Catherine Soper, communications and marketing director of the Port of Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Catherine Soper, communications and marketing director of the Port of Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Catherine Soper: On board for Port of Everett’s growth spurt

Twelve years ago, this communications and marketing director launched her port career as an intern.

This is one of 12 finalists for The Herald Business Journal’s annual Emerging Leaders awards for 2022. The winner will be named at an event on April 27.

Catherine Soper, 34

Communications and marketing director, Port of Everett

Catherine Soper’s career at the Port of Everett began with a temporary job.

Soper was fresh out of college in 2009 when she accepted a three-month public relations internship with the port.

Except for a brief hiatus during the Great Recession, her tenure now spans nearly dozen years.

Today Soper oversees a team of four as the port’s director of communications and marketing.

“I see myself as a team player,” Soper said of her role.

There’s a lot to crow about.

The Port of Everett is the third-largest container port in Washington, supporting $29 billion annually in trade.

Its marina, with 2,300 boat slips, is the largest public marina on the West Coast.

Development of the port’s industrial and commercial real estate, including Waterfront Place, a 65-acre mixed-use development, has accelerated in recent years.

Soper is an integral part of the Port of Everett’s success, an Emerging Leaders nominator wrote: “She is hard-working, thoughtful, and inspiring in her work. Even though she hasn’t always had a leadership role at the port, she always made a huge impact by being able to get things done with the support of staff above and below her through her influence.”

In 2014, Soper was promoted and became the port’s public affairs specialist.

In the following years, the port underwent a major growth spurt.

Soper was on-hand and often responsible for promoting and organizing dozens of groundbreakings, public open houses and ribbon-cuttings.

In the past few years the port has welcomed Hotel Indigo and the 236-unit Waterfront Place Apartments and has ushered in new restaurant and retail development. The expansion of the working waterfront continues. Soper and her team are key players. “I just feel so lucky that I get to be part of this community and get to be part of change,” Soper said.

She brought the port up to speed on social media, helped make changes to the website and went to work expanding and coordinating the port’s now more than 75 annual waterfront events.

Challenges arose for Soper, a mother of two, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The past two years have been a challenge for many working parents and, specifically, working women,” Soper said. “You push through the obstacles and persevere.”

The learning curve has been steep, she said. “Every day you’re pivoting. Every day you’re being flexible, seeing what other folks are doing.”

In particular, Soper drew inspiration from her boss, Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber.

“She’s a working mom, a powerhouse and a really good example of a leader,” Soper said of Lefeber.

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @JanicePods.

The annual Emerging Leaders award by The Herald Business Journal seeks to highlight and celebrate people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. This year’s partners in the award are HeraldMedia, Leadership Snohomish County, Leadership Launch and Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Co-sponsors are Gaffney Construction, Inflection Wealth Management and the Port of Everett.

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