Caring for Herself and Her Community: Meet Kati

The start of the school year is a special time for students, but it’s also an exciting time here at Minerva Strategies because we get to welcome a new intern! Kati Rodríguez Pérez (she/they) joins us from Portland, Oregon, and brings her experience in education and policy work to our team.

Kati trusted me with part of her story, and I feel honored to have learned about their history and the issues they care deeply about. In getting to know Kati, I felt a kinship in how we came to communications work as bilingual folks in America.

This is a condensed version of a conversation covering everything from self-care to the importance of community.

Kati, thank you for sharing a bit of the journey that brought you here to Minerva StrategiesYour background is in educational policy work—what has that work taught you about communication?

It taught me about the power of words. Communications and policy work are similar. It’s figuring out how to get your message out to specific communities and tailoring your words to each person you speak to. It’s also about understanding the differences in what people are passionate about.

Kati's two cats pose on a cat tree
Kati’s cat babies, Jojo and Frankie

What are some things you are passionate about?

I’m passionate about so much: intersectional feminism, reading, art, Mexican food, cats, mental health, plants, and more. I really strive to live a life where I practice and live by my beliefs of inclusivity and anti-oppression. I also really value being empathetic and understanding of other people’s life experiences. Overall, I am passionate about being a better person and creating a world where people are celebrated and cared for.

Why were you interested in an internship with Minerva Strategies?

I wanted to try something new. This internship requires a lot more writing than other positions I’ve seen. I have done policy work, and so I really wanted to try something I had been wanting to do for a while. Minerva felt like an inclusive space where I could feel comfortable growing and expanding my knowledge about the communications world. It really helped me to see the website and to see the principles.

Which Minerva Principle caught your attention?

Several of them did, but I really like “make time for yourself.” While living in a capitalistic world, it is easy to overwork yourself especially if you come from historically marginalized groups. I value taking care of myself over work, so I think it is nice to see places like Minerva valuing people and their time. We are not always meant to be working—there is so much to do and see out there.

Kati standing in front of a brick building on the University of Oregon's campus in a white dress and smiling with her graduation ribbons around her neck. One ribbon is white and one is colorful fabric.
Kati graduated this year from the University of Oregon — Go Ducks!

What are you most excited about this internship?

I’m excited to meet new people. Meeting people is hard for me because of my past and having social anxiety. I think meeting new people from all over helps me feel secure. So, with this internship, I’m going to be meeting people from different backgrounds and many different organizations, which will help me feel like I can socialize more than I do now.

Thank you for sharing your experience with social anxiety and the personal parts of your journey. What have your lived experiences taught you about inclusive communication?

Writing has always been really important to me. Since Spanish is my first language, I was conditioned to learn English. I’ve gotten in trouble for speaking Spanish in school, and that influenced how I communicated in the past. I felt it was a requirement for me to be perfect in how I wrote English and spoke. But, at some point, I started to see how that belief was a form of oppression. I don’t think there’s a right way to write or speak. Sure, there are rules, but for the most part, people speak how they can, and just like other things develop, so does language. I want to be inclusive of all people regardless of where they are with their communication. I value other people’s lived experiences and understand the battle of communicating in a world that doesn’t always value you.

Kati and two friends marching in the Take Back the Night march in Eugene, Kati is holding a megaphone and shouting
While working for UO Women’s Center in Eugene, Kati led the annual Take Back the Night Rally, March, and Speak Out Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.

What would your life look like if we no longer had to participate in a capitalistic society?

I would move to Mexico to be with my family. I went for the first time in December, which was a beautiful experience for me to be on my ancestral land with family. With my lived experiences, it’s hard to be in the United States. But I want to eat good food and dance to good music. I would also like to grow my food and have a farm. I want to be in a place where I can take care of myself while also taking care of other people – and bring in my community with food and art.

What are some things you do now to care for yourself?

I’ve been doing guided meditations, which really helped me feel more grounded and not so panicked all the time. Because I struggle with anxiety, I do a lot of  anxiety-related coping strategies like deep breathing and challenging my anxious thoughts. I want to start going on walks so I’m not always inside all the time and feel grounded with the outside. This is something I’m working on every day, and it’s something I’ve been trying to be better at so I can take care of myself.

What social issue is important to you?

I value so many, but one that matters to me a lot is caring for foster youth and helping them succeed—especially after they are forcibly removed from their homes. In the foster care system, Black and Indigenous youth are disproportionately represented, so we see the constant continuation of oppression and violence against these communities. I experienced those things as a foster youth, so truly caring for them is important to me. The issues within the foster care system connect to other areas where we see inequities like immigration, access to housing, food, and health care. Everything is stacked against foster youth, especially when they don’t have a good community or a support system that feels stable. That’s something I wish I could change. We need to work on centering the community and having the community care for these youth instead of sending them into an oppressive system.

Kati and five other friends holding signs and smiling at the Take Back the Night Event

About The Author

Kayla McMenamin

Kayla McMenamin

Kayla has a strong affection for storytelling and an aptitude for translating complex topics into sharp messaging. While her career began more than a decade ago in strategic communications, an insatiable interest in everything health inspired her to return to school to study disparities research and behavior theory. Learn more about Kayla.