Meet Kate Mattison! Kate is the new Gainesville Parks and Recreation Director, taking over the position of longtime director Melvin Cooper. She is married to Nate and the couple has two daughters; Harper, 6 and Maggie, 17 months. The family moved to the area earlier this year from Columbus, Ohio.
“We always said we wanted to move towards mountains or water and I feel like we lucked out with the lake and mountains here,” Kate said. “I have told people this since moving here that I had always thought Midwesterners were really nice people but Southern hospitality is real! Everyone has been so nice, we’ve been really pleased so far.”
Kate went through an intense interview process for her position with Parks and Recreation. She said the most daunting part of the process was taking over for Melvin Cooper. “He is the absolute best and you can see why he is so beloved by everyone. He has been an ear to talk to when I have questions, he’ll stop by and we’ll have lunch,” she said.
We want to thank Kate for spending time with us and answering a few questions about her new life in Gainesville and Hall County.
Question: What inspired you or led you to your career today?
Answer: “I was a nature loving, outdoor sports person. I don’t know if it’s because my parents pushed it on me but either way it worked! I got my undergrad degree in Sports Management and Business and then I have a Masters degree in Recreation, Sport and Tourism. I got into it because we spent most of my childhood on roadtrips. I’ve been to all 50 states…we drove to Alaska when I was 7. My parents were teachers, so they had the summers off. We took our pop up camper and traveled all the time. I played a ton of sports in high school and I decided I’d rather work with the public as opposed to working at a division 1 college doing their halftime shows.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County?
A: “I want to choose by type of food. So far my favorite Mexican restaurant is Senor Fiesta but I also love Atlas Pizza.”
Q: What is one of your favorite places you have traveled to?
A: “I would say Denali in Alaska. We went there again two years ago. The number of grizzlies, moose and caribou we saw was amazing. The mountain was also spectacular. We also went to Iceland this past January. We try to travel a lot as you can tell. We took the kids to Iceland, too. I had on my bucket list to see the Northern Lights and we saw them. I was so happy I cried. It was amazing.”
Pro Tip: Kate said for travel inspiration to look at the air-inclusive trips on Groupon.
Q: What was the first movie that you saw in the theatre?
A: “I remember seeing ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Jurassic Park.’”
Q: What three bands/musicians would like you like to see?
A: “Creedence Clearwater Revival (I can thank my mother for that, she is a huge CCR fan), Florida Georgia Line and Lizzo.”
Q: Where is the next trip you are planning to take?
A: “In April, we are going to Big Bend National Park in Texas, where I’ve always wanted to visit. I always have in mind reasonable trips and then ones that take a lot of planning and my next crazy wild one is to go to Kruger National Park in South Africa and see the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo). That’s a long term goal trip.”
Q: Who is one of the most interesting people that you have met in Hall County?
A: “Melvin Cooper! 100 percent, because he knows everyone and everything.”
Q: What three words mean HOME to you?
A: “Happy, chaotic and full of love.”
Q: If you could star in a movie who would be your costar?
A: “Chris Pratt (formerly of the TV sitcom ‘Parks and Recreation’).”
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: “Life is short, be brave and go on the adventure. I’m doing it right now.”
The Faces of Hall County is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured please email email@example.com.