You sense it instantly. Kathie Gonzalez, the whip-smart, striking dynamo standing in front of you, is one of those people; you know, the type who does everything well—very well—to the inevitable annoyance of everyone in their orbit. But somehow, remarkably, the longtime travel public relations virtuoso instead elicits the opposite reaction: devotion. In a word, Kathie Gonzalez is a boss.
I became friends with the Saratoga Springs native—she was born in Saratoga Hospital—shortly after I met her husband, Alexander Gonzalez (Alex and I share a Cuban heritage and a love for the Miami Dolphins). As Kathie and I got to know each other over time, I kept thinking how congenial, engaging, attractive, professional and funny she was and I wanted to make sure as many people got to know her as possible.
Gonzalez received a Bachelor of Arts from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master’s from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lives on a picturesque farm in Saratoga with Alex; her children, Sean, 14, and Chloe, 9; and her beloved “adopted rottie,” Tobey. Every time you run into her out on the town or out grabbing a quick cup of coffee, the result is the same: You’re greeted with a huge smile and instant engagement. The best people always make you feel as if you’re the most important person in the world. Mrs. Gonzalez has this particular skill down to a science. And she wears it well.
I caught up with the busy executive—current clients include New Orleans & Company, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Williamsburg Tourism Council and many more—and asked her a few questions I wanted answers to. She, predictably, didn’t disappoint.
Kathie Gonzalez is indeed one of those people. Lucky for us, she’s ours once again.
Are people confused by what exactly public relations entails?
One hundred percent! It’s often said that the business of public relations has a public relations problem. Many confuse PR with advertising or marketing—not the same thing—so when someone asks me what I do, I’ve learned to simply tell them I make my clients look good by coordinating interviews and providing information about them to the media. That usually works. And then they ask me for travel advice.
Did you go through any sort of cultural adjustment when you met Alex’s Cuban family?
Yes and no. I love to travel and learn about other cultures, and have always been intrigued by Cuba, so I was excited to meet his family and learn how to cook authentic Cuban food! I always said I had the perfect relationship with my in-laws: Alex’s mom spoke very little English, I spoke very little Spanish! [Laughs]
You love Saratoga because…
It’s home! I left at 18 and thought I’d never return, but now that I’m back with my own family, I appreciate all the city has to offer—and, it’s a great place to raise kids.
You wish Saratoga would change…
Saratoga has an amazing variety of restaurants, but I’d love to see Cuban food added to the culinary landscape. One of the first gifts my husband gave me was a Cuban cookbook—subtlety is not his strong suit! [Laughs]
PR is an awesome career because…
There’s never a dull moment. The very best thing about working with clients in the travel industry is the actual travel. The perks of my job are pretty fantastic.