Sept. 19, 2005 For the first time in its six-year history, the Rotary Club of St. John has a woman at the helm. Gerianne Kotas took over for a one-year term as president July 1.
Kotas joined the organization in 2001 and quickly assumed leadership roles. She served on the board since shortly after she joined and was chairman of club services for two years.
"I have a lot of energy," she said, explaining what keeps her going.
She has two goals for her presidency. The first is to make the Rotary Club more visible in the community. The second is to increase membership from its current roster of 34 people.
She said that all the members work hard to further Rotary Club projects.
Kotas said that this Rotary Club is a good fit for her because it holds luncheon meetings at the Westin Resort and Villas. "I want to be home in the evening," she said.
The Rotary Club is just one activity on Kotas' busy plate. She and her husband, Steve Hogroian, have an active law practice Kotas and Hogroian, located at Mongoose Junction shopping center. And she's mother to Julia, 10, a student at Antilles School on St. Thomas.
Kotas said the key to keeping it all in balance is flexibility. Because she's self-employed, she can take the time for Rotary Club activities.
"I never had a job where as an employee, I had any flexibility," she said.
Born in Milligan, Neb., 49 years ago, Kotas graduated with a bachelor's degree in consumer affairs from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
After working in consumer protection for the Nebraska attorney general's for a year, she moved to Chicago to work for the federal government in its food stamp program. She went to Chicago's DePaul University Law School at night, graduating in 1985. She then worked in the legal department at Amsted Industries Inc. manufacturing company.
She and Hogroian married 17 years ago. After visiting St. John several times, they decided in 1991 to make the move.
She worked at the St. Thomas law firms of Andrew Capdeville and then Tom Bolt for the first two years, but she and Hogroian opened their own office on St. John in 1993.
"We moved with the goal of opening our own office," she said.
Having their own law office would probably not be possible in Chicago because there are so many attorneys competing for business, she said. On St. John, they get to know people because the community is small.
Kotas and Hogroian's work mainly focuses on the commercial side, but it does include some estate planning and, rarely, litigation.
Kotas and her family have expanded their horizons a bit from their St. John base. They now spend school vacations in Park City, Utah, to enjoy the skiing. This past summer, Kotas and her husband commuted back and forth to give Julia a taste of what it's like to live off island.
Kotas said it's hard to find quality things for children to do on St. John during the summer because so many people are away, so the summer in Park City gave Julia a bit more exposure.
While in Park City, she and Hogroian competed in the Park City marathon. "I went a lot faster than I thought I would. My goal was just to finish," she said.
She and her husband also compete in the annual 8 Tuff Miles race on St. John.
They stay busy with family activities. She likes to read and said she loves music.
"And we like to take the dogs to the beach on Sunday morning," she said.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.