With longtime Los Altos Chamber of Commerce President Julie Rose retiring last month, the Commerce now has a not-so-new face at the helm – Pat Kapp. Kapp joined the Chamber in February as co-president in preparation for Rose’s departure.
Kapp recently responded to the Town Crier’s questions about her plans for the future.
Q: How long have you been with the Chamber, and how did you get involved?
A: I started in February of this year. I knew about the Chamber because I’ve lived in Los Altos for 20 years. (Then) I started talking to Julie Rose. I met her through the Rotary Club. We started to get to know each other through Rotary socially, and then she said she was thinking about retiring and (asked), “Would you be interested?” – and off we went.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about your new role?
A: For me, building a team is the most gratifying thing. I’m changing the structure a bit right from the get-go. On my official start date, we also hired a membership manager (Kris Olson). We sort of restructured the team because it seemed to me as I had worked through the transition that the goals of the Chamber were going to be really difficult to meet with the existing (staff).
The main mission of the Chamber is to support the members. It just seemed like there’s this key piece of the job – the members – and I wasn’t going to be able to get to them. We have close to 400 members and have the relationships, and that was something we really lost with Julie Rose because she had been there so long, so she had all this institutional knowledge.
How am I going to get to know 400 unique businesses and grow them and keep them happy? I thought if I could restructure my job, I would be able to hire a person to be our membership manager. Now there’s three of us, and working as a team is a fun dynamic, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Note: The addition of Olson isn’t the only change to the Chamber. Kapp also changed the title and duties of former administrative coordinator Nicole Walton – she is now the outbound communications and marketing manager.
Q: What did you do before you got involved with the Chamber?
A: I worked for a year for the Los Altos Stage Company part time. Prior to last year, I had taken 14 years off to raise my kids here. So I really wanted to go back to work for a long time.
Q: What’s something about your job that people may not know you do?
A: Probably how important it is to dig deep in Los Altos, but you cannot do it alone. For me to do my job, I have to work with a lot of other organizations, and it takes a lot of time. And I think that those relationships are really important.
Having my (Chamber) counterparts participating in countywide and regional groups is really going to be important for us going forward. People probably don’t see me and think I’m over there in my office that’s so darling in Lincoln Park, but I’m out and about.
Q: What’s one type of business that you’d like to see in Los Altos that we don’t already have?
A: I would like to see a bigger corporate business have roots in Los Altos. They’re kind of here, but they’re on the fringe – we don’t have an office building to support a development office.
I feel like there are a lot of people (living in Los Altos) who work for Google, work for Facebook, Apple, these big companies that are very wealthy. Their people are here, so I just think they need to establish a footprint here.
Q: What’s one fun fact about you that people may not know?
A: I’m the youngest of eight kids. I have a brother and six sisters, so I’m the youngest of eight in 11 years. And my mom was a saint. I loved it. It was really great growing up in a big family. So much of who I am is from being raised by a bunch of people.
– Grace Hase contributed to this report