Preston Hollow’s Kristen Gibbins is executive director of marketing and strategy for NorthPark Center, what she calls the only “shopping museum” in the world. Gibbins began working with the Nancy Nasher-David Haemisegger family in 2005 when she was hired by Raymond Nasher to fill a marketing and public relations role at the Nasher Sculpture Center. After freelancing for NorthPark in 2008 as a publicist, Gibbins began working with Nancy Nasher and her daughter Sarah Haemisegger in 2015 to create the center’s 50th anniversary project, “50 Years of Giving,” in which NorthPark gave to 50 nonprofit organizations over the course of 50 days. Today, Gibbins oversees marketing, advertising, public relations and events for the center, under NorthPark owners Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger. In addition, Gibbins is serving a second term as a baroness for Cattle Baron’s Ball, the world’s No. 1 single-day fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. An avid tennis player, she captains several teams at Brookhaven Country Club. Gibbins lives with her husband, Reed, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, their two boys, Barrett, 11, and Grayson, 8, who attend St. Rita Catholic School, and beagles, Buddy and Beau.
What is your “third place” in the neighborhood, after home and work?
When I’m not working, or playing tennis, I can be found at one of our neighborhood Central Markets. My husband is a fantastic amateur chef. We enjoy perusing the produce and meat sections together as a family in search of items on our grocery list. I always look forward to their “Passport” promotion when they offer foods from different parts of the world.
What is your favorite image of the neighborhood?
I enjoy seeing the development of community projects that bring people together in our neighborhood such as The Grove Church and Northaven Trail.
What accomplishment are you proud of in your career?
One of my proudest moments was at the press conference for NorthPark’s 50th anniversary in 2015 when I watched Nancy on the stage sharing the announcement about our “50 Years of Giving” initiative. It made me so proud to see her shine in that moment.
What misconceptions do people have about your business?
Sometimes people ask if brick-and-mortar retail is here to stay. The answer is yes. NorthPark is here to stay. People will always crave connectivity and in-person experiences.
Besides work, what are you proud of?
It sounds cliché, but I am proud of my kids. They have kind hearts. I admire their creativity.
Photo by Danny Fulgencio
What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
The greatest gift to me is genuine, meaningful relationships. Throughout my career, I have had the great fortune to be surrounded by people who advocate for me. It’s a gift I try to return for others whenever possible.
Who is your greatest influence?
Nancy Nasher is by far the smartest, hardest working woman I know. She is also the most thoughtful and caring.
What’s your favorite spot at NorthPark?
My favorite spot is underneath Mark di Suvero’s towering bright orange “Ad Astra” sculpture in NorthCourt. The title of the piece means “to the stars.” I appreciate its positive, uplifting message, which is one of strength and perseverance.
What neighborhood nonprofit do you support?
I am honored to be a member of the Cattle Baron’s Ball for the second year and thrilled to have NorthPark involved in the initiative. An incredible group of 100 ladies works tirelessly to raise money for the American Cancer Society. It’s the number one, single-day fundraiser in the world for ACS. Last year, my colleague and fellow baroness, Catharine Flagg, along with our NorthPark team led by Meredith Hays, and retailers, helped to raise nearly a half million dollars in auction items and funds for this initiative. We continue the tradition this year and invite the public to participate through our “NorthPark Gives Back” weekend from Sept. 20-22, where many of our retailers will donate a percentage back to the organization.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I get up early to play tennis before I head to the office. Once I’m at work, I hunker down and stay focused for whatever comes my way, usually eating lunch at my desk. When I’m home, I focus on my kids’ activities and their homework needs. I’m still trying to figure it all out.
How do you relax?
Relaxing is overrated. I like to be productive. My husband cooks for us every night, so I find it relaxing to watch him master his skills and partake in his tasty dishes.
If you could have dinner with any living person, who would it be?
I would pass this opportunity on to my husband to have dinner with renowned chef Thomas Keller. Reed regularly watches Keller’s “Master Classes” to learn elevated cooking techniques. I can only imagine the conversation they would have and the meals I would receive in return.
Who is one of your favorite artists?
One of my favorite artists is Joel Shapiro, whose sculpture “20 Elements” is on view in Nordstrom Court at NorthPark. We had the pleasure to visit with him a few years ago when he invited Nancy Nasher to his studio. He was welcoming and showed us the materials and vibrant paints he uses. Besides the fact that he is an incredible artist, he is fun, funny and a great conversationalist.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Have fun. Life is short so don’t be afraid to be yourself and live a little.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.