Q&A: Kara Newport of Filoli

Filoli’s CEO shares something unexpected she’s done on the job at the renowned Peninsula historic estate, what gets her out of a bad mood and advice she’d give her younger self.

What originally brought you to the Peninsula?
Filoli! When I heard about the opportunity to work in a place that had a historic house and garden and access to natural lands, I immediately threw my hat in.

What do you wish everyone knew about Filoli?
Many people only come for one reason or season—spring to see the tulips or holidays for the lights. Every day offers a different sort of magic.

What’s something unexpected you’ve had to do for your job?
I spend a lot of time talking about Santa! Last year, Santa was “stuck in a snowstorm” and we had to find an emergency Santa stand-in among our talented team.

Where did you grow up and what was great about it?
I grew up in a small rural town in Ohio. Growing up on a farm is an irreplaceable experience.

What song reminds you of high school?
“Licensed to Ill” by the Beastie Boys takes me right back to a band trip in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. (That sentence says so much!)

What’s your favorite quote?
“Change is the only constant.” I thrive in a change-based environment, which I have learned is not comfortable for many people.

What’s guaranteed to get you out of a bad mood?
A brisk walk or a chat with a friend—the ideal is both combined!

What is the dumbest way you’ve been hurt?
In anticipation of turning 50, I decided I was going to go back to my youth and play soccer. In one of my first games, I stepped in a gopher hole and tore my meniscus.

Any memorable celebrity encounters at Filoli?
Generally, I prefer to give celebrities their space when they are visiting. But I literally and unintentionally wandered into Joan Baez’s photo shoot at the Bourn Gate near the sunken garden. I definitely had a fangirl moment!

What’s your favorite room in Filoli’s historic house?
The library. I like to imagine being curled up in a cozy chair with a crackling fire, watching the sun set.

What’s the dream you keep putting off?
I want to visit all of the National Parks.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Hold onto all the things that you love. When I was a younger, career-driven woman, I believed that I had to make sacrifices in order to aggressively pursue my career. Now I find myself returning to those passions—art, dance, sports—as I make space for myself.