Person of the Year: Kathy Thornton

Parent volunteer stays busy with lots of giving back to the community.

Before the end of the year, we asked you all to . Some great people were nominated -- Councilwoman Kay Coleman, student Kelsey Lopin, President David Smadbeck -- and, as it was pointed out, there were some great people that didn't get nominated in time for the deadline.

When we asked you all to two people stood out: John Pedersen and Kathy Thornton. We featured a last week and this week are turning our attention to Thornton.


Kathy Thornton does a lot of stuff.

The mother of three boys at, and volunteers at the schools, serves on the San Anselmo Baseball Association board, works with the YES Foundation, does outreach for St. John’s in Ross, and works as a retail designer part-time.

But, even though her husband thinks she’s crazy for being so busy, she doesn’t see it that way.

“I just do these things because they’re important to me,” she said. “I’ve chosen to volunteer in the areas I really feel good about.”

Thornton was by fellow parent Jenny Sears, who has known Thornton since her oldest son, now a sophomore at Drake, was in Kindergarten.

“As long as I’ve known her, she’s been a tireless, devoted volunteer,” said Sears.

Thornton first got involved at the schools that same time she met Sears, when her oldest son started at Wade Thomas. At that time, she became the school garden coordinator – recruiting classroom parents to work with the kids in the school garden, training the volunteers, scheduling time for the classes to work in the garden. Over the years, as she had ideas about improving the outdoor space at the school, she also worked on the landscape committee at the school doing improvements, helping remodel the habitat garden, and improving the courtyard garden.

“I just wanted the kids to be doing outdoor education,” she said

Last year, she finally stepped down as the school garden coordinator and is working instead as a classroom gardening volunteer.

She also volunteers with PTA efforts, the Green Team, and at White Hill as a YES liaison to the many different clubs, art, dance and sports programs the school offers.

As her kids grow up, though, Thornton is starting to step back and hand off the reins. This year she finally passed along another fun job. Both her older kids had been involved with the YES Theater program in the Kid Tech program, which allows the students to be involved behind the scenes running the lights and sound. Of course that meant Thornton volunteered as the Kid Tech coordinator. But, now, she’s passed on that job too.

“I really wanted to be involved with my kid’s schools,” she said.

When her kids started playing for the San Anselmo Baseball Association (SABA), Thornton got involved on the board. When she had the idea a few years ago for the Snack Shack to serve healthier, fresh foods, she found herself running the shack. And, with her youngest son in third grade and just starting to play, she’ll probably be involved at SABA for many more years.

The most important thing to Thornton is that each of the things she's involved with is something she cares about and so it doesn’t seem like work.

In her work at the schools, Thornton gets involved with the activities her kids care about and that she think will bring the most to community. And, at St. John’s, she helps with community outreach and fundraising, the biggest event of which is the, so that the money can be donated to charities locally, around the Bay Area and the country.

The key is giving back to the supportive community and town that she’s lived in for 15 years after moving from condos in Marin City.

“I love this community. I love our neighborhood,” she said.

“I love being busy.”


Colleen Proppe January 13, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Congratulations, Kathy! You are an amazing inspiration. Thank you for all you do for our kids, schools and community. Terrific photo of you and your family.
Carole Nelson January 13, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Kathy is truly one of the most amazing people I have EVER met! There are many other things that Kathy has volunteered her time and creative effort to that are not mentioned in this article. I want to thank her for always having such a creative approach - when there is a need [big or small] she is always there and she always does a wonderful job. This recognition is well deserved - THANK YOU KATHY!!
pamela aurora January 26, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Great Job Kat! You continue to be the"rock" in peoples lives. We should all hope to be as generous and dedicated as you are to others. I am thankful to have a friend like you. P/L


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