Katie Loovis is the new vice president for external affairs in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce. Senior writer Lauren Talley talked to her about the role of the Chamber of Commerce and what she hopes to accomplish in her new job.
The Daily Tar Heel: What does the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce do within the community?
Katie Loovis: The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business in the community, and they’re focused on fostering a more sustainable community where businesses can thrive. My position is a new role they recently created, vice president for external affairs, so I’ll help them with all of their local government affairs as well as strategic communications and some fundraising as well.
DTH: What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?
KL: Well, I recently moved back to Chapel Hill. I’ve been living in Washington, D.C., for the past 15 years. I’ve been working on national and global issues and so I’m really excited to be a recent resident back in Orange County, in blue heaven, meeting as many people as I can, really understanding what are the most important issues here to our community, and how can our business community be of service. I’m doing a lot of listening and learning. I’m excited to get to know all the members of the local chamber — there are actually several hundred — and get to know our local elected officials, all of our public servants in town and figure out how we can better partner to make the community more sustainable.
DTH: Is there any one thing in particular that you’re most excited about with your new job?
KL: When I was a student at Carolina years ago, I volunteered quite a bit with the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service. I was a volunteer kitchen manager in the food kitchen every Sunday night, so I would help oversee the volunteers who prepared the meals. I really got to know the local homeless, and that actually got me started on my whole journey of my career because I really wanted to help the community. After I left Carolina, I went on to work in the Bush Administration at the White House where I was able to help foster public-private partnership in the community, so I’ve really been persuaded in my journey that businesses play an important role in helping community economic development and helping the poor. If we can figure out ways that involve businesses, government and nonprofits coming together, (then) we really can make a difference. I know there’s been a long history with the IFC and the community, so I’m interested in learning where things are and how I can be of service.
DTH: Anything else readers should know?
KL: I guess I would add that coming back to this community you know 15 or almost 20 years after I graduated I’m still just really struck — I’m having one of those 'pinch me' moments — I loved my college experience, and I’m just overwhelmed with the spirit of gratitude that I can live here again and have a role right here in this community.