Kate Lilly is a Children's Auction Champion Quietly Giving from the Heart
Updated: Oct 19
Kate Lilly is fueled by empathy and emotion.
She’s the kind of person who can be brought to tears by a powerful commercial, and she supports the Auction because she feels the weight of children in need on her heart. She wants to help.
The assist Kate offers our organization isn’t flashy or easy for others to witness, though. Kate very quietly puts her graphic design and brand development skills to work behind the scenes, producing materials Auction leaders use to raise awareness—everything from the logo to the website to brochures, advertisements and videos the Auction releases.
“I like to be behind the curtain,” she says.
The owner of Lilly Designs, Kate loves creating, tweaking and maintaining organizational brands. She’s the person who creates the look and feel of the marketing materials put out by businesses like Patrick’s Pub, Gunstock, MB Tractor & Equipment, Fratello’s Italian Grille and Homestead Restaurant & Tavern, JMG Marketing, The Downtown Gym, Lakes Region Community Services and the Meredith Chamber of Commerce.
She is the overseer of these organization brands and makes sure that all uses of the logos and other corporate materials are appropriate and consistent.
“I love the flexibility of running my own business,” she says. “I like to work, so I’m constantly working, but it’s my brand, and I’m representing myself while I also represent other brands. I love my work so much, and I have fun doing it.”
Getting to where Kate is in her career, in business for herself, took time. She lived in the Lakes Region until she was 10 years old and then moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1992 with her family. She went to college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and also lived in California for a time.
Sometime around 2009, Kate returned to the Lakes Region and began working for what was then known as Meadowbrook, now the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford, serving as an assistant to RJ Harding and then moving to the Partnership department, creating graphically appealing proposals for future sponsors and partners of the venue.
“RJ enforced my solid work ethic and helped me advance my design skills. I credit him with a lot of my business development,” she says. “He taught me how to work hard and provide a quality product.”
Around 2015, Allan Beetle, co-owner of Patrick’s Pub, approached a leader at Meadowbrook and got permission to offer Kate freelance design work. Allan was kicking off a new event at the restaurant and wanted Kate’s help branding it. “My initial projects with Allan gave me the encouragement I needed to kick off being self-employed,” Kate says. About a year later, Kate left Meadowbrook—on great terms—and started Lilly Designs.
While working at Meadowbrook, Kate got involved with the Auction, taking an hour-long shift each year to answer the phones. Because RJ and his wife, Bridget, were so deeply involved in the Auction, Kate had an up-close-and-personal view of their volunteerism as well as the inner workings of the Auction. “It was present in my life from the moment I moved back here,” she says.
When Kate began working on her own, Allan got her involved with re-branding the former Pub Mania event, which raised funds for the Auction, and, as the years passed, she began helping the Auction directly. She creates marketing materials the organization needs to communicate important messages, edits and maintains the website and is the core creator of the branding of The Challenge, the event that replaced Pub Mania during and after the pandemic.
Kate is also a member of The Lakers fundraising team as part of The Challenge.
Kate does discounted work for other area nonprofits, including the Belknap County Conservation District, New Hampshire Society of Genealogists, New Hampshire Association of Conservation Districts, Meredith Veterans Memorial Project and the Meredith Library Fund.
“My time is what I want to give back to this community,” she says. “There are so many cheerleaders for the community, and it feels great to be among them.
“I live a modest, frugal life,” she adds. “My husband, Cody, is also a small business owner, and while I can’t give thousands of dollars a year, I can give thousands of dollars’ worth of my time. Allowing that money to stay within the organization to be spent elsewhere. Being a part of this community is uplifting, and the people here are uplifting. I feel very grateful that I’m able to give and be a part of something larger than myself.”
Kate and Cody live in Gilford with their two beloved dogs and two cherished cats.
Interview done by Janice Beetle Books.