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Meet the Vegan Hacktivists: Team Leader Kate Rodman

Written by David van Beveren | October 14, 2021

Today we're excited to learn more about Kate, the Team Leader for Team Mango!

Team Mango is our dedicated design team that designs our project branding, logos, and general UI/UX work. Kate is fairly new to our team so we're excited to share more about her with the community! So, let's get started!

How did you end up finding and joining the Vegan Hacktivists?

I’m not sure where I originally saw VH, but it was probably on Reddit. I couldn’t volunteer at the time, so I became a Patreon supporter. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I decided to apply as a graphic designer. Over that year, I had become more and more depressed about the sheer volume and extent of animal suffering, especially during the pandemic, on top of other tragedies. I felt so helpless. (I still do, sometimes). I decided to volunteer the only skills I knew to the only organization I was aware of that was using creativity for the animals. It didn’t matter how heavy my workload was – I had to try something. Sometimes it feels like just a drop in the bucket, but it does help me to know that I am doing the best I can.

How long have you been with VH, and what's your role here?

I joined VH in May 2021 as a graphic designer and branding specialist. I got to work refreshing the VH brand, designing our new website with the amazing dev team (shoutout #avocados🥑), and assisting with other design projects for the animals. Just recently in September, I said yes to becoming the Team Lead for Team Mango (our dedicated design team). In addition to still contributing design work, I now manage the team of incredible designers who are volunteering their time with us. We have graphic designers, UI/UX designers, specialists in specific design areas – many people who are generously donating their time and talent towards projects that help the animal rights movement. I’m in awe of their skills and dedication every day!

What do you love most about being part of the VH team?

I’m enjoying the general workflow and personality of the team. It really fits my work style. I’ve always been someone who enjoys taking initiative, whether it’s with my own project ideas or being given direction from someone else and running at full speed with it – I think that’s a good fit with VH. I like that everyone’s chill, but we all have a strong determination and fire for the work we’re doing. That is the best combo.

[Blog post] Artwork by Kate

Check out Kate's Instagram for more of her amazing art!

You just started focusing more on UI design with VH, can you share any challenges you've faced or what you've learned from this type of design work?

I’ve dabbled in UI/web design for a little while, but the large majority of my professional work has been branding, print, 2D graphics, and illustration. While I can do UI design, I’m acutely aware of how little I know about it compared to someone who is *actually* trained in UI/UX. That being said – I’ve done more UI design for VH in the last few months than I’ve ever done before. With the guidance from the team, I’ve already gotten a better handle on it and feel more confident. I still have a ways to go, lots to learn (as always), but I look forward to continuing to improve.

We're always impressed with how much time and dedication you put into the Vegan Hacktivists! What do you do to make sure you're not burning out, if anything?

This is actually a topic that comes up a lot for me. Lately I have learned to be confident in the things I say “yes” or “no” to. If it’s important to me, it’s a hard “yes” and I give it 100%. If it’s not important, I don’t waste energy on it. Saying “no” to things is hard, but it’s vital for me to put my energy into things that matter.

As far as activism, I’ve heard this metaphor about it being like a relay race. When you have the baton, you run as far and as hard as you can. But then you must hand the baton off to someone else so that you can rest. That way, you can come back again. It’s so important to work with others who share your goals – we can’t do it alone!

What kind of work do you do outside of the Vegan Hacktivists?

I work full time for a design agency in Maryland, US, and dabble in a bit of freelance design work. The biggest thing for me is variety – I like to have a lot of different things going on at once. It keeps the work fresh, and keeps me from getting bored. I’ve worked for a wide variety of clients in really random/unique industries, from the driest most corporate subjects to the most fun & fabulous games. You’d think they would have nothing to do with each other – but I love working with clients that have a passion for what they do, regardless of industry. People that have a fire in their heart are my kind of people.

What's your favorite software to use when drawing or making your designs?

Can I say “unfortunately” Adobe? I wish Adobe didn’t have such a stronghold on my life. But I use their software every day!

Fun fact: I am extremely basic with my tools. Coworkers know I am perfectly happy with a pencil and plain paper (no fancy notebooks). Something I kept to myself but only recently started fessing up to: I also prefer working on my laptop with no 2nd monitor… using a trackpad… (I know). But I like the flexibility of knowing I’m fully 100% functional anywhere, anytime. The trackpad is more intuitive than a mouse at this point since it’s been so long. 

I’m a big believer in “the tools don’t make the artist.” You don’t need anything special or expensive to be great – just the basics.

How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?

I stopped eating meat in ~2017 due to some bad chicken. There was nothing noble about the decision – but when I did it, I realized how easy it was. “Why don’t I do this all the time?” I had always considered myself someone who loves animals and I hadn’t made the connection to my food at all. When I wasn’t eating meat, it freed me to make that connection without getting defensive or making excuses, and I never went back. As I continued to learn and grow, I cut out all other animal products and became vegan – but back then, I was embarrassed/quiet about it. I had several “bullies” (for lack of a better word) and didn’t enjoy being “the vegan.”

And then 2020 happened – of course, it was horrible for a long, long list of reasons, but one small benefit was that I could be myself at home. I fell in love with being vegan. I didn’t have to hear a single word of trash talk, I learned so many delicious new foods (as we all spent a lot more time cooking at home), and I dedicated more time to learning about animal agriculture which really strengthened my resolve and inspired me to become active. Lately, I’m proud to say that I’m vegan – and embarrassed that I was ever afraid to say so.

What hobbies and things do you like to do in your spare time?

What is spare time?

Jk. If I have any creative energy left for myself after work is through, I love drawing and crochet. Outside of that, I enjoy tabletop board games, gardening, cooking & baking, and walking my dog Griffin (for real he is the cutest).

You told us you recently found yourself in the possession of a 3D printer, how has that been?

Oh man, I wish I could say I’ve done more with it. It is really really cool. The only thing I’ve managed to do is download and print things that fabulous people online have already designed – I haven’t managed to 3D design anything of my own yet. It’s something I look forward to playing with more!

We know you like tabletop games! Do you have any you'd recommend to our readers?

My favorite game lately is called Wingspan. If you play board games you will say “duh, that’s a wildly popular game,” but I wanted to mention it because the designer of that game is one of the prominent female game designers in the tabletop industry, Elizabeth Hargrave, and I am a major fangirl. I love that she basically said: I love birds, I love board games, so I’m going to make a game about bird watching – and now it’s wildly successful. She brought her unique analytical skills to something creative, and it took off. It inspires me to work on things I’m passionate about that don’t yet exist: chances are, if you love it, there’s a group of people who are also yearning for the same thing.

[Blog post] Artwork by Kate

Check out Kate's Instagram for more of her amazing art!

Is there any advice you'd like to tell your earlier vegan or non-vegan self?

I’d tell my early vegan self to be more confident and lean in to who I was. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Find a way to use your voice and have courage.

I’d tell my non-vegan self to watch Dominion.

Thanks for talking with us today, Kate!

About the Author
David van Beveren

David is Founder and Executive Director of Vegan Hacktivists. In 2019, he created the organization to address gaps in technology & data for the animal protection movement. Since founding, VH has supported over 200 organizations with its services. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching anime, and playing handpan.