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[caption id="attachment_10865" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Kate King"][/caption]

Kate King,

President and CEO

Napa Chamber of Commerce

1556 First St.

Napa 94559

707-226-7455

www.napachamber.com

by Jenna V. LoceffBusiness Journal Staff Reporter

NAPA - About to celebrate 10 years with the Napa Chamber of Commerce, Kate King, the president and chief executive officer, cites the advocacy role of her job as her chief passion.

"To be able to help people become the best they can be makes my heart fill," she said.

She first came to Napa in 1997, visiting from Southern California where she was the CEO of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce.

"It was rainy and dreary, and the vines were bare," she said. "I fell in love. I got teary when I left. It felt like I had been here before."

She came back a few more times over the next year and told herself if a job opportunity came up, she would grab it.

"And as if it went from my lips to God's ears, the position at the chamber opened and I grabbed it."

She had been in charge of the San Marcos chamber for five years and seen it grow from a 300-member organization with a budget deficit to 750 members with $100,000 in reserves and its own building.

"I enjoyed the challenge," she said.

Ms. King has been recognized for her chamber work and received numerous awards. Included on her extensive awards shelf are the 1997 Western Association of Chamber Executive's William E. Hammond Award for outstanding work in chamber management, the year 2000 Chamber Executive of The Year and the 2005 Russell E. Petit Memorial Award for excellence in leadership. In November of 2006, Ms. King was one of six citizens to be appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Small Business Board.

Her nomination for the Women in Business award came from her entire staff and the executive committee of the Napa Chamber of Commerce.

"Kate is an exceptional leader," said Lisa Batto, executive vice president of the chamber. "She strives to make each member of the staff a valuable partner in the chamber's success. She supports an environment of open communication, healthy dialogue and continuing education."

She came to Southern California from Colorado Springs in the fifth grade. Her first passion was the theater, and she wanted to be a professional actress. She had been accepted into a summer program taking the show Our Town on the road with Henry Fonda.

"But I ended up falling in love and getting married instead," she said.

While still in Southern California, she started the theater group Pacific Coast Players in Oceanside.

"We got ahold of an old movie theater," she said.

It was her first dealings with a city government, the same people she deals with daily in her chamber work, but it came naturally and she convinced them that a theater would be a good thing for the city.

Prior to her chamber work, she did fundraising for both the health care industry and in theater. It was through that work, where she met her husband and love of her life, Joe Turner. She was raising funds for Golf for the Heart, and he did public relations for a company she wanted to donate to the cause.

"It was a cold call. I marched into his office saying, 'Here is why you should give us money,' and we ended up talking for an hour and a half."

They became friends. He was the one who suggested she get into chamber work, she said. Both were married to other people at the time, and they continued their friendship, coming to one another for career advice and support. After they both found themselves single, they began to date.

When she decided to come up to Napa, he was surprised she would leave the theater and her life in Southern California. To her it was a no-brainer. The only thing she wanted to know was, "You are coming with me, right?"

He did, and they were married on Christmas Eve in their Napa home to the sound of Amazing Grace being played on the bagpipes.

They have five children and four grandchildren.

Of her role with the chamber, Ms. King said, "My job is to pave the way, to remove barriers and to help people thrive. I help create an environment where there can be a strong local economy."

Since coming into her position, the net income of the Napa chamber has more than doubled, and there has been a 65 percent increase to the annual budget. In 1999 when she started, there were fewer than 1,000 members. Now, she said, there is an average of 1,230.

She said some businesses leave because of a chamber policy they didn't agree with or something they didn't like.

That is fine with her because, she said, "I would rather they leave because they are ticked off about something we did than leave because we didn't do anything."

She is a graduate of the United States Chamber's Institute for Organizational Management at San Diego University and a graduate of the University of Arizona's Economic Development Program.

She is also a graduate of Class XIV of Leadership Napa Valley and was recognized in October 2000 by Napa County's Commission on the Status of Women and State Sen. Wesley Chesbro for making a difference in the lives of women.

Her advice to women, or anyone, really looking for success in their field is simply to listen.

"If you want to be successful, listen to the people around you. They will tell you what you need to know."

Mike Silvas, president and CEO of Morgan Lane Real Estate in Napa and chairman of the board of the chamber, said she is fabulous to work with.

"One thing most people would be surprised to know," he said, "is she is a hunter."

One of her passions is shooting trap with a 12-gauge shotgun. She is a lifetime and benefactor member of the NRA.