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T HE WOMEN ’S I SSU E

Katie Loovis

T HE C H A M B E R’S VIC E PRESIDEN T OF E X TE R N A L A FFA IRS

K

atie has always seen the next big thing in Chapel Hill. As a high school senior in the mid-1990s, she was one of the most accomplished lacrosse players in the country as the captain of the U.S. Women’s under-19 squad. She was recruited by all of the biggest teams in the country, while UNC was only just preparing to launch a program. Still, Katie came to Chapel Hill and saw her future. “When I visited, I remember it was snowing in Baltimore, and I came down here and [saw] the red buds were blooming and the big blue skies,” she remembers. “There wasn’t even a women’s lacrosse team to show me around as a recruit! The women’s soccer and field hockey teams stepped up [as hosts]. I loved that school spirit and knew that coming to Carolina was going to be a part of something brand new.” With Katie as a four-year starter and eventual captain, the newly minted Tar Heel team made the semifinals of the NCAA tournament twice during her career. After her playing days, she enrolled at UNC for graduate school with an eye on the nonprofit world, but at a conference in Washington D.C., Katie heard about another new operation that she thought had promise: the Bush White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. George W. Bush had been president for less than a month when Katie arrived for what she thought was an internship interview. “They said, ‘You can sit here, get started,’” she remembers. It made for a hectic spring. She spent weekdays finishing her graduate degree at UNC, worked a waitress shift at Top of the Hill on Thursday nights when the tips were good, then drove to the White House to work Friday and Monday before returning to Chapel Hill on Monday nights. “It’s just one of those moments,” she says, when “you know you’re supposed to be a part of something.” She adds: “I didn’t come from a political family, I didn’t work the campaign or anything, but I knew that there was something special here.” For the next decade, at both the White House and afterward in D.C., she worked with nonprofits and service organizations, including Achieving the Dream, a community college advocacy group with roots in Chapel Hill. It was a job, she says, that opened her eyes to the role community colleges can play in an area, and it connected to memories of her mother’s life as a young woman. “My mom actually went to the local community college after she had my brother and my sister and me,” she says. “Once we got into school, she decided she wanted to go to college and become a nurse. I remember her falling asleep at night with a huge textbook on her chest and a highlighter. She got straight A’s, put herself through, earned her RN and had a really fabulous career working in the neonatal intensive care unit.” Katie returned to Chapel Hill for good in 2016 and joined the Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce in 2017, immediately helping rebrand the organization to The Chamber. Her first 18 months have been a mix of long-term programming and rapid reaction to local events as businesses weathered hurricane damage, a water main break and the disruptions of the Silent Sam protests. Katie helped author the Chamber’s letter to then-UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, laying out the business community’s support for the statue’s removal. She also revitalized the Chamber’s Policy Series connecting government and business leaders and has focused on putting the Chamber’s policy and marketing resources into plans developed by the Carrboro Business Alliance. Soon, Katie will attend NC State’s doctoral program in community college leadership. “When I wanted to move back here, some friends in D.C. were like, ‘Aren’t you going to be bored?’” she says. “It’s got every bit of the sophistication of D.C. and just a touch more kindness.” – Matt White  60

chapelhillmagazine.com

May/June 2019

Hair: Mina’s Studio Makeup: WINK hair + makeup Dress: Akris

Profile for Shannon Media

Chapel Hilll Magazine May/June 2019  

THE WOMEN’S ISSUE

Chapel Hilll Magazine May/June 2019  

THE WOMEN’S ISSUE