Kate Hacker touched hundreds of lives as a compassionate teacher and an inspiring community organizer. She improved the lives of children, especially teenagers, by connecting them with their community.
Kate Hacker taught early childhood development at Santa Rosa Junior College in childcare programs, and ran children’s drama workshops. She served as Director of the Campaign for a Healthier Community for Children (CHCC) from 1987 until her death.
The creation of the Music Mentor Program in 1993 was the high point of Kate’s professional life. This innovative program featured monthly concerts by local teenage bands and drew crowds of 600. Despite initial objections from local authorities, Kate persisted. She took on her community’s fear of teenage energy and made from it an outlet for teenage creativity. Kate believed the only way teens would learn responsibility was by having them handle the concerts themselves. They interviewed bands, promoted the concerts, performed and even managed security. By teaching them responsibility, Kate showed teens they could have fun, earn respect and achieve success.
While struggling with pancreatic cancer in 1998, Kate worked with her staff until her last month, preparing them to carry on the work of CHCC. Two weeks before she died, Kate rested at home while CHCC’s annual talent show (the 12th she produced) took place. After the show the child and adult participants stood under Kate’s bedroom window and serenaded her with the songs she’d taught them. Later that year, fifty children and adults made a float in Kate’s honor and marched in the County Fair Days Parade, where Kate Hacker was posthumously named Honorary Marshall.