The Society of American Florists will soon have a new senior vice president on its team — a person with targeted experience in some of the key growth areas identified by the 135-year-old trade association in its strategic plan.
Katie Butler, most recently vice president of communications for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, officially starts at SAF on Nov. 4. To many people in the floral industry, however, she’s already a familiar face: Butler worked as a writer and editor for SAF from 1999 to 2002, and she’ll be on-site next week at SAF Amelia Island 2019 to reconnect with industry colleagues, engage in future-planning with SAF’s volunteer leaders and establish new relationships with forward-thinking floral professionals.
Kate Penn, SAF’s CEO, said Butler’s experience, intelligence and familiarity with the industry make her a natural fit for the association, which is in the early stages of implementing its strategic plan.
“At the top of SAF’s new-hire wish list is a seasoned association executive with a broad range of experience across all areas of an association — someone who can bring new, proven strategies to SAF, weigh in on existing strategies and be a sounding board — as well as an active participant — in new ones,” said Penn, who will outline SAF’s plan in more detail on Thursday, Sept. 19, during “The State of the Industry — and SAF,” the kick-off presentation at SAF Amelia Island. “I’m excited to have found the perfect executive hire in Katie.”
Penn’s presentation will also air live at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 19 on SAF’s Facebook page.
In her new role, Butler will play a key role in developing strategy and enhancing SAF’s member services, communications, content, education, events and government advocacy. Her arrival in November will align with the departure of Drew Gruenburg, SAF’s longtime chief operating officer, who retires in December.
Butler earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science at Ohio Wesleyan University. While at SAF in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, she quickly established herself as a tenacious reporter, detail-oriented editor and entrepreneurial thinker: It was Butler who brainstormed the creation of SAF’s Wednesday E-Brief, the association’s long-running weekly digital newsletter.
“Katie is someone who stays laser-focused on current priorities and strategies and at the same time has a vision for how to continue evolving what we do,” Penn said. “That kind of mindset is exactly what we need to help our industry adapt and evolve and stay relevant.”
At the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Butler managed a $1 million annual budget, overseeing a staff of six and an outside firm handling $1.5 million in advertising sales. In her 16-year career with the group, she led efforts to position the association as a thought leader within the insurance industry as well as an insurance expert in business-focused media outlets. She also worked closely with the group’s volunteer leadership, chairman and executive committee on special projects including membership recruitment and branding. Butler was a three-time recipient of the association’s “Chairman’s Citation,” an honor given to one staff member each year by volunteer leaders for outstanding contributions to the association.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to return to SAF in this new role,” said Butler. “From my previous tenure at the association, I know the industry is full of hardworking, creative and entrepreneurial people — I will enjoy working for and with them again. And I look forward to collaborating with SAF’s volunteer leadership and staff to implement the association’s new strategic plan to ensure both SAF and the floral industry continue to grow and thrive.”
Butler lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband, Mike, and two sons, Heath, 10 and Trent, 8.
Anne Holub is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.