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Salem Rising Star: Katie Costic – Charting a Path of Innovation and Community Leadership

Written by Christian F. Hanson on Dec. 12th, 2023
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SALEM, Ore. — Katie Costic, a name now synonymous with dynamic leadership in Salem, has swiftly risen through the ranks of professional success, leveraging her local roots and innovative spirit. Her journey, marked by a blend of passion for the community and a strategic approach to career development, offers a unique perspective on success in today’s fast-paced professional landscape.

A Salem native, Costic’s educational journey through local institutions laid the groundwork for her profound connection with the community. Opting to stay local for college, she attended Willamette University, initially exploring a medical career. However, a pivotal visit to Portland’s Pearl District ignited her passion for apparel design, leading to a transfer to the Art Institute of Portland. Costic’s educational pivot underscores the importance of adaptability and following one’s passion, a recurring theme in her career.

Costic’s professional trajectory is a testament to her multifaceted skills. From managing a corporate-owned photography studio to spearheading marketing at Arbuckle Costic Architects, she has demonstrated an exceptional ability to adapt and thrive in diverse roles. This versatility is a key characteristic of successful professionals in the modern workplace.

In March 2023, Costic assumed the role of Program Director for the McLaran Leadership Foundation, a position aligning with her passion for leadership development. “Both my husband and I proudly contribute to the non-profit sector, uniting our efforts to achieve meaningful impact,” she shares, highlighting the power of collaborative work in achieving community goals.

Costic’s significant professional accomplishments include her pivotal role in the 2018 Salem Keizer Public Schools Bond. She successfully advocated for local design firms’ involvement, significantly impacting the local economy. Costic reflects, “This strategic intervention not only rectified an imbalance in the procurement process but also played a vital role in stimulating our local economic growth.”

Her journey hasn’t been without challenges. Costic candidly discusses the pressures of working in a family business and the need to establish individual merit. “While the family legacy opens doors, it also intensifies the expectation to prove oneself independently,” she notes, addressing a common struggle in family-run businesses.

The impact of mentors and role models in Costic’s career is substantial. She credits individuals like Ron Hays, Dick Withnell, and Bonnie Milletto for their guidance and support, showcasing the importance of mentorship in professional growth.

Key to Costic’s success is her willingness to embrace uncomfortable situations and ask difficult questions. “It’s often in those feared or challenging environments that the most significant personal and professional growth occurs,” she advises young professionals, emphasizing the value of stepping out of one’s comfort zone.

Costic remains committed to continuous learning and growth. Her approach to balancing professional and personal life, particularly as a working mother, is a relatable challenge for many. She stresses the importance of a supportive work environment that recognizes family’s role in professional success.

Looking ahead, Costic aims to impact her industry through the McLaran Leadership Foundation, focusing on continuous improvement and delivering impactful experiences. Her vision is to influence and contribute to the personal and professional growth of those around her.

Katie Costic’s story is one of resilience, adaptability, and commitment to community—a beacon for young professionals navigating the complexities of modern career paths. Her journey illustrates that with passion, strategic thinking, and a willingness to embrace challenges, one can leave a lasting legacy in their community and beyond.

Christian F. Hanson

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