SAN DIEGO -- Kath Rogers, who recently joined the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) board of directors, didn’t have a difficult time falling in love with San Diego. After moving here from Chicago in 2004, she found the climate and cultural richness that have become the city’s trademarks.
Chicago’s loss is San Diego's gain.
With a degree in history from UCSD, Rogers began what would become a dedicated and illustrious track record of advocacy, tutoring students in two of San Diego's low income schools. Since then, she has worked to help pass California Prop 35 (the ban on human trafficking and sex slavery), Prop 2 (humane treatment of animals on factory farms), and is currently working to advocate for clean energy. Thus it is hard to imagine someone more suited, and more proven, to join the HTC board of directors.
The HTC was founded in 2007 with the goal of giving a voice to and enhancing the quality of life for Hillcrest residents, renters and homeowners. The group now oversees a number of committees dedicated to the improvement of the beloved Hillcrest community — Development, Litter/Graffiti, Centennial, Crime and a Steering Committee. Rogers is joining four other directors who help this group foster unity among area residents as well our government representatives.
Rogers speaks with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News about her life and work.
I grew up in the in the heart of Chicago in the Old Town neighborhood.
We read on your bio you’ve been in SD since 2004. What kept you here?
I drove to San Diego from the Midwest in 2004 for the beautiful scenery and climate. I quickly fell in love with many aspects of the city. It is incredible how San Diego can feel like a small town when it is the country's eighth largest city. It is refreshingly livable compared to other large cities. I love running into friends and neighbors while I am walking around Hillcrest. I love being able to dine, shop and hike a canyon -- all in walking distance from my house. I love the Mexican food and the cultural richness of being so close to the border. And, I love that there are countless ways to enjoy nature and be outdoors all year.
You recently joined the board of a group that’s heading into its eighth year of service? Is that a daunting feat?
I would say inspiring rather than daunting. I love working with people who care so much about the community that they volunteer their time to make it better. My favorite part about being on the HTC is getting to know civic-minded and informed community members who take action on the issues they care about. Our chair, Luke Terpstra, has been the HTC's backbone for the past five years, and I learn a lot by watching how he brings people together with his warm, welcoming leadership style.
What are your goals for the Hillcrest Town Council?
Our biggest goal is to give a voice to the Hillcrest residents. I want to help facilitate dialogue about important local issues and link community members with resources to make their voices heard. I also want to continue partnering with and promoting the excellent non-profits in our community.
What does the HTC do by way of improving, assisting, bettering, or cleaning up the community?
The HTC's Clean Team (Together Everyone Achieves More) sponsors community clean ups four times a year. Our annual post-Pride clean up on Monday, July 18 at 7 am at the corner of University and Park Boulevard. Hope you can join us! Make sure wear comfortable shoes and pack some rubber gloves (if you have them). You even get an orange Clean Team shirt for helping.
How does HTC specifically assist the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities?
The HTC partners with community organizations like Pride and helps to promote events like the LGBT Center's Dining Out for Life on April 24. The HTC also takes a stand when it can help advance LGBT equality and pride. The HTC voted to support the Pride Flag on Normal and the creation of Harvey Milk Avenue. HTC meetings also provide a resource for LGBT organizations to connect with Hillcrest residents.
On top of all that you do, we read you’re continuing your education - tell us a bit more about that. What focus? What drives you?
I am in law school at Thomas Jefferson School of Law downtown. I decided to go to law school because I can be more effective as an advocate for social change with a background in the law. I am still exploring different specialties, but I am interested in election law because campaign finance laws are vital to our democracy.
What is a fun fact or bit of trivia that many people do not know about you?
Something people don't always know about me unless we go out to eat is that I am a vegan for humane and environmental reasons. I love to cook, but I never follow a recipe. I also love dining at the many veg-friendly places in Hillcrest.
What do you love about the Hillcrest community?
I love that people can feel comfortable being who they are in Hillcrest. I love that neighbors stop and talk to each other. I love the community pride, the walkability, the independent shops, the nightlife and the happy hours. I feel lucky to live in San Diego's best neighborhood.
What would you like to see change in the Hillcrest community?
I support the efforts of groups like Bike San Diego to increase bike-ability throughout San Diego. I also support efforts of groups like Girls Think Tank to advance basic dignity for people living on the streets.
What sorts of things do you do to enrich your social life outside of the HTC?
In my free time, I get together with friends to catch up over a glass of wine, and I love cooking dinner for my friends. I also like to go dancing and occasionally sing karaoke.
Who is a figure, regional/local/national, you’d love to work with or pick his/her brain? Why?
At the local level, I value the insights of Council President and District 3 representative Todd Gloria. It is impressive to watch him in a question-answer at a community meeting because he knows nearly every constituent by name. He has a great command of facts and nuanced policies. He has a remarkable ability to bring people together to accomplish real results. I commend his work to pass the Climate Action Plan, which outlines common sense ways for San Diego to reduce its carbon footprint -- an example of his results-oriented leadership.