Kathy Gornik to Chair CEA Board

During the week of October 14, Thiel Audio Products president Kathy Gornik completed an unprecedented triple play.

A longtime volunteer for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Gornik was elected chair of the CEA's Board of Directors and Executive Board for the coming year. Her election makes her the first woman, the first executive of a small manufacturing company, and the first representative of the high-end audio community to serve in that position.

"In addition to being the first female to serve as chair, Kathy will provide us with the point of view of a small-business executive," said CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro. Gornik will assume her new leadership role on January 1, 2003.

Speaking from Thiel headquarters in Lexington, KY, Gornik said she was "honored to be recognized by [her] colleagues" and pledged to use her new position to promote the interests of all of the CEA's members. Gornik also recognizes that, by default, more attention may be given to high-end audio as a category, a point she views very positively. "There is a certain natural leverage in my association with Thiel that may benefit the entire specialty audio industry," she remarked, "but I will be working for the CEA as a whole."

The organization has members from a diverse array of sub-industries, from makers of switches and subassemblies to companies producing computer, telecommunications, and television equipment, and, of course, audio gear. There are enormous benefits to CEA membership, Gorknik believes. "High-end manufacturers should definitely consider joining CEA," she said. "Now is a great time to join."

A volunteer member of the CEA board for more than a decade, Gornik sees many immediate challenges and opportunities, among them "copyright issues, interoperability standards, the DTV tuner mandate, and non-tariff barriers." The trade association was recently certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), establishing any electrical standard agreed to by the CEA the default ANSI standard, she said.

"The CEA is as vibrant as I have ever seen," she observed. "The membership is growing rapidly. My election is a very strong message about how inclusive the CEA is about serving our industry." It's also a strong validation of the growing power of women in the industry, and helps to legitimize an industry that is virtually invisible to the average American.

When asked if her new CEA responsibilities would interfere with her duties at Thiel, Gornik remarked that she has long spent a "significant" portion of her time on CEA business, and that her company "has already made accommodations." Gornik mentioned several audio industry veterans who she said have made huge contributions as members of the CEA's board, including Lew Johnson of Conrad-Johnson, Stephen Baker of Denon, Steve Caldero of Yamaha, Gary Warzin of Audiophile Systems (the US Arcam distributor), and Kathryn Garrett of Pioneer. They have all "worked tirelessly to advance the audio industry," she said.

In the same election, held during meetings in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, a coastal town south of the city, Mitek Corporation chairman and CEO Loyd Ivey was elected vice chair, and longtime consumer electronics industry executive Jerry Kalov of Kay Associates was re-elected as Industry Executive Advisor, a liaison role between the board and CEA's more than 80 staffers.

Gornik will replace chairman Ronald Stone, who will step down at the end of the year, but will remain on the board. Stone is president of Pioneer Electronics Service, Inc. Other returning members include Peter Lesser, president and CEO of X-10 (USA), Inc. and Recoton chief Robert Borchardt. New board members include Audiovox Electronics Corp. president and CEO Patrick Lavell and GE Interlogix vice president of strategic marketing Duane Paulson, who is also chair of the CEA's TechHome Division.

"In total, we are blessed with an active, dedicated leadership comprised of top industry executives who join together to provide CEA with the vision and direction necessary to help us meet our mission of growing the CE industry," Shapiro said. The CEA announced its election results October 23.

Steve Guttenberg's interview with Kathy Gornik appears on page 59 of the October 2002 issue of Stereophile.