Kelly Patz traveled an unusual route to the North Central Chamber of Commerce.
Back in July 2010, Patz and her significant other, Mike Bedford, and the couple’s son, Damon, packed up their belongings in Fair Oaks, Calif. and moved to Rhode Island. Bedford was in search of better job opportunities, and the pair settled down in Johnston.
Two months later, Patz made a splash in her new town, baking an apple cranberry pie that won first prize in the 2010 North Central Chamber of Commerce Apple Festival’s Apple Pie Baking Contest. Her victory, and ongoing conversations with NCCC President Deborah Ramos, paid dividends, as Patz recently signed on at the Chamber’s events coordinator.
“Kelly was a huge help for last year’s Apple Festival,” Ramos said. “That was our 25th anniversary Apple Festival for which she agreed to chair the Apple Pie Baking competition.”
Although Patz didn’t win the Blue Ribbon for the best apple pie, she did place third and later came out second overall for the Best of the Best contest that featured winners of nearly all 25 past contest winners. Around the same time, in September 2012, Ramos mentioned that the Chamber was planning to hire another office staffer.
Patz, who is primarily a stay-at-home mom, had begun working in the apple shack at Dame Farm when her family moved here. She decided that the part-time position would work for her and for the Chamber.
In her role as events coordinator, Patz will organize such events the NCCC’s monthly Business After Hours and other networking events like the Women in Business Council’s Lipstick Luncheons.
“This will help Deb devote more time to her duties,” Patz said. “It will help get stuff off her plate so she can concentrate on marketing, membership, et cetera.”
Patz replaces Leslie Anderson, who Ramos said “did an extraordinary job in her capacity as our marketing and membership director.” Anderson left the Chamber for a full-time position elsewhere.
In her new position, Patz said she would also “urge people to join the Chamber and come to our events and have fun.”
“This is all about helping your fellow business professionals,” she said.
Although she’s still learning the ropes, Patz said her goal will be to plan networking events that appeal to a broad spectrum of people.
“If you don’t have good and fun-filled events, no one will come,” Patz said. “It will be my job to make sure that doesn’t happen. Basically, I’ll be planning all kinds events like the Business After Hours and other important networking events.”
Planning events is nothing new for Patz. She did that back in California as well as this past September when she organized an apple pie baking contest.
“I’ll probably be doing that again this year, as well,” said Patz, who has a degree in interior design that she earned at Maric College in California. “This is going to be fun.”
When asked if she plans to enter the NCCC’s 26th annual Apple Pie Baking contest, Patz wasn’t sure. But if she does, she probably won’t change her style like she did the last time around.
“I’ll probably stick with what helped me win in 2010,” she said.
This past year, she baked two pies – an apple cranberry and a caramel apple. Her 11-year-old son Damon, who is in the sixth grade at Ferri Middle School, holds distinction of his own, having won his age division in two consecutive apple pie eating contests.
Ramos is glad to have the family in town, as part of the Apple Festival and now as part of the Chamber.
“I’m sure glad Kelly and company landed here,” she said.