Rising Stars: Katherine Morgan
-July 2nd, 2015
Title: President and CEO, Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce
Education: MBA, Gonzaga University
Tell us about your career so far: My career has grown as a direct result of countless mentors and faculty who believed in me and my passion for serving others. In the last decade, I have been fortunate to serve in the building industry during a very challenging time in that industry. Success was only found working with great teams in creating real value with meaningful outcomes.
It has been an honor to bring those experiences and skills to the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, surrounded by a passionate and committed staff and board of directors. I consider my role is more about building on the strengths of this amazing team.
In the last nine months at the Chamber, this new team has worked together to prepare for the next chapter, building a community agenda of initiatives to serve the greater good to be known as, “The BIG 5 for the Greater Spokane Valley.” I could not be more proud or honored to be a part of this next chapter for our great Spokane Valley.
What are your aspirations? I aspire to continue to serve others in whatever capacity I am honored to fill in both my personal and professional journey. I aspire to appreciate every significant moment—the struggles, the unexpected obstacles, the failures, the successes, the joys, and the wins—as they truly make this journey a treasured one. I aspire to ‘live for the moments’ and learn from them and embrace them in this gift of life.
Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration: People, process, product—the three ‘P’s’ that I love to hear in every article and episode by Marcus Lemonis from NBC’s “The Profit.” He is truly my inspiration—a man who is so grateful to live in this great country, a man who truly believes that business is the backbone of our economy, and that the priorities for any great leader—first and foremost—includes investing and believing in people. We work to live; we don’t live to work. It is a great joy to create an environment in the workplace that cultivates leadership as well as pride in living in a community we love.
Something no one would know about you: I was fortunate to attend a Catholic girls school taught by Dominican Sisters in Post Falls. I’m fairly confident I am sending some of those Sisters straight to Heaven with the patience and consistent efforts they invested in me as I was always getting into trouble! But the lessons learned at an early age and with the loving work of those Sisters have been some of the most valuable in my life ... I remain forever grateful to each and every one of them.
Job title/company: COO and CFO, Magnuson Hotels Worldwide (MHW)
Education: HLP - Harvard Business School; MBA - Eastern Washington University; BA in Finance -Gonzaga University
Tell us about your career so far. My career has been focused around strategic finance, operations, and accounting. Early in my career, the focus was with mid-sized public companies. Two local companies that gave me opportunities were KeytronicEMS (KTCC) and Ambassadors Group (EPAX). I left Spokane for a brief period while I took a leadership role with Axenda Software Inc., where I was exposed to the software and management consulting world. Following that role, I made it back to Spokane, landing my current role at Magnuson Hotels Worldwide, a private international company.
The last seven years at MHW has exposed me to a hyper-growth company lead by an entrepreneurial-minded CEO in Tom Magnuson. This has given me valuable exposure to a very fast-paced and changing environment.
What are your aspirations? I would like to help lead MHW in the next five years to a top five global hotel brand, while creating an Inland Empire employment hub for the large pool of qualified candidates that reside here. Other aspirations include, but aren’t limited to, eventually stop shaving, give up my alarm clock, and live on a lake in summer and tropical beach in the winter with no worries.
Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration: I would say that would be Ron Klawitter, EVP and CFO of KeytronicEMS. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work for KeytronicEMS. In those years, we went through many challenges. Learning from Ron gave me many tools and prepared me for the role I’m in today. In fact, I feel like I never really left KeytronicEMS, as I talk to Ron very frequently. He counsels me on large decisions and always has wisdom to share that I can count on.
I would be lying if I failed to mention Tom Magnuson, CEO of MHW. His vision and focus on strategic planning and marketing has helped me see the bigger picture and has assisted to evolve me as a more well-rounded executive.
Is there a stereotype about your generation that makes you cringe? No, my generation is almost perfect.
Something interesting/random about yourself: I am addicted to Thai Kitchen. I eat there on average twice per week. When I met my wife, there was a prerequisite that she like it too. Thankfully, she does, which allows us to be happily married!
Job title/company: Inventor and founder, iCPooch
Education: Entering junior year, North Central High School, Spokane
Tell us about your career so far. When I was 12 years old and in eighth grade, as part of a project on entrepreneurism, I attended Start Up Weekend Spokane at Gonzaga University. I pitched an idea for a product that would allow you to video chat with your dog and deliver a treat from anywhere. My idea for iCPooch garnered the most votes, and, over the course of that weekend, a team of professionals embraced the concept and helped me further develop my idea. After almost two years, we brought iCPooch to the marketplace last July. Recently we adapted our iCPooch technology and are getting ready to launch iCLovedOnes, a device that will let you connect with aging family members and deliver their medication from anywhere. I have learned so many invaluable lessons from countless amazing individuals. I have participated in the patent process, software design, product fabrication, marketing, pitching to investors, speaking to consumer groups, and all along learning invaluable life lessons about tenacity, overcoming setbacks, and developing and maintaining professional relationships.
What are your aspirations? I plan to go on to a four-year university after completing my high school career. I am very passionate about both science and business, so I hope to further my understanding of these topics in college, go on to get my M.B.A. and combine these interests in a future career. I am also very focused on continuing my work with iCPooch, expanding its technology into other markets, and helping the company to reach its full potential.
Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration: I have been blessed to have a number of incredible mentors who have believed in me and inspired me. Our product development team, our board of directors, our investors—their investment into our success and their invaluable feedback and encouragement has been an endless source of inspiration. Tom Simpson, co-founder of etailz and the inspiration behind so many Spokane startups, has supported me from the very beginning. As the president of the Spokane Angel Alliance, he helped to facilitate the funding that initially launched iCPooch as a company and to this day continues to provide me with his mentorship. Chris Martin, my dad, is an entrepreneur at heart and wholly identifies with my dream, supports me at every juncture and works tirelessly to help me realize my passion. I am truly blessed to have both of these men participating in this journey with me.
Is there a stereotype about your generation that makes you cringe? Something that makes me cringe about young women is that so many feel that they can’t compete in STEM fields. I hope that in some small way, through my speaking engagements and mentoring opportunities, I can inspire more young people—and more young women—to aspire toward STEM careers.
Something interesting/random about yourself. I have three golden retrievers, Kayla, Zoey and Noel, and two Morgan horses, Bear and Corey. My sister and I ride competitively and are preparing to compete at the Morgan Grand Nationals in Oklahoma City this October.
Job title/company: Partner & chair of corporate practice group at Lee & Hayes
Education: JD, University of Arizona College of Law (2003); BA, Western Washington University (1998)
Tell us about your career so far: I have had the unique privilege of working with entrepreneurs and companies throughout my career, in both internal and external roles. After practicing law in the Seattle office of K&L Gates, I was provided with the tremendous opportunity to join the executive team at Next IT. This represented a significant turning point in my career, as it allowed me to fulfill a dream of returning to Spokane and help lead one of the region’s great companies. After working as COO/CFO and general counsel of Next IT, I joined Telect as the vice president of sales, marketing and product development, where I had the privilege of helping lead the customer-facing aspects of one of the nation’s leading network solution providers. I am now a partner and the chair of the corporate practice group at Lee & Hayes, where my practice focuses on corporate securities matters, mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnerships, financings, and general corporate matters, including commercial transactions. At Lee & Hayes, we pride ourselves on working at the intersection of law and business, and I am privileged to be a part of this platform and apply both my operational and legal experience for the benefit of our clients.
What are your aspirations? I want to continue to be a contributor to the Spokane business community. Returning to Spokane was a deliberate decision based, in large part, on the desire to try and make a difference in the business community of my hometown. Lee & Hayes, like Next IT and Telect, is part of a larger story of Spokane-based companies thriving in the national and international business community. This community needs world-class businesses, like Lee & Hayes, that not only provide meaningful employment in the area, but understand and embrace the leading role business needs to play in advancing our community. I want to continue to be a part of this movement and ensure that my children (4 and 2) never have to leave our area to pursue their career ambitions.
Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration: I am very lucky to receive the mentorship of a number of amazing leaders in our community. The mentor who has had the biggest impact on my life, however, is my father, Dick Denenny. His leadership in the community, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to our family has been a source of inspiration throughout my life. He continues to set a compelling example to this day and his guidance and friendship is something I cherish greatly.
Is there a stereotype about your generation that makes you cringe? I am proud to be associated with my generation and cringe at the stereotype that we are somehow lost and lack direction.
Something interesting/random about yourself. I spent a year living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and prior to law school, I worked seasonal jobs for a couple of years, including a stint as a ski bum in Alta, Utah.
Job title/company: Owner, managing broker, Prime Real Estate Group and One Property Management
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Gonzaga University, MBA, Gonzaga University
Tell us about your career so far. After ending my career in politics, I began working in real estate 10 years ago. I was immediately hooked! I have represented buyers and sellers all over Spokane, from Hillyard to Browne’s Mountain to Liberty Lake and Davenport. While I’m most known for my work selling homes in Spokane, I also sell properties in Idaho. I enjoy a diverse array of clients and a daily discourse with properties of every kind. I started Prime Real Estate Group in 2012 while simultaneously completing my M.B.A. at Gonzaga. I like to focus on mentorship within the brokerage and use what I have discovered as a top-selling agent to motivate my brokers. In 2013, I began One Property Management, a rental management company dedicated to working primarily with single-family properties in Spokane (and soon Coeur d’Alene). We employ two full-time property managers and a bookkeeper.
What are your aspirations? After going independent with my own brokerage at Prime, I found that managing a brokerage challenged and inspired me in new ways. This spring, I opened our first brick-and-mortar Idaho office in Coeur d’Alene, and I want to keep growing. I’m finding lots of talented agents across Spokane and Coeur d’Alene who want a different approach to real estate and want to work with Prime. I’d love to continue opening more branches, as well as expand our property management company to Idaho.
Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration: I was first introduced to Mike Ferry and his (real estate coaching) organization nine years ago and have doggedly pursued his model of hard work and excellent customer service ever since. But personally, my grandmother’s philanthropy and commitment to her community is a legacy I hope to continue.
Is there a stereotype about your generation that makes you cringe? While I fully embrace technology (I even have a personal robot on back order—true story!), I do believe that nothing takes the place of hard work. I seek to strengthen professional partnerships and reach out to new sectors of the community as a way of growing my business, and I value face-to-face contact in that regard.
Something interesting/random about yourself: I can put Sriracha sauce on everything.
Job title/company: Founder and owner, Indaba Coffee
Education: BA in finance and an MBA, both from Washington State University
Tell us about your career so far: My post-graduate career so far has included a brief stint as an executive team leader in logistics at a Target store in Kalispell, Mont. I left that position in order to pursue my passion and be close to family here in Spokane. I started Indaba Coffee in 2009 with the dream to create a gathering place in a neighborhood that was in many ways unseen or looked down upon. By employing people from the neighborhood, moving into the neighborhood myself, and creating a destination known for quality, I wanted to be a catalyst for change. In 2012, I was recognized as one of Spokane’s Best Baristas in The Inlander, which was a tremendous boost. Since this recognition, Indaba Coffee has grown into a micro-roasting company that ships nationwide and provides a meal for someone in need with every bag of coffee sold.
What are your aspirations? With the launch of our second Indaba Coffee location downtown, I am aspiring to open a third location that will serve as a full-scale roastery & coffee bar. Long term, I’d love to take my experiences and knowledge into the classroom and teach at the collegiate level.
Tell us about a mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration: Someone I continually look to for inspiration and wisdom is Jesus Christ. My faith is a big part of why I do what I do, and I am continually finding myself gleaning wisdom from the way Jesus lived his life and the words he spoke. From the way I lead my employees to how I care for my guests, the model of love and care that Jesus has shown is the foundation for my hospitality. I call it “beyond the cup” hospitality. The love and service doesn’t just end with handing you a cup of coffee.
Is there a stereotype about your generation that makes you cringe? The stereotype that my generation feels entitled makes me cringe. Owning and succeeding in a small business takes a lot of grit and determination. There were many months where I didn’t make a paycheck but somehow found a way to pay the bills. There are plenty of people my age who know the value of an honest living and the hard work it takes to get there.
Something interesting/random about yourself: I currently own a home and live in West Central with my boy, Carson, little girl, Avery, and beautiful wife, Sheena. We’re expecting our third little one in July!
Job title/company: Owner of Simply Northwest
Education: BA from Eastern Washington University in social work and AA in business management and marketing
Tell us about your career so far. I began working for Simply Northwest in 2006 and was quickly promoted to retail manager where I stayed until the original owner, De Scott, approached me with the possibility of taking over Simply Northwest and purchasing the business from her, which I did in January of 2011.
What are your aspirations? To continue to develop a business that is successful and provides exceptional customer service to my very customers. I would love to grow my customer base and have the opportunity to work with many new locally owned businesses here in the Spokane community. I truly believe in the importance of showing your appreciation and recognition to both your customers and your employees, and my goal is to help other business owners and managers accomplish this. I would also love to have my retail shop become the go-to place when needing a fun and unique gift. We are one of the last locally owned specialty shops here in Spokane, and we have many wonderful treasures to shop, several that are locally made here in the Northwest.
Tell us about your mentor: My mentor is my mother, Marlene “Marti” Hollenback. She is a very successful business owner of Dishman Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep and is loved by both her community and her employees. She has shown me the importance of giving back to our community. And as a woman business owner, she has taught me how to be successful by treating my customers and my employees with appreciation and integrity. She is always there to encourage and support me as a business owner, and is my go-to whenever I need advice.
Job title/company: Director of community and neighborhood services, City of Spokane
Education: BA in political science from Gonzaga University
Tell us about your career so far: I have had the privilege of serving the citizens of Spokane in multiple roles during my career. I started as a volunteer intern in the Office of Neighborhood Services, staffing a sign-in desk at a town hall meeting. Throughout my time at the City, I have been provided with challenges and opportunities to develop my professional ability and gain new experiences and now serve as a member of the City’s executive leadership team. Highlights of my career have included working to improve citizen engagement in government, contributing to the creation of a strong safety net for citizens in need, and being part of a leadership team that continues to innovate and make Spokane safer, stronger, and smarter.
What are your aspirations? There are so many fantastic things happening right now in Spokane. I am excited to see where my career takes me and look forward to opportunities where I can continue to be a part of making Spokane the city of choice for the Inland Northwest. To me, this means continuing to be in a role where I am serving people in our community.
Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration: Many people have supported me and provided guidance in my personal and professional life, but one person stands out.
Theresa Sanders, current city administrator, gave me the chance to earn my first formal leadership role and has challenged me and coached me to grow as a leader and effectively meet citizens’ needs. I should also mention Rod Minarik, who taught me everything I know about neighborhoods and mineral economics.
Is there a stereotype about your generation that makes you cringe? Yes, I think it is unfortunate that the millennial generation is considered to not have regard for the experience of older generations in the workplace. I have learned that relying on my colleagues’ experience and learning from them is the most effective way to build my own skills.
Something interesting/random about yourself: One of my favorite things to do is to build sandcastles in my hometown of Birch Bay, Wash. The best sandcastles are at least 3 feet tall and can withstand the incoming tide for over an hour. I can’t wait to build a sandcastle this year with my wife, Ali, and our newborn son, Jameson.
Job title/company: Ecova – corporate counsel; Craft & Co. Real Estate – owner/designated broker
Education: Gonzaga University, BA 2005; Gonzaga Law, 2010
Tell us about your career so far: I started out retrieving golf balls for a local golf course but after college gravitated towards the world of business. My introduction came as a business analyst for a Web marketing and business management company in Seattle (Smith f/k/a Ascentium). However, aspirations of becoming a U.S. Supreme Court justice led me back to Gonzaga for law school. My three years at GU Law were well spent, but I eventually decided I wouldn’t look good in a black robe, and set my sights on re-entering the business world to provide in-house legal counsel. As corporate counsel for Ecova, an energy management and sustainability company headquartered here in Spokane, most of my time is spent providing legal counsel in contract and deal negotiations, and in the areas of labor and employment, and real estate. Lastly, I am part owner with my wife, Janet, of Craft & Co. Real Estate, where I am the managing broker. Craft is the product of our passion for real estate, quality developments, and our desire to be business owners. I still miss my days on the golf range.
What are your aspirations? Other than retire early and sail around the world, I aspire to become general counsel for a local business. On the real estate front, Janet and I aspire to build a successful brokerage and develop more quality living spaces for local residents.
Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration: My father, of course, is my greatest inspiration. He has a legal practice in Coeur d’Alene and is the hardest working person I know. Beyond Charlie Bean, I don’t have a single mentor; mentors are everywhere. I have neighbors, cycling friends, and legal colleagues, who are all great mentors and have something to teach. I tend to gravitate toward people with positive outlooks on life and early-bird attitudes.
Is there a stereotype about your generation that makes you cringe? Self-indulgent and ungrateful. True or not, it’s something to be mindful of.
Something interesting/random about yourself. As a young boy, I was a serious nun-chucker.