Born in Lima, Peru, raised between the ancient Inca kingdom and Miami, Florida, and growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah has made Hillary Koellner, COO of September Group, LLC, one of the more fascinating and international figures interviewed by Clark H. Caras of Candidates.vote.
Koellner, being fluent in English and Spanish, is also the Hispanic Outreach Director for Monolith Registry, and Dot.Vote/Voto. Koellner made her way to these positions from having spent time as an anchor/reporter for Telemundo Utah. This University of Utah graduate in political science and nutrition is a social media Influencer along with her dog, Kokho – with thousands of followers.
“I was active in not just posting things but in telling stories and people just wanted to talk to me about what they were seeing me do and what they were doing. And when I left television they followed me and wanted to stay in touch. That’s when things really evolved and the thousands and thousands of followers developed. And I hope it continues because I love to share with people.”
Candidates.vote– So we’ll interview you first and get to Kokho a bit later. I’m going to ask you the same first question I put to everyone and we’ll see where we go. Hillary, are you a hamburger or cheeseburger kind of person?
Koellner– Burger… Turkey burger though. Has to be turkey. And no cheese.
Candidates.vote – America’s turkey industry is going to love you. First non-beef burger or cheeseburger in all of our interviewees. Okay, turkey with no cheese, but what about pickles. Pickles or no pickles?
Koellner– Definitely pickles. Used to hate them, but love them now.
Candidates.vote– Being born in one of the highest capital cities in the world and then making your way as a child not only to the United States but sea level at that; but then growing up in the mountains of Utah has to of made for some things unique in growing up?
Koellner– For a while I was growing up between Florida and Peru. At least until I was old enough to start school and that was in Miami Beach.
Candidates.vote– What took you to the mountains and desert of Utah?
Koellner– We moved to Utah because I have two sisters who were there. One of them has three step kids who I’m technically an aunt to, but because we’re so close in age growing up it was like I had a brother and sisters. We grew up together so my sister was like a second mom too.
Candidates.vote– A major in political science and nutrition and started out professionally on Telemundo Utah?
Koellner– I was five years old when I began to fall in love with politics. I began seeing myself headed for politics or entertainment. The idea of it finally being in politics grew really strong when I was able to work as an intern in Washington, D.C. and then do work for a United States congressional candidate.
Candidates.vote– With your background and the growing up in various places before landing in Utah for the majority of your life thus far, what book would we find Hillary Koellner reading?
Koellner– I love historical books. And there is one story I love reading and re-reading constantly. Gandhi – he made such an impact on the world. His vision gave him conservative values, but liberal values for society. He truly started a great movement that appears to be a bit hipper for some to have started following again.
Candidates.vote– Who would you say is your hero in life?
Koellner – My mom. Definitely my mom. She was a single mom who worked her butt off for us. She is definitely a warrior. She made everything possible for us and made sure we never wanted for anything. Yes, I’m very thankful for my mother.
Candidates.vote– Have you been back to Miami and Florida as an adult?
Koellner– Yes, I recently went back and stayed for a while. As a child I really didn’t see it, or maybe notice it, but there is such a Latin influence there. Not just the Cuban and Hispanic but the South American too. It’s huge! It was interesting speaking to them now and great to hear what they care about and want.
I’m not really a snow person (The day of Koellner’s interview there had been a sudden and unexpected spring snow storm in Utah.) I want to move back to Miami because of the snow. (Said with a bit of a laugh.)
Candidates.vote– You mentioned at a young age you thought about being in politics or entertainment. Becoming a true social media influencer, an entirely new meaning for the word – Influencer; seems to be making both part of your life? How did the social media influencer part of thing begin for you… and Kokho.
Koellner– Honestly, working in the media created it. Being able to, and having to, tell stories on television has helped me. And Kokho is just cute and does cute things. And from the first time I started using Facebook and had my own page, really for my television work, I began to love social media and what you can do with it and how you can stay in touch with people.
Candidates.vote– I know Kokho was rescued and you are a big supporter of the Utah Humane Society. How did the Kokho social media evolve along with you?
Koellner– Kokho is a huge part of me and a bit like me is a lot of ways, but she’s a dog. (Laughing) And she’s a bit sassy! And it’s funny because I spoil her rotten and when I was younger I was fearful of dogs. That might have been because we didn’t have one. Kokho has helped me realize animals are so amazing; she brings me so much joy.
Candidates.vote– As someone who has had success in using social media, what advice do you have for others?
Koellner – Instagram! It’s so much fun and people are able to relate back to you more through it. It’s addicting and it’s easy to use. They need to be more involved if they want their social media to work for them and for them to enjoy it.
Candidates.vote– The political climate is a bit testy right now. As someone who has thousands of people following her on social media; what advice do you have for someone about the political world as you see it and hope they might be able to see the same thing?
Koellner – No matter which side of the aisle you are on we all have something in common. We are all looking for solutions. Everyone wants America to be better. Put the labels aside and look at the person and not the party.
And whatever you do – don’t ruin relationships because of it. In the long run if you sit down with someone and talk politics you will find that you have more in common than you think. And remember, what you see on TV is not what is really going on as people are speaking face-to-face. And especially, don’t fight with your friends about politics!