WHEN KATHY LOWREY helped open the Northshore Harbor Center in 2005, she saw the event as a culmination of a dream. Ten years later, Kathy understands that it was only the beginning. Since the Harbor Center opened, it has played a vital role—providing a gathering place for Northshore residents as well as spurring the local economy. The facility has been such a resounding success it now generates two times a return on the area’s investment. For every $1 in operational taxes collected for the Harbor Center, it puts back $2 into the community. And Kathy has been there every step of the way, starting first as the Sales and Marketing Director and moving into the position of General Manager, where she has served since 2008.
Kathy’s exuberant personality, dedication and management skills have contributed to the success of the facilty. She has a strong background in sales and business management as well as facility management. Kathy is a graduate of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) Professional Facility Management School and its Graduate Institute. She also serves as incoming Chair of the Board of Governors of the IAVM Senior Executive Symposium at Cornell University and serves as the organization’s state representative for Louisiana. While her extensive education and training have given her the tools to do her job, Kathy believes her tenacity and perspective are what allow her to excel in her position. “There is an opportunity for success in every challenge,” she said. “If it is important to you, you have the ability to accomplish it.”
Overseeing an average of nearly 200 event days per year, Kathy has seen and experienced just about everything at the Harbor Center. She can regale you with stories ranging from elephants roaming through the lobby to facility personnel “dumpster diving” to help find a guest’s lost wedding ring. “I give a tremendous amount of credit to our team. With only 10 full-time staff, they truly go above and beyond to make sure our events go off without a hitch. They just care so much about the Center and the people we serve. It is rare today to see that level of commitment,” she said.
Kathy explained that while some events stand out in her mind—like the time they scurried to put together a meeting, AV equipment and catering with only 24-hours notice because they were contacted at the last minute by a gentleman who had lost his meeting space—she really does not have any favorites. “Each event is different. Everyone comes in with a different vision. As we work with our clients to bring their visions to life, they become our visions as well,” she said. “With the average planning time for a meeting or event between nine to 12 months, our two event managers spend quite a lot of time with clients from the initial booking to the event itself. It is so rewarding to see the process come full circle.”
Before the Northshore Harbor Center opened, the staff decided to stencil motivational quotes on the individual office walls. Kathy has taken these nuggets of inspiration and given them a life of their own. Every day, she chooses a quote and shares it with coworkers and Facebook friends. “When I need a little inspiration, I’ll go through sources to find the one quote that speaks to me that day.” Calling it “just a little bright spot” in her daily routine, Kathy mentioned that people now tell her they search her Facebook page on a regular basis to see the quotes she’s picked.
She especially enjoys the words from Eleanor Roosevelt, “We gain strength, courage and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” It is a mindset that Kathy holds dear and one of the reasons for her positive outlook. “Life is too short to spend it being pessimistic. When you are struggling to find answers, you may not find the solution you expect. But more often than not, it’s the solution that’s right for you.”
As the mother of three girls and one stepson, Kathy loves spending time with her expanded clan that also includes a son-in-law and two grandchildren. She and husband Bruce have spent a seven-year labor of love restoring their boat salvaged from Hurricane Katrina, as a place to enjoy their family, their friends and one another. The couple, who had similar experiences on the water as children, rekindled their love of the water when on their honeymoon in Mexico. Their boat is now a home for both happy occasions and casual getaways.
It is obvious that Kathy is driven by her passion for her family and her community. After moving to the Northshore in 2002, she quickly made the area her home. She is involved in both business and charitable organizations, including the E. St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, SMH Women’s Health Alliance and Slidell Women’s Civic Club and is a graduate of the 2009 class of Leadership Northshore. Wanting to do more to help empower women on the Northshore, Kathy teamed with Dionne Graham of Rainbow Childcare to establish Slidell Empowering Ladies and Families (SELF). SELF is a mentorship program where businesswomen are partnered with protégées to help identify tools and resources that will help them achieve their goals. There are eight matches participating in this year’s SELF class.
In recognition of Kathy’s service and activism, the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce presented her with the 2014 Athena Award for Leadership. “I am so fortunate because I absolutely love the Harbor Center,” Kathy said. “Everything I do is to benefit this building and the community. Knowing I am part of something bigger than myself is what motivates me daily.”
She noted, “When people see me, they don’t think Kathy…they think Northshore Harbor Center. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Kathy Lowrey is the General Manager of the Northshore Harbor Center located at 100 Harbor Center Blvd. in Slidell. For more information visit northshoreharborcenter.com or call 985-781-3650.