By Ken Williams | Editor
As chair of the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC), Kath Rogers leads a civic-minded volunteer board that provides a public voice to the neighborhood’s residents and their concerns.
Rogers joined the HTC as a board member in 2014. She is a native of Chicago, growing up in the Old Town historical neighborhood on the North Side, but has lived in San Diego since 2004.
After earning a degree in history from University of California San Diego, Rogers went on to earn a law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She works today as an attorney and an adjunct professor, and advocates for social change on issues such as climate policy and the rights of the homeless.
Rogers served as vice chair of the HTC until Luke Terpstra stepped down as chair. She was elected chair in March 2016.
Here are five questions with Rogers.
- What are your duties as chair of the Hillcrest Town Council, and what kind of influence does the organization wield in the neighborhood?
As chair of the Hillcrest Town Council, I lead our monthly public meetings, which provide a forum for neighbors to get involved in the community, learn about civic issues, and take a stand. Speaking of which, I would like to extend an invitation to readers to attend our next community meeting! It is Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Joyce Beers Community Center, 3900 Vermont St. There is always a section for public comment, an update from public representatives, and a discussion of one or more timely topics. All people and all viewpoints are welcome.
My other duties include working with our board on the organization’s strategic planning, communications, neighborhood events and clean-ups, policy goals, etc.
The HTC’s goal is to magnify the voice of our neighborhood, and to make our neighborhood even more fantastic. We are highly effective because we have strong relationships with elected officials, we are led by a team of dedicated volunteers, and we are always willing to speak out and take a stand.
- What has changed about the town council since you have been its leader, and are other changes coming in the future?
Since I became the chair, our board has started assigning a theme to every public meeting to allow us to tackle important social issues. For instance, we have discussed topics such as homelessness, racially biased policing, immigration, hate crimes, low-income housing, sustainability, small businesses, among others. These are relevant issues that matter to our community. HTC’s board has also become more diverse, and we are more focused on advocacy than in the past.
- What do you do for a living, and what do you do for fun?
I am an attorney in private practice, as well as a Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Climate Law & Policy at Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL).
For fun, I sing in a rock ‘n’ roll cover band called the Innocent Bystanders. I can also be spotted at Balboa Park doing clumsy yoga in the grass next to my dog, or dancing at Gossip Grill.
- What are some of your current climate and social justice projects?
I just designed a course for TJSL that examines climate policy at all levels. I am also currently working on a paper for my fellowship about how cities can step up their efforts on climate planning in the absence of federal leadership.
As an attorney, I have an opportunity to represent causes and clients I believe in. I am currently representing a number of San Diegans who are homeless and have not been treated fairly by the legal system. I hope to leverage this experience to help create much-needed policy change to de-criminalize homelessness.
- What do you like about living in the Hillcrest area?
I love living in Hillcrest because of the great neighbors, inclusivity, diversity, welcoming atmosphere, walkability, nightlife, happy hours, community events, restaurants … I could go on and on.
HTC meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Joyce Beers Community Center in the HUB shopping center, 3900 Vermont St. For more information, visit HillcrestTownCouncil.org.