Summer 2021 Cover Story: Exclusive Interview with Hudson Valley’s own Madam President Katie Irwin – Interview and Photography by Maxwell Alexander, EIC, Hudson Valley Style Magazine
Maxwell: Hi Katie! Congrats on the amazing cover photoshoot and of course being elected as the youngest president in the history of the Rondout Rowing Club 🙂 I’ve been in the same boat with you a few times, but please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your journey from Texas to the beautiful Hudson Valley.
Katie: Thank you so much, Maxwell. It has been quite a journey just this year becoming president of the club! I moved to the Hudson Valley in July 2019 so I’ve actually called this home for less than two years but I fell in love with the area immediately. I’m originally from Colleyville, Texas near Dallas-Fort Worth but went to college in San Diego, California. At college, I met my husband, who joined the Marine Corps and we’ve been all over the country because of that. I’ve been fortunate to live near the white sandy beaches of Pensacola, Florida, and enjoy the year-round summer weather in San Diego, California but despite all that, the Hudson Valley has been my favorite place to live.
Maxwell: Oh wow! Quite impressive! And I am totally with you on the idea that Hudson Valley is a wonderful place to call home. So what is your favorite part of living here? Is it the beauty of nature and inspiring landscapes? Is it the community and all the creative people in the area? Or is it the quick commute to New York City and an opportunity to get a breath of the fresh metropolitan vibe?
Katie: For me, it was first the people and the warm welcome I received at the club which made this place feel like home. I knew if I could form a community for myself then moving 3,500 miles across the country wouldn’t feel so scary. Once I found the club and started rowing again, I was in awe of the majesty of the Hudson River and the storied history of the Hudson Valley. I still get excited just thinking that I get to row on the same river that has been a fixture in American history and rowing history with the 1936 Men’s Olympic Rowing Team made famous in “The Boys in the Boat”.
Maxwell: I am with you on that one as well: the unique blend of natural and organic beginnings with sophisticated vibes of the city is how we define Hudson Valley Style. How about your personal style? How does the rowing collide or rather blends with your other looks?
Katie: In rowing, just like in life, if you look good, you feel good. This might be an exaggeration but I think that 90% of rowing is about looking good. Rowing a visually beautiful sport that requires a balance of strength and finesse. I would say that I gravitate towards looks that make me feel strong. I have a favorite Armani blazer that I got second-hand in Dallas which always makes me feel like a boss whenever I put it on. I am also drawn to style details that will give me a little twist. Like the red dress I wore for the cover, not only does it look like a watercolor painting with the splashes of blue but it also has a slight metallic sheen that makes me feel so powerful in it. Style to me is about finding your strength as a woman and wearing whatever helps you embody that power.
Maxwell: Awesome! I think all of us are indeed multifaceted creatures and it’s amazing to see the fascinating contrast and juxtaposition of different styles manifesting in our lives. Let’s address the elephant in the room, you are here to pitch a fundraising campaign for the club, tell us more about it!
Katie: When I took over as president, I knew I had a lot of homework to do to get up to speed because I was so new. One of the wonderful things I came across in my club research was our non-profit goals when the club was started in 1999. The club was founded to bring rowing to the Kingston community through partnerships with local high schools, the Kingston Recreation Department, the Boys & Girls Club, and the YMCA. The club founders also wanted to use rowing to help women obtain athletic scholarships through Title IX. My goal as president is to fundraise so that we can provide more programs to the community because rowing is really more than just a sport. Rowing requires perfect unison in the boat in order to win the race and it is because of this high level of teamwork that young athletes can learn confidence, leadership and gain a sense of belonging. You can donate to our fundraiser on GoFundMe website >> or simply start your donation in the widget on the right side of this article.
Maxwell: Awesome idea and I’ll be the first to pitch in 🙂 But seriously, I loved my year rowing at the club and I’d love to come back sometime soon. Rowing is one of those amazing team sports that really shows us how much we the people have in common and how easy it is to accomplish great things if we just try to agree on something. In these divisive times, we are making an extra effort to highlight and support organizations and community projects that unite us, and having an opportunity to shed the light on the Rondout Rowing Club was amazing! Good luck with your fundraising campaign and we’ll circle back in a few months and see the results!