Kathy Rogers Woods, Billy Adams Award Honoree, maintains a ‘servant’s attitude’
ALAMOSA — When Kathy Rogers Woods was summoned for an urgent, top-secret meeting with Adams State University President David Tandberg, Ph.D., she didn’t know what to expect.
“I was really nervous about going. I thought it was bad news,” said Woods, who serves as the economic development officer for the City of Alamosa. “Then we met, and he said, ‘You’re Billy Adams. You’ve been selected for this award. I thought, ‘I don’t deserve it.’ The previous recipients have done so much for Adams State and the community, I’m not sure I fit those parameters. It’s a huge honor, and it means the world to me.”
Tandberg said she embodies the spirit of Billy Adams.
“Kathy is as dedicated to her community as our founder, Billy Adams. She continues to support and serve our university exceptionally well,” he said.
Though Woods was surprised, those who work with her know better. A lifelong resident of the San Luis Valley, she has an extensive history of community service, including stints on the City Council, as Mayor, and as a member of the Adams State Board of Trustees.
Woods has also served on multiple boards and commissions statewide and locally, including the Governors Rural Healthcare Grants Council, Colorado Victims Service Board, 12th Judicial District Victims Comp Board, Trinidad State Junior College Foundation Board, Colorado Municipal League Policy Board Chair, El Pomar Regional Council, Alamosa Chamber of Commerce Board, and more.
“I’ve never been afraid to step in and help, even if it means doing something out of my comfort zone,” said Woods. “You get to know all kinds of people that way, and that has been the best thing in my life. By getting involved, I’ve gotten to know such a variety of people I would never have gotten to know, who have had such an impact on my life.”
Woods’ service-driven orientation began early on. Born and raised in Monte Vista, Woods’ parents empowered her to be an active member of the community.
“When I was around 15 years old, there was a fundraising drive for a local organization. My mom told me to figure out how to raise some money that we could donate,” said Woods. “So, my friends and I had a teeter-totter marathon. We were able to donate that money. Since then, I’ve had a servant’s attitude.”
Woods also worked in a local nursing home, volunteering with her friend to help feed lunch to a couple of elderly residents.
“One day we arrived and one of the nurses said, ‘Honey, I’m sorry. We lost Mrs. Tuttle.’ And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, we can go try to find her,’” recalls Woods with a laugh. “I was very naïve and I still am, but I’ve had so many wonderful experiences, and all of them revolve around doing some kind of community service.”
After moving to Alamosa, Woods decided to run for City Council, prompted in part by the absence of female councilmembers. She and her then-husband ran a local business; serving as a councilmember would be an opportunity to pursue her passion for public service and engage with the community.
“I ran thinking I probably didn’t have a chance in heck, because I ended up running against an incumbent, but people supported me throughout the campaign,” said Woods. “That was how I really got to know Adams State.”
Woods’ path to public service wasn’t always smooth or easy. In fact, the difficult times helped her appreciate more than ever the true value of community. For instance, when her then-husband announced he was leaving, she didn’t know how she’d fare.
“I had a 9-year-old and a not-quite 1-year-old, and I was stay-at-home mom,” said Woods. She had enrolled in nursing school, but classes didn’t start for months. What she needed was a short-term job and quickly. When a member of the community found out, he hired her to do odds and ends.
“They didn’t need me at all, but they created this job for me,” said Woods. “That experience helped me grow into who I am now. As a community, we lack some resources, and we’re not wealthy. It’s always a struggle, but in that struggle comes strength and the ability to make do with what we have.”
In Alamosa, Adams State plays a significant part in strengthening the community, said Woods.
“Adams State really is the root of the San Luis Valley and especially of Alamosa. It really offers a lot to our quality of life. Great stories start here. That really is the truth,” she said.
As a member of the Adams State Board of Trustees, Woods helped the university navigate tumultuous times, including several changes to the President’s Office.
“Anything you go through like that makes you stronger and wiser. That was the deal. We went through some trying times, but we survived and became stronger,” said Woods. Right now, I can’t even express how hopeful and positive I am about Adam State’s future.”
Woods will be recognized at the 2023 Alumni Awards Banquet on Sept. 22, in the Student Union Building. For reservations visit adams.edu/alumni/homecoming; call 719-587-8110; or email [email protected].