Katie Rosenberg’s passion for traveling led her to such far-flung destinations as Morocco, France and Japan. But while she loves to travel, her passion for Wausau — especially its southeast side — reigns supreme in steering her dayto-day activities and community involvement.
Rosenberg, integrated marketing manager for Eastbay, is strongly drawn to anything related to civic engagement. She was raised just a few blocks from her current home on the southeast side that she has represented as a Marathon County board supervisor since 2016.
It’s a path she credits her father, Jim Rosenberg, for establishing. He was a long-time figure in Wausau and Marathon County politics — including the county board and city council — before accepting a job out of the area.
“I often say I didn’t have a choice because my dad was so active when I was growing up,” she said. “I watched him go to these meetings, and people were always walking up to him with questions or calling him. I learned by what he did, doing a few things in high school with the Mayor’s Youth Action Council and such, but my dad was the biggest influencer.”
Now, in her third year on the county board, she’s still a relatively young member on the board but believes she’s been able to have a significant impact. She said she’s fortunate to next to a board member who also serves as chairman of his town and has gained insights from him. Much of Rosenberg’s focus with her constituents is rooted in very purposeful communication, which comes as no surprise to those who know her. She is a former journalist who earned her master’s degree in strategic public relations and knows that people can’t care about what they don’t know.
“I work hard to let people know what’s going on the county board,” she said. “We have a lot going on and a bigger budget than the city’s, and people need to understand where their tax dollars go. I like to bring people along and engage them.”
Her district is engaged, thanks to constituent outreach she has done solo and alongside other board members, even hosting listening sessions at sites such as the farmer’s market. She capitalizes on her communication skill-set by contributing articles to the county’s newsletter, even helping to evolve it into a friendlier-to-access format. She also employs the use of social media to inform her constituents and to tell the story of what she and other board members are doing and showcasing the people and projects they might not otherwise know about.
“When I left work in the media, there was a big hole for me,” she said. “Then, I ran for county board and realized I had this new platform that I could use to continue promoting public engagement and civic literacy.”
It’s working. On Election Day, voter turnout is generally 10 percent higher in District 1 than the average voter turnout for the City, and she’s helped steer the media to the issues-based coverage she favored during her tenure as a journalist.
But Rosenberg’s interests and passion points extend beyond the political. Health and human services are high up on her list, and she is fortunate to serve on the county’s health and human services committee and has served as the vice chair of the county’s nursing home committee. It’s personal for Rosenberg as her great-grandmother lived her last year of life there in the 1990s. She was also with her grandfather in the facility when he passed away, and as of just a few months ago, her grandmother is under its care.
“I was so proud when the county voted not only to continue serving the area’s population with the nursing home but to renovate it so we can ensure the security and health of our loved ones for generations,” she said. “I’ve seen what it takes for a facility like this to take care of a couple hundred people to be well taken care of.”
The county-run home is not a statutory obligation, and the decision has been made to continue to operate it through the county versus outsourcing it, Rosenberg said. “We have the data to make these decisions and show this is the best option for Marathon County,” she said. “Renovating it will make it better for generations and generations into the future.”
Focusing on future generations is something that drives Rosenberg in all her community involvement. It’s been key to her past involvement in Kids Voting Wisconsin-Marathon County, holding mock elections and conventions for K-12 students in the county. Rosenberg vividly remembers participating when she was a seventh grader, and found it particularly fulfilling to give back to this organization. While she no longer serves on its board (she stepped away when she assumed her county board seat), she is on call to work at special events.
Rosenberg also serves as a trustee on the Marathon County Library board (eight years) and trustee on the Wisconsin Valley Library Services board (three years). She found herself drawn to library needs because it’s a destination for knowledge and education, a community center/gathering place and a resource for everyone. She’s most excited to have had a role in finally securing funding to replace the library’s roof.
“It’s been my entire tenure that we’ve needed one, and because of the way the statutes are built, it’s been a laborious process,” she said, but we’ve secured the funding from the county, something I was able to advocate for in my role on county board.”
She also fulfills her passion for the river districts and events as a member of both the Wausau River District board and the Wausau Events board. She says that instead of attending some events for an hour, she’ll volunteer and be there for three hours instead, making it realistic to manage in her schedule. “It’s so cool to see people enjoying these activities,” she said. “Everyone is so excited to be there.”
Rosenberg also serves as a member of the North Central Wisconsin marketing committee, member of the Northern Valley Industries Inc. board, participant in the United Way of Marathon County Emerging Leaders and Women United, and member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Wisconsin Advisory committee.
She’s the first to admit that it’s a lot to juggle, and she and her husband share a Google calendar so he always knows where she’s off to if she’s not home in the evening. She says that having an understanding husband has been key to serving to the degree she can at this stage of her life.
“It’s really about volunteering when it’s the right time of your life.,” she said. “For me, that’s right now. I know what I want my community to be and the things I need to do to get there.”