Prior to joining the NAAA, Gates led membership marketing for the U.S. Naval Institute, which boasts more than 50,000 members and a 143 year history of naval excellence in writing and publication. In the years prior to her work with the Institute, Gates directed corporate marketing efforts for a top-tier federal contractor whose portfolio included clients such as the FDA, HHS, CDC, and NOAA. She also spent several years in design and deployment of biometric systems and identity management programs for the U.S. Army's Biometric Task Force.
Gates graduated from West Virginia University in 2002 and currently lives in Annapolis, where she is active in the sailing community, various volunteer organizations, and an ardent fan of Navy sports.