KFC is known for being Always Original, and the people on our team are no different. Ameina Kaleel – 22-year-old Restaurant General Manager (RGM) in Minnesota, fits right in. Ameina works for the Stewart Restaurant Group which owns more than 90 KFC restaurants across the U.S. She enjoys working at a brand with a rich history and inspiring story, and after a brief conversation with Ameina you quickly realize her background is equally inspiring.
Ameina started her KFC journey as a part time Team Member in 2015. Little did Ameina know, 5 years later, she’d still call KFC home. When she first donned a KFC uniform, graduating high school was priority number one but that gradually shifted. As a Team Member, Ameina continued to shine in the restaurant prompting managers to encourage her to assume more responsibility. After graduating high school and excelling in her role, a promotion was in line. Ameina soon became Shift Supervisor, a first of numerous promotions offered to her by the Stewart Restaurant Group.
Like many youth, Ameina juggled work with continuing education and spending time with family and friends. As time passed, these once segregated items slowly started to overlap. Through her management team, Ameina learned of the KFC Foundation’s REACH Educational Grant Program® which helps employees at participating KFC U.S. restaurants pursue their dreams of going to college. Employees of any age, any position, pursuing any degree can receive money to help them attend the accredited college of their choice. Ameina applied and was awarded with a grant that helped her complete an associate degree—her first step to her goal of becoming an Accountant.
Completing her associate degree while working was challenging, but Ameina is no stranger to adversity. She was born and raised in Guyana—a country in the northern mainland of South America. After multiple attempts to move to the United States, her parents were awarded sponsorship in 2014. The move didn’t come without obstacles, however. Ameina and her family had to learn a new culture, new norms, overcome language barriers and of course – acclimatize to the harsh Minnesota winters. Before stepping foot on U.S. soil, the migrating family was presented with obstacles such as flight issues that caused unexpected stops between Guyana and their new home. But just like Colonel Sander’s determination to share a blend of 11 herbs and spices with the world, Ameina’s family persevered and haven’t looked back.
As Ameina grew in her role at KFC, eventually becoming RGM, she built a strong team making friends along the way. She also recruited family to join the KFC team. Ameina’s father Abdool Subhan started as a KFC cook in 2015, her sister Fareena followed in Ameina’s footsteps in 2017 (pictured below receiving REACH grant check, alongside Area Coach Andrew Carroll) and her mother Fazeela Kaleel joined the chicken crew last year. In addition to having a tight knit family, a big part of her role as an RGM is to keep the morale up. She’s learned to embrace the KFC recognition culture over the years, pointing out that the little things really do matter. For example, she remembers being recognized by her Area Coach during her early days at KFC. Beyond building a solid team, Ameina credits setting goals and taking on challenges head on as a key driver to sustainable sales in the restaurant.
Ameina also enjoys the day-to-day personal interaction with her team members and customers and take great pride in serving KFC’s world-famous chicken. She welcomes all customers the same and appreciates the diversity of people that eat at her KFC restaurant. Her favorite thing about working for KFC is meeting new guests and visiting with repeat customers from her community, some of which dine weekly. The impact of her restaurant extends beyond the four walls in Coon Rapids as they also participate in the KFC Harvest Program—a well-established food donation platform that helps get wholesome food to those in need. The process is simple: KFC restaurant team members package unsold and wholesome food for donation. With assistance from Food Donation Connection (FDC), each participating KFC restaurant is partnered with a local hunger relief organization that collects the surplus food each week to provide to those in need through community feeding programs. It’s really a win-win as team members witness firsthand the impact they’re making locally, in this case at Epiphany Catholic Church, while also minimizing waste. Globally, KFC has donated over 85 million pounds of food to more than 4,300 different charities since the program launched in 1999.
The future is bright for Ameina. Her positive, can-do attitude will carry her far in life, and most recently helped her family buy a house! When asked to provide advice to other KFC team members, Ameina said,
“You can be the quietest, shyest person like I was, yet grow to become someone who is ready to step up and lead. I love my job; I love what I do. Personally, I am ready to learn more, advance and grow up with KFC. I hope other team members feel the same.”
We’re thankful that Ameina opted to be all-in on the chicken business. We can’t wait to see what is next for her, and grateful that her family is now part of the KFC family.