What do you do? (job, community involvement): I serve as the public information officer for the city of Duluth. I coordinate messages from eight out of the nine departments within the city, in addition to messages coming from city administration. I work closely with local, regional and national media partners to share programs, initiatives and emergency responses with the public. I also create messaging on the city’s social media pages and coordinate all internal communication.
I also currently serve on the board of directors of Bentleyville Tour of Lights and the University Nursery School.
I get asked a lot about what my favorite part of my job is. For me, that is an easy question. I have always loved writing and telling stories. Getting to lift up the work being done inside City Hall, on the streets, private residences and businesses in Duluth, in our parks and libraries is by far my favorite part. Each of the 850-plus staff that is employed by the city is so talented and dedicated to the services that they provide. I love getting to connect with staff members and publicly share the work that they are doing and why they feel called to serve our community. Whether that is a firefighter who helped to deliver a baby and reconnected with them a few years later; an Aerial Lift Bridge operator who donated his COVID checks to a local food shelf; a maintenance worker who took a vacation to volunteer to fight the Greenwood fire; or a staff member who created an innovative way to take city property that was vacant and create a pollinator area that also doubles as a stormwater initiative to protect valuable trout streams. There are so many stories to tell about the work that happens within the city every day.
Seeing a story run in print or online and the impact that it has on a specific staff member, or a division, or department is by far the best part of my job.
What is important to you? My family, my work, my values and my community are important to me. My husband and I relocated to Duluth from Denver a little over five years ago, and one of the biggest reasons we moved was the open arms that we felt when we visited. In five years, we have seen how this community steps up to support one another in ways that just doesn’t happen in big cities. We knew we had found a special place, with great people and superior views that we couldn't get anywhere else. We are often asked if we would leave Duluth, and we are always quick to answer "No!"
How do you spend your free time? I spend my free time with my family. My husband, Scott, and I have two children; our 2-and-a-half-year-old son, Colton, and a 3-year-old sheepadoodle named Nala. Together they keep us very busy! We love spending time outside exploring different parks in Duluth, and adventuring up the North Shore. We spend a lot of time at the Great Lakes Aquarium, Lake Superior Zoo and the Duluth Children’s Museum, too.
A sports fan to the core, this past year, we also were lucky to go to several UMD hockey games. Colton has since wanted to be a hockey player so that he can be like his heroes Cole Koepke, Blake Biondi and Hunter Lellig.
Nala and I spend a lot of time walking around our neighborhood. Our nighttime walks are a huge part of slowing down, and taking in the views of Lake Superior. I will never take for granted how beautiful that lake is!
From nominator: "Kate is one of the hardest-working, most dedicated professionals that I have had the opportunity to work with. In her work for the city of Duluth, she strives to find positive stories that highlight the important work being done on a day-to-day basis and often appropriately focuses on unsung heroes. Her love of her work and community is palpable. Kate brings a positive attitude and boundless energy to projects and is always generating fresh ideas." — Chelsea Helmer