The key to a successful Craft Talk at Rotary is to have your fellow Rotarians walk away with a tangible sense of you and your family. The purpose of it is for Club members to find out how they and the Craft Talkers fit into, and form a unit within, the family of Rotary.
The Rotary Club of Santa Monica program fulfilled just that, with Rotarians learning more about the newer members’ personal and professional lives Friday, Oct. 30.
First up was Kathy Shepard.
Shepard grew up a military brat and continued in her adult life to find places to go.
She’s a public relations veteran, now self-employed as a corporate communications and public relations expert.
Shepard’s trajectory has always been upward. She got her start doing PR for KTTV, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and independent consulting. Soon, she was director of PR for the Hilton Hotels Corp., first joining in 1993 at the Las Vegas Hilton and later Hilton Gaming, where she was responsible for 13 casino gaming properties in Nevada and New Jersey.
Her final coup came when she became vice president of corporate communications for the Fortune 500 Company.
The hotel industry was where she honed her crisis management skills.
“I cannot tell you when you work at a hotel company what kind of crisis you might run into on a daily basis. I had, unfortunately, murders, I had suicides, I’ve had mold,” Shepard said.
But it hasn’t been all dire straits. Shepard also worked in the entertainment industry, helping to launch shows like “21 Jump Street” and “The Simpsons.”
A fun tidbit about Shepard is that she’s met two presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. She met President Clinton while she was very pregnant, and he used her pregnancy to cut his talk short, saying that he’d better hurry up because Kathy was about to pop. He cleverly said he didn’t want to be blamed if she didn’t get to the hospital on time. And she met President Obama after winning a 15-minute meet-and-greet. She and her daughter were able to fly to San Francisco for the opportunity. A die-hard football fan, Shepard lives with her husband and daughter in Santa Monica.
Next up was Palle Jensen, who hails from Denmark and speaks with a thick, good Dutch accent. A member of the Club for over a year now, Jensen files under the manufacturing classification. He got his start in the industry at a prestigious engineering company specializing in providing high-tech plastic solutions for industrial applications. While attending a four-year master’s program, Jensen met his wife.
“I stayed in what I would call the ‘corporate life’ until 1994 with the same company that provide high-tech plastic solutions for industrial applications,” Jensen told Rotarians. But it was when the company “got into trouble” that he decided to head up his own venture.
With his strong industrial network of contacts, Jensen started another business in Denmark. He has since been CEO and owner of Electronic House UAB, Metalco Baltic UAB, and Libra Cable Technologies, Inc.
In 2004, his wife and he established the IBO-based Vilnius International School with two other international families. The school is considered one of the best schools in Lithuania today and a top school in the Baltic’s.
Two years ago, he and his wife, along with their children, invested in a different venture: moving to the U.S.
“We made a business plan, launched a business, started it up, and moved here,” he said.
Their business continues to grow today.
He’s also president of the Danish American Chamber of Commerce in Southern California.
“One thing I’ve learned is hard work. Hard work, hard work is extremely important. That’s also why I’m standing here today,” Jensen said.
For more information on the members of the Santa Monica Rotary Club, visit rotaryclubofsantamonica.org.