When she’s asked to talk about herself and her career, Kate Gainer finds herself speaking more about the role of the pharmacy industry and its future in Iowa. 

“We’re really expanding the public’s perception of what pharmacists can do,” said Gainer, who took the reins of the state association two years ago. “We’re changing the emphasis from a product-driven profession to a service-driven profession, and to patients recognizing pharmacists as one of their health care providers and part of the health care team.” 

A key advocacy goal that she helped the association achieve in the past year was legislation that expanded pharmacists’ ability to provide flu shots to children and adolescents, not just adults.  

Gainer’s career began with an internship that sort of went viral. She had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin’s pharmacy program when a one-year internship became available at the Iowa Pharmacy Association. She figured she would move back to Wisconsin after the internship ended, but instead, she was asked to join the association’s staff. 

“If you had asked me 10 years ago where I’d be, Des Moines, Iowa, certainly didn’t make the list,” she said. “And working with a pharmacy association, let alone being the CEO, was not in any plan that I had.”  

Gainer observed that she started the two most important jobs of her life – association CEO and new mother – within a span of two months. She and her husband, Bob, now have a 2-year-old son, Ray, and a 1-year-old daughter, Genevieve. 

“I have a very supportive husband; he’s an attorney here in town,” she said. “We have a very 50-50 parenting setup, so it allows me to be very involved in my professional career as well as having a family.” 

One of her favorite books is “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg. “It’s helped give me the confidence that women can have success in their professional lives and be a good mom,” she said. 

Reasons she’s a Forty:

• She plays a significant role in protecting the health and well-being of Iowans. 

• Her service on professional boards and committees, such as the Patient Safety Committee of the Iowa/Nebraska Primary Care Association and the Leadership and Advisory Council of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy 

• She helped secure funding to advance a statewide medication disposal program and health literacy and education programs.

• On the board for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Central Iowa, she chaired the Walk for a Cure committee in 2011 and 2012. 

• She balances her professional career with family.