In 1996, Kathie and her family moved to 1334 Boston Blvd., in Lansing. As a young mother and new homeowner, she looked forward to living in an established neighborhood. It was important to her that her children grow up in a community where people looked out for each other. Not long after she got settled, Kathie loaded her one-year-old in a stroller and went out to meet her neighbors. At every door, she introduced herself, asking how long people had lived there and what they liked about the neighborhood. So began Kathie’s legacy in the Lansing community.
She quickly discovered that many neighbors had never met, including some who had lived for decades on the same street. It wasn’t that people were unfriendly, they just didn’t have the occasion to meet. That changed when Kathie started the Sagamore Hill Neighborhood Association. Over the next several years, Kathie transformed her neighborhood from a place where people barely knew each other to a community where people shared keys to each other’s houses. Where they once had no occasion to meet, Kathie organized Easter egg hunts, summer picnics, Halloween Parades, and holiday dinners.
In 2002, Kathie received Lansing Neighborhood Council’s Bea Christy Award for her dedication to the community. Later that year, Neighborhood Associations of Michigan presented Kathie with their annual Community Leadership Award. The Ingham County Health Department took note of Kathie’s accomplishments and hired her to coordinate larger community-building initiatives. This work led her to found the South Lansing Community Development Association.
As Executive Director, Kathie works directly with citizens, business owners, school and faith organizations, government agencies, and other nonprofit providers to build a strong, healthy community on Lansing’s south side. She also started several signature events, including the South Lansing Community Farmers Market, the Southside Community Showcase, and the Hawk Island Triathlon, the largest inland triathlon and the first “Green Certified” race in Michigan.
In 2005, Kathie was elected to the Lansing City Council, where she has been a tireless advocate for advocate for social justice, community and economic development, environmental stewardship, urban revitalization, citizen engagement, and sound fiscal management.
Kathie continues to live in South Lansing, raising four bright, kind, socially-conscious kids. In addition to juggling two jobs, four kids, and 114,000 constituents, Kathie writes and performs stand-up comedy.
To understand how to lead our community, it’s important to be involved in making that community a better place. Below are a few items I have accomplished over the past few years in my service to Lansing:
- Worked with leaders in the refugee community and agency partners to start Webster Farm (2012), a two acre community garden space serving 85 families.
- Helped residents and business owners create a strategic plan for revitalizing REO Town (2010-2011), including design ideas for the new S. Washington streetscape.
- Wrote successful DNR Trust Fund Grant to preserve 28 acres of wilderness along the Grand River (2009), now Hunters Ridge Park.
- Hosted forums and compiled input from hundreds of residents to shape Lansing’s Master Plan (2009-2010)
- Started the South Lansing Farmers Market (2009 – present), increasing access to fresh food and generating $53,000 in sales annually for local growers.
- Re-elected to City Council (2009)
- Facilitated citizen engagement to create master plan for Benjamin Davis Park (2007-2008), which resulted in installation of a non-motorized path to address pedestrian safety concerns.
- Organized Lansing’s first multi-sport race, the Hawk Island Triathlon (2007 – present), a recreational event that promotes the local economy by attracting participants from 12 states and Canada.
- Crafted the City’s Human Rights Ordinance (2006), protecting our LGBT community and other protected classes from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
- Led the effort to install rain gardens along Michigan Avenue, to reducing harmful contamination of the Grand River (2006) – now recognized across the country as a model for urban stormwater remediation.
- Hosted “View to the Future” community engagement for stakeholders in SW Lansing (2005), which fueled efforts to establish a Southside Community Center.
- Elected to City Council (2005)
- Founder and Director, South Lansing Community Development Association (2005 – present), a nonprofit agency dedicated to citizen-driven community initiatives.
- Community Development Coordinator, ICHD Community Voices Project (2002-2005)
- Member, Neighborhood Watch Advisory Board (2002-2004)
- Member, Lewton Elementary School PTA (2001-2004)
- Coach, Lansing Park & Recreation (2000-2003)
- Board Member, Lansing Neighborhood Council (1999-2003)
- Founder and president, Sagamore Hill Neighborhood Association (1997-2005)
Awards and Recognition
- Community Service Person of the Year, South Lansing Business Association (2012)
- “Leading on Many Levels,” Greater Lansing Woman cover story (March 2012)
- Grand Marshall, Michigan Pride Parade (2011)
- State of Michigan Tribute for hosting the first “Green Certified” race in Michigan history (2011)
- Featured as one of “10 Women Who Wield Influence,” Greater Lansing Woman (March 2010)
- Keynote Speaker, Michigan Pride Rally (2009)
- Featured as one of “Lansing’s Best, Brightest, and Most Beautiful,” The New Citizens Press (2005)
- Community Leadership Award, Neighborhood Associations of Michigan (2002)
- Bea Christy Award, Lansing Neighborhood Council (2002)