By: Ruth Rodriguez, Communications Intern
Roxanne Groff, a formidable activist with 20 years of experience as an elected official in Athens County, Ohio, shared her experience for CHEJ’s Living Room Leadership Series.
Originally from Toledo, Groff made her way to Athens, Ohio for college in 1967 where her activism began. There, she began protesting the Vietnam War and recognized many things needed to change. From that moment on, Groff states, she “couldn’t stop” because there was always something new to fight.
“Anger pushes people to do a lot of pretty effective things.”
After protesting a coal mine that would threaten local water and air, Groff thought of how much she could do as a politician. Humorously, what motivated Groff to go to board meetings was the need for her road to be fixed. Eventually, a trustee asked Groff why she did not run for a seat on the board. In a turn of events, she ran and defeated the trustee in 1979, beginning her political career at 29 years old.
“If you really care how things work you’re going to find out, and I did.”
Her active involvement in the political arena, including the State Trustee Association, led to her position on the Board of County Commissioners. This was a means into state legislative work. She served 3 terms and then ran for Township Trustee which led to almost 20 years in office. As a result of her work in politics she, to this day, can get in contact with members of the government. She stresses the importance of not adapting yourself or the issues you are fighting for. Because of her refusal to conform, many current members of the government remember her as someone who always stood up and was passionate about what she believed in.
“You fight for everything that comes up that is going to protect the people.”
Groff stresses the importance of direct action. Putting decision makers into uncomfortable situations forces them to think. Although, sitting face-to-face with anyone is difficult during COVID-19. That being said, Groff will keep fighting.
“There’s too much to do…I don’t have any reason to stop.”