Sixth-generation Daytonian helps businesses with keeping workers engaged

There are many reasons people decide to make a place “home.”

For Kristin Mann, Dayton has been the home for six generations of her family. Her parents, Doug and Beth Mann, are deeply involved in the community — her father is a lawyer, and her mother is a therapist who runs a local nonprofit devoted to helping neglected and abused children.

“I grew up in Springboro and went to the Miami Valley School,” Mann said. “I was surrounded by people of different cultures and religions.”

After high school, Mann decided to spread her wings beyond the Dayton area and went to George Washington University, majoring in psychology. She also spent a year in London in art school.

“I even decided to move to Las Angeles and take a shot at acting,” Mann said. “It was there that I learned I was a terrible actress.”

But Mann always had an affinity for people. She discovered psychology tests when she was a young girl and though she didn’t know what her career path would be at that time, she loved giving those tests to friends and family members.

She continued her schooling and was in Chicago from 2010-2016, where she received her master’s and doctorate degrees in Industrial Organizational Psychology.

“My parents asked me what that was,” Mann said. “It’s basically helping people in the workplace — employers and employees.”

This specialty is not new, as experts started looking at employees and culture in the workplace as early as the 1940s. This evolved into developing ways to build more effective workforces and companies, talent development, coaching and organizational systems.

“I started my career in Chicago doing diversity and inclusion work,” Mann said. “I felt so lucky to travel around the world and see different cultures and I had time to think about what I really wanted.”

Mann met her husband, Aaron Stephenson, online, while she was in Chicago. Though Stephenson was in Utah at the time, the couple had a mutual friend in Chicago. Their first date after talking for two months was a hiking trip in Utah.

“We got married in 2018 at the Dayton Art Institute,” Mann said. “We had our first son, River, right before the pandemic hit.”

Credit: The Carrs & Co Photography

Credit: The Carrs & Co Photography

In 2020, Stephenson was laid off from his job in theater and Mann could no longer travel. Suddenly home with time on her hands, Mann started to look at Zillow for houses in Dayton.

“Eventually the pull of home brought me back,” Mann said. “I was always watching all the work being done in Dayton and the force of nature it is. I wanted to come back.”

Mann was pregnant with her second son, Finn, when the family moved back to Dayton after buying an 1876 era home – the former Isaac Pollick House on Monument Avenue downtown. Stephenson was hired to work as the head of sound at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Mann’s job with Raines International as the senior vice president, advisory, became fully remote.

Their new home, however, needed work before the family could move in. But Mann fell in love with the “bones” and unique features of the home.

“Our home was the Dayton Peace Museum prior to our buying it,” Mann said. “It wasn’t ready for us to live in and didn’t have a kitchen or full bathrooms.”

The renovation took about two years and during that time, the growing family lived with Mann’s parents in Washington Twp. In July of 2023, Mann and her family moved into their newly renovated home in Dayton.

“We live downtown, and we can drive to all the Dayton suburbs when we need to,” Mann said. “The houses here are really incredible and have amazing stories.”

Mann admits there has been a big shift in the world of work since the pandemic. Her hundreds of business trips annually, traveling all over the world to deliver workshops have diminished greatly and she has learned to translate it all to a virtual space.

“Hybrid roles seem to be the way things are going,” Mann said. “People want to be around other people but they also appreciate the joy of flexibility so they can go to their kids’ games or a family birthday party.”

Mann said a recent Gallop survey shows that employee engagement has gone down for the third year in a row since 2020, so companies are once again focusing on how to keep their teams motivated and engaged.

Another big reason Mann decided to return to Dayton was to work with local businesses and companies, offering her skillset to help them build their workforces and cultures.

Credit: TAI X

Credit: TAI X

“My goal from day one has been to give back to this community and be more a part of the place my family has called home for 200 years,” Mann said. “I’m in the business of both the head and the heart. That means learning how to treat people well but also keeping an eye on the business bottom line.”

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