Marlaina Gayle (Betnaza) has progressed through three careers - journalism, communications and business -- since her graduation from J.L. Crowe in 1975. She first became involved with the media when she worked as a disc jockey for CJAT (now KBS) in Trail during high school and in the summer. After graduation she attended the British Columbia Institutee of Technology where she obtained a diploma in broadcast communications. Her career progressed from CJAT to CKNW in New Westminster. After more radio experience at CKPG in Prince George, CKXL in Calgary and C-FAX in Victoria, she moved on to television with CBC. An avid traveler (launched by her mother who sent her to Europe on a Crowe school trip), Gayle took a year off from journalism in 1985 to sail the Caribbean.
In 1988, she became the Vancouver Province consumer reporter/ columnist. It was there, in 1989, that her story on car dealers and the hidden profits car dealers can tack on when you're signing a deal won her the B.C. Newspapers Best News Story of the Year award. During this time she also appeared on BCTV's Noon NewsHour and CBC NewsWorld as a consumer expert. Then in 1996 she became press secretary for Gordon Campbell while he was leader of the official opposition. The experience convinced her that party politics doesn't fit the needs of Canadians anymore. "I believe voters and politicians are finding it increasingly difficult to be confined to a single platform," Gayle said. "Our lives are more complex now. I don't think the process will change soon, and I don't even know how it should change, but I don't think it fits our needs anymore." She added, "As voters, we tend to see politicians as another breed but they are a reflection of us. There are some who have a lot of common sense and not much political experience but make good decisions. Some who are very smart, but can't get their message out. People who are great talkers, but don't produce. And people who quietly spend an enormous amount of time working and make progress."
After two years as press secretary, Gayle again hit the road, traveling to Southeast Asia and India and eventually to New York where her husband Greg Kinch had moved his business. She met Kinch when he was a photographer for The Province. They are now partners in Greg Kinch Photography, which operates in New York and Miami. Gayle has been interested in business since she was 14, when her father George Betnaza became self-employed as Trail's first registered massage practitioner. Her mother, Anna Betnaza, ran the business. Her job as press secretary was also very important in developing her business career. "It showed me that I could use my journalism skills in different ways and taught me strategic planning. When I started to work with Greg I realized that I wasn't just a journalist anymore. I had the understanding and tools to create a business plan, a marketing plan, a communications plan." Greg Kinch Photography's clients include Pitney Bowes, Coca Cola, Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad) and Olympus America. Kinch specializes in photographing people on location. His assignments includes photographing CEOs as well as their customers and employees. A 2003 project photographed for Olympus America won a Mercury Award in the brochure category.
Gayle's most recent achievement is being named the 2004 Member of the Year by the New York City chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Gayle, who held the elected position of secretary on the board of directors was awarded the honor for her effort that created a new governance structure and new bylaws. The chapter's previous structure was preventing solid growth. For example, every committee chair was automatically a director on the board. As the organization expanded, this wasn't practical, so Gayle took the initiative to find a better process and to "make it easier to become involved from a member point of view without walking yourself into this huge deal." "Members asked me how I knew how to do that," she said. "I always say that the American Constitution guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness but the Canadian Constitution guarantees peace, order and good government, which in our case means peace, order and process! I always tell them it's part of being Canadian - you sort of know how things work. We like process, we like foundation, we like infrastructure. We like things to go from A to D via B and C." Process is also a lesson Gayle learned as a journalist covering hundreds of city council and school board meetings as well as sessions of the B.C. Legislature.
Gayle is currently working on her new business, Studio a Go Go, which is geared toward small businesses. It will provide digital photography and design telling the story and capturing the image of a business. In 2003 she also received a Galaxy Award recognizing Women of the Future from the New York Women's Agenda. According to Gayle, the key to success is persistence. "I think that works with everything!" she said.
Trail Daily News Sept/04