By Crystal Harrell
With her official title as the Executive Director of the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce, Katie Stice is all about serving the Coachella Valley. Her job involves promoting the growth of local businesses to create more prosperous opportunities for the city’s budding industries and citizens.
Stice was born and raised in San Diego until her family relocated to Indio in 1993 during her sophomore year of high school. She was no stranger to the Coachella Valley, having previously visited family who lived in the desert and taking swim lessons at Pawley Pool in Indio. Stice went on to graduate Indio High School in 1996.
The circumstances that brought Stice’s family to the desert were less than ideal. Her mother had left an abusive relationship and the Coachella Valley offered many great opportunities for her to pursue her career in healthcare as a nurse.
“This was the point in our lives when we needed to start over… We came to the desert with very little, actually. It was scary. My sisters and I are fortunate to have a strong mother who made the changes needed to live safe and healthy lives from then on,” stated Stice. “Anyone in domestic violence situations will tell you how hard it is to break the cycle of violence. We are survivors and proud to say that my mother and the three of us daughters have all accomplished this through hard work, shelter help and community resources.”
After high school, Stice pursued Early Childhood Development at College of the Desert, but her career path changed its course when she decided to study Nonprofit Management through the Western Association of Chamber Executives and received her Accredited Chamber Executive (ACE) certificate after five years of conferences and course credits.
Stice then earned an IOM (Institute for Organizational Management) after four years of the US Chamber’s Institute program at Loyola Marymount University. She now serves on the Board of Regents for the US Chamber and has been able to be a presenter at WACE conferences.
Before joining the Chamber, Stice worked for the YMCA of the Desert as a site director and Children’s Discovery Museum as their operational director, knowing that she was community-minded, focused, and wanting to make even more of an impact. Her first Chamber position was at the Palm Desert Chamber twelve years ago under the impression that she would only be there for a year or two until she decided what career path to pursue.
“This industry has been both fun and challenging; it has broken my spirit and renewed me altogether. It has given me new opportunities to grow and lead and make positive changes. The Chamber of Commerce life gave me something bigger than myself to believe in,” said Stice.
Some ways that the Chamber kickstarts that positive change is by holding flagship events and monthly networking events. The Chamber aims to educate, support, and assist small businesses through their successes and challenges. Awards program celebrations are observed for this reason, to recognize the best of the valley and assist those just getting started.
“It is amazing to watch the dreams of small business owners come true. I help them learn about new labor laws or tax laws, create the atmosphere to connect with their community, and make new meaningful relationships with other business leaders, influencers and law makers,” stated Stice.
Some highlights of Stice’s career so far relate directly to how the community has supported her and her development. She received a scholarship to Leadership Coachella Valley in 2000, was nominated for the Top 40 Under 40 for Palm Springs Life Magazine in 2010, received an Angel on Earth Award from Angel Light Academy, and was one ofCV Weekly’s Top 10 Most Influential and Interesting Women in 2018.
Other highlights include receiving 5 Star Accreditation with her team for the Palm Desert Area Chamber two times over, building and launching the GCV Small Business EXPO, publishing the first directory for the Greater CV Chamber, and managing the best Nurses Appreciation Luncheon for the Rancho Mirage Chamber in its 14-year history.
“The people that make up our great community are my favorite thing about the Coachella Valley hands down. Their dedication and care for a stronger economy, great services, and for meaningful change just blows my mind. It’s a community of trailblazers and game changers that inspire me,” shared Stice.
When she’s not working at the Chamber, Stice enjoys a simple life with her husband and dog. She has also been honing her speaking skills with various groups on leadership, such as being the keynote speaker for Marriott on International Women’s Day and kicking off the Leaders in Training Series with the Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City
“[The Boys and Girls Club] is where I shared my past circumstances and how I overcame some obstacles in order to give back and live my best life. I like to share my story because I believe we all have it in us to do better, reach dreams, and become the best version of ourselves,” explained Stice.
As far as role models are concerned, Stice’s husband John is a person she looks up to when it comes to leading by example. He is the manager of the Bellatrix restaurant at Classic Club in Palm Desert and upholds the family motto of “work, work, work.”
“He is dedicated, determined, and has a heart of gold. I’m lucky to live with my role model! Whenever I am having a scruple moment, we talk it out. We both like to live life by doing the right thing – even when that is the hard thing to do. John is definitely the better half,” said Stice.
Although she has made a name for herself within the Coachella Valley, Stice still has learned many lessons along the way. “When in doubt, turn down the volume. Watch what people do in times of tragedy and triumph – this will always hold more weight than what they say. It will reveal true character,” advised Stice.
In the future, Stice wishes to remain in the Coachella Valley continuing her work to better the community. “I’ll keep living this great big life, trying to keep up with the excitement and adventure. It’s hard to imagine leaving the valley, so I hope to remain here, continuing to make great things happen if I can – perhaps on a larger scale,” concluded Stice.
Follow Stice on her new public figure page on Facebook to keep up-to-date with her adventures. You can also find her under #ChamberKatie on LinkedIn and Instagram.