Kathi's Roots

Kathi & Family

My roots go deep in our country and our state, and so does my passion for our state and our country.

In December of 1836, at age 75, my maternal grandfather five generations ago, Stephen Williams, walked, with 3 of his grandsons and a son-in-law, from Jasper, (in SE Texas) to San Antonio to fight in the Siege of Bexar, where the Texicans took the Alamo from the Mexican army. Family stories say he fought because he didn't like being told what religion he had to be in order to live in Texas. I like to think he may have also wanted to protect his grandsons, having fought in the Revolutionary War, and having seen some very bloody battles. 

Drawing of Stephen at
the Siege of Bexar


During the Texas Centennial, Stephen's body was moved from a Jasper cemetery and buried on Republic Hill, where Texas heroes are buried. Former Lt. Governor Bob Bullock is buried next to him. Grandfather Williams fought in the American Revolution when he was 17 and the Texas War for Independence when he was 75—he’s one of only two men buried at the State Cemetery to have fought in both wars. Every Memorial Day, the DAR and SAR hold a service there to honor all veterans who have died, with special attention to Stephen and Lt. Rankin.

Our family still owns some land in Newton County, which was granted in a Mexican land grant to his daughter, Mary "Polly" Youngblood, so those ties to my roots remain.

 

My paternal grandmother, five generations back, Nanye’hi (called “Nancy Ward”)  was the last “beloved woman” of the Cherokee. She had the power to decide whether prisoners died or lived, and she was known as one who chose life for the prisoners. Her friendships with the European settlers led to a DAR Chapter being named after her in Tennessee, and she is credited a moving speech that (for the first time) led to a treaty that gave away no Cherokee land and allowed Colonial forces to leave Tennessee and join Gen. Washington's troops at Yorktown, the deciding win for the Colonials.

My ancestors showed great courage, often in the face of almost insurmoutable odds, but they didn't live in fear. Isn't it time to quit living in fear, and to live and govern in a different manner?

About Kathi

Born in Lubbock, raised in Woodville in deep SE Texas, Kathi went to public school in Woodville, where she was a member of the award-winning Kirby High School Band. She credits band with helping her learn to focus her work towards excellence in all that she does. Her parents were Paul and Ruth Thomas. Ruth was an RN by training, and Paul was an engineer/superindendent and built refineries all over South America. When Kathi was in middle school, they started a nursery at their home, and then a florist shop not long after. Kathi worked weekends and summers in her parents' business beginning in middle school and summers and holidays while in college.

She went from Woodville public schools to Sam Houston University and then transferred to The University of Texas at Austin, where she was part of the famed Longhorn Band (where she met her future husband), the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band and Orchestra, as well as the women’s professional music honorary, Sigma Alpha Iota. After graduation, she had a short stint as a high school band director and then moved into the floral business, first at her parents’ store and later for an international floral wire service.  Bitten by an entrepreneurial bug, she launched her own Floral Design School, where she got her initial exposure to the world of politics. Later, she taught floral design at Austin Community College,

 As she began her school, Kathi saw that small schools were adversely affected by state regulatory legislation, and, gaining the support of Texas Education Agency (TEA), she worked with them in creating a small schools coalition to push for relief from part of the regulatory legislation. The coalition had to convince the requisite majority of the Legislature while simultaneously heading off efforts by some of the schools that had created the need for new regulations to sneak into the small schools’ tent. It took two legislative sessions and some real pushback in the face of adversity, but the changes she sought became law and she counts the pen Governor Ann Richards used to sign it into law as one of her most treasured mementos. More importantly, the experience gave rise to her belief that ordinary citizens CAN make a difference, if they take the step of involving themselves in the process.

In 1990, Kathi married her college sweetheart, Austin businessman and native Mark Hastings.  They have one daughter, Lettie, now 14, whom they adopted from Guatemala in 2001. Kathi's sister, who is developmentally challenged, lives with them part time. They live in rural Hays County, between Austin and Dripping Springs and have two dogs, 12 chickens and a pony.

With Lettie's enrollment in Dripping Springs schools, Kathi became active in PTA/PTSA, where she served as Reflections Council Chair this year for Dripping Springs High School. She is active in Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church, where she is Coordinator for the CPC Thursday Noonday Concerts, Head Wedding Director, and (nonserving) Elder. She is a member of Thankful Hubbard NSDAR, the chapter that placed the headstone at her ancestor’s grave at the State Cemetery. She chairs Thankful Hubbard's Conservation Committee and the Memorial Day Service held at the State Cemetery every Memorial Day.

Additionally, she is a member of the Austin Table of Pan American Round Table (PART), an organization formed after the Mexican American War to work for understanding and peace between the two countries She is a member of the Longhorn Alumni Band, and enjoys playing with them for scholarship fundraising, as well as the annual football game where they march. Kathi is also a member of the Cherokee Nation, through her ancestor Nan-ye-Hi.

Kathi is an active Democrat and was a Precinct Chair for Hays County Democrats from 2008 until she resigned to run for Congress at the end of 2015. In 2006, Kathi ran for State Senate, against then Senator Jeff Wentworth. She won Travis County by over 22 points (Sen. Wentworth had not previously lost Travis) and cut into his historic margins in most of SD-25. She is a member of the leadership team for Dripping Springs Democratic Alliance.

Kathi owns the special event design and planning company, Kathi Thomas Design, where she works with weddings and other special occasions, as well as events like the Rainwater Revival, which she has coordinated since its inception 7 years ago. Her husband owns Hastings Communication Services (now called Hastings Humans) which was begun by his mom in 1948. Having two small business owners in the family, Kathi is keenly aware of the unique challenges facing small family owned businesses.

Isn't it time to quit living in fear, and to live and govern in a different manner?

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