Katerina Taylor > President > CEO > Dekalb Chamber of Commerce
Interviewed by : Dr. Stephen Vault . Director of Planning and Business Development . Grady System
This daughter of the Midwest was named the President and CEO of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce in 2014, becoming the first woman to lead in the 77 year history of the Chamber. The chamber’s core focus is to work with businesses across DeKalb and metro Atlanta, focusing on business growth, economic and workforce development, community outreach, education initiatives, business advocacy/public policy and business member relations.
As a strong advocate for women’s engagement in board service and business, Taylor is the immediate past Chair of the Johnnetta B. Cole Women’s Society and served as Chair for the 2015 Leading a Life of Purpose Women in Philanthropy annual event co-hosted by Georgia Public Broadcasting, the Woodruff Arts Center and United Way of Greater Atlanta.
A MUSE is supposed to inspire. Few people inspire like Katerina Taylor……
What does being a MUSE mean to you? I am very humbled that anyone would consider me a MUSE, as a muse is a source of inspiration. I’m a girl from Kansas that tries her best to always be kind, authentic, work hard and lead by example. I love to laugh and try to do it often. I don’t always get it right, but I give it everything I’ve got, and I discover a lesson in every failure. Sometimes I even get that wrong. I guess, I’m ok not being perfect and I don’t try.
"A MUSE is simply herself in spite of her flaws. She knows the world owes her nothing, but she certainly owes it, so she moves through life accordingly."
You often talk of your father as a major source of inspiration. Who else has had a profound impact on your life/career? It is true my father was my hero, and even in his passing the memories I have of him continue to teach me life lessons. However, my mother is a very bold woman moving about life believing that she can do anything. I’ve watched her in a “man’s” world and she moved with grace, elegance, and vigor. She also keeps me very humble. She is proud of my accomplishments and has always supported me, but she doesn’t miss an opportunity to tell me I didn’t make it here by myself. My successes are owed to those that sacrificed for me, be it my sisters or brothers or my first grade teacher Mrs. Winston. I am a woman shaped by many people, and my narrative has been and will be penned by many authors.
What would you tell a 10 year old Katerina? Advice? Warnings? Etc?
"Always lead with poise and grace it attracts positive energy and humbles your naysayers"
-- Kat Taylor
Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask questions, don’t miss the opportunity to promote a peer or colleague, being a girl is awesome never forget that. I’d tell my 18 year old self that boys get better after age 30 so stayed focused, wearing red lipstick means you’ve arrived and at 18 you have decades still to go. Be fair but firm. Don’t be afraid to speak up and your ideas matter.
You have been called one of DeKalb’s stylish women. What items are in your purse right now? 1) A battery pack for my many electronic devices, my “Always Red” lip stain by Sephora, business cards, 5 pens, a Swarovskistylus, 2 cell phones, tablet, Hourglass radiant bronzer, MAC N45 Longwear Concealer, Palmers Cocoa Butter, small comb and brush, hand sanitizer, wallet, small pack of tissue, keys.
2) what are my favorite items in my purse my “Always Red” lip stain by Sephora, Swarovski stylus, radiant Bronzer, MAC N45 Longwear Concealer, Palmers Coco Butter
What impact do you wish to have on DeKalb and Atlanta? There is so much I want to do to impact the Atlanta region. As I think about our most pressing challenges my Chamber President hat is tightly secured to my head. What I love about my job is that I get to be engaged in everything that I’m passionate about; education, policy that impacts our communities, eliminating health disparities, increasing economic development opportunities , and creating more socio-economic opportunities for families to build generational wealth.
What I do know for sure is that I want to be a part of the movement that positively changes our region and DeKalb County. Harry S Truman once said “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”. When I look at the future of our region I know it’s in the hands of many including mine.
Photographed by : Paul Biagui Directed by: Maryan Aiken for PaperGlass