for phone or other device compatibility, visit my.chevrolet.com/learn for details.

  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Park Assist and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert. Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Requires AWD and 3.6L engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • To avoid the risk of injury, never use Recovery Hooks to tow a vehicle. For more information, see the Recovery Hooks section of your Owner's Manual.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

     

  •  

    Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • To avoid the risk of injury, never use Recovery Hooks to tow a vehicle. For more information, see the Recovery Hooks section of your Owner's Manual.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Go to my.chevrolet.com/learnAbout/bluetooth to find out which phones are compatible with the vehicle. Full Bluetooth feature functionality varies by device, model and software version.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and Apple Music are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android™ 5.0 or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Premier shown seats seven. Standard on L, LS. Available on LT.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Includes Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, IntelliBeam automatic high beams on/off, Following Distance Indicator.  Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • The system wirelessly charges one compatible mobile device. Some devices require an adaptor or back cover. To check for phone or other device compatibility, visit my.chevrolet.com/learn for details.

  • EPA-estimated 259-mile EV range. Your actual range may vary based on several factors including temperature, terrain, and driving technique.

  • Available on select Apple and Android devices. Service availability, features and functionality vary by vehicle, device and the plan you are enrolled in. User terms apply. Device data connection required. See onstar.com for details and limitations.

  • Read your vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information. 

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices. Map Coverage available in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Requires available 3.6L engine and Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow

  • Requires available 3.6L engine and Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow

  • Requires available 3.6L engine and Trailering Package. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Chevy Safety Assist: Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, Following Distance Indicator and IntelliBeam. Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and Apple Music are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android, Android Auto, Google, Google Play and other marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.  

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and Apple Music are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See your vehicle Owner’s Manual for more information.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Standard on Extended Cab and 2WD Crew Cab Short Box models.

  • Standard on 2WD Crew Cab Long Box and 4WD Crew Cab models.

  • Available on Extended Cab models.

  • Available on Crew Cab models.

  • Equipment from independent suppliers is not covered by the GM New Vehicle Limited Warranty. GM is not responsible for the safety or quality of independent supplier alterations.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints.  Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint.  See the Owner's Manual for more information.

  • Read the vehicles Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • Includes Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, IntelliBeam, and Following Distance Indicator. Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay, iPhone, Siri and Apple Music are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and a compatible AndroidTM smartphone. Data plan rates apply. You can check which smartphones are compatible at g.co/androidauto/requirements. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google, and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and a compatible Android™ smartphone. Data plan rates apply. You can check which smartphones are compatible at g.co/androidauto/requirements. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.