Meet Rod

Meet Rod

Meet Rod

A LIFE OF

Service-First Leadership

From an early age, Rod has had plenty of leadership opportunities. Sixteen years on Elkhart’s City Council taught him how to legislate. His background and character qualify him to lead Elkhart into his vision for Elkhart: a city that provides abundance of opportunity so that all may thrive. As mayor, Rod intends to build on a foundation of partnerships to foster economic growth and make sure all residents have access to democratic processes.

Rod’s vision is rooted in his personal family experiences. He is a native of Elkhart and is proud to be an active member in the community alongside his wife Regina, who is employed by Elkhart Community Schools as an early college career counselor at Elkhart Central, and their children. His mother and grandmother were teachers who nurtured his sense of public service, gave him a broad perspective, and taught him to value the entire community he loves.

To know Rod is to be inspired by his sense of optimism and determination. He firmly believes that a city is only as strong as the citizens who reside within it. When just one is left behind, all lose.

Rod’s experience as a leader began early as his mother, Ella Mae Roberson, encouraged him to “commit to do your best and don’t be a follower.”

“My mother was a teacher, social worker and community leader,” says Rod. “Watching her create relationships and care for people gave me the interest and commitment to public service.”

Rod’s mother passed away suddenly when he was only 14. Following Ella Mae’s death, Rod’s father, Herron Roberson, shouldered his marriage and family commitment alone. Herron’s ultimate goal was to make sure his children graduated from college. “Observing my dad become and remain a single parent while achieving the goal he and my mom shared created a deep sense of the importance of family.”

Rod was a standout student-athlete first at Roosevelt Elementary and then at Pierre Moran Junior High and Elkhart Central. He led Central to a sectional title and earned All-American and All-State honors in both football and basketball. He was also a member of student government and a student leader in several service clubs.

He earned a scholarship to Northwestern University where he graduated with a B.A. in Economics. While playing basketball at an elite level in the Big 10, he was also active on campus in multiple organizations and activities.

Then the NBA drafted him, and he played two seasons of professional basketball overseas. These athletic experiences cemented in Rod the value of team collaboration and all the leadership skills it requires. Teamwork continues to be something that plays a big role in all aspects of his success.

Following his accomplished academic and athletic career, Rod continued to hone his leadership skills in the private sector.

Corporate: Rod’s professional life has included working for Coca-Cola USA, Miller Brewing Company, Gallo Winery and Coachman Industries. In those roles he developed foundational skills in sales and project management and rose to positions of leadership. Those experiences broadened to include budget planning, recruiting, and executive and organizational development as he returned to Elkhart.

Nonprofit: Rod transitioned into nonprofit leadership beginning in 2011. He spent the next six years as Executive Director of Church Community Services Inc. (CCS), a faith-based nonprofit agency that serves the needs of people in poverty in Elkhart County. During his tenure at CCS, Rod expanded the budget from $600,000 to $2.6 million within a 3-year period and successfully led the completion of a $1.6 million capital drive to renovate and upgrade their facility. CCS also expanded its programs, overall reach, and advocacy within the community at this time.

Education: In 2017 Rod began his current role in the public education sector at Elkhart Community Schools (ECS). As Director of Co-Curricular Programming for ECS, Rod leads the development of district-wide plans for robust student activities.

Rod believes in serving beyond professional sett. He feels blessed to have had opportunities to invest himself in other significant causes.

Government: Rod was elected to the Elkhart City Council for the first time in 2000 where he fulfilled 16 years as a Councilperson At-Large. Leadership roles on Council included finance chair, parliamentarian, vice president, and two years as Council president in his third term. Rod was a trailblazer, leading the way as the first African American and longest serving Democrat in an at-large city council seat. He led all Democratic council candidates in votes in all his elections.

Visionary volunteerism: Rod has shared his leadership skills as a volunteer and community visionary in other ways, too. He was instrumental in started Letting Education Advance People (LEAP) and Back-2-School Elkhart (B2SE). Both organizations were designed to empower Elkhart’s students. LEAP assisted over 1,200 high school students in completing their graduation requirements. B2SE helped over 25,000 students get ready to begin their new school year.

Rod has served on numerous boards, including Heart City Health Center, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart General Hospital, United Way, and the YMCA, often in leadership roles. He was instrumental in directing Heart City to open a new facility that serves Elkhart’s southside residents and has always been active with neighborhood development and citizens’ issues.

Ensuring that everyone has a voice in this community will continue to be Rod’s priority as mayor. He has had many opportunities to witness what he describes as a “raw vulnerability” in people. His sensitivity to that contributes to the deep value he places on service to his community.

Now Rod seeks to earn the support of his community so that, as mayor, he can work with the people of Elkhart to improve the quality of life and the city’s overall livability. As you can see, his life displays the level of dedication and integrity necessary to govern efficiently and effectively for all.

Will you join in this transformational campaign? With you and all the people of this city by his side, Rod Roberson looks forward to leading Elkhart as its mayor.

A LIFE OF

Service-First Leadership

From an early age, Rod has had plenty of leadership opportunities. Sixteen years on Elkhart’s City Council taught him how to legislate. His background and character qualify him to lead Elkhart into his vision for Elkhart: a city that provides abundance of opportunity so that all may thrive. As mayor, Rod intends to build on a foundation of partnerships to foster economic growth and make sure all residents have access to democratic processes.

Rod’s vision is rooted in his personal family experiences. He is a native of Elkhart and is proud to be an active member in the community alongside his wife Regina, who is employed by Elkhart Community Schools as an early college career counselor at Elkhart Central, and their children. His mother and grandmother were teachers who nurtured his sense of public service, gave him a broad perspective, and taught him to value the entire community he loves.

To know Rod is to be inspired by his sense of optimism and determination. He firmly believes that a city is only as strong as the citizens who reside within it. When just one is left behind, all lose.

Rod’s experience as a leader began early as his mother, Ella Mae Roberson, encouraged him to “commit to do your best and don’t be a follower.”

“My mother was a teacher, social worker and community leader,” says Rod. “Watching her create relationships and care for people gave me the interest and commitment to public service.”

Rod’s mother passed away suddenly when he was only 14. Following Ella Mae’s death, Rod’s father, Herron Roberson, shouldered his marriage and family commitment alone. Herron’s ultimate goal was to make sure his children graduated from college. “Observing my dad become and remain a single parent while achieving the goal he and my mom shared created a deep sense of the importance of family.”

Rod was a standout student-athlete first at Roosevelt Elementary and then at Pierre Moran Junior High and Elkhart Central. He led Central to a sectional title and earned All-American and All-State honors in both football and basketball. He was also a member of student government and a student leader in several service clubs.

He earned a scholarship to Northwestern University where he graduated with a B.A. in Economics. While playing basketball at an elite level in the Big 10, he was also active on campus in multiple organizations and activities.

Then the NBA drafted him, and he played two seasons of professional basketball overseas. These athletic experiences cemented in Rod the value of team collaboration and all the leadership skills it requires. Teamwork continues to be something that plays a big role in all aspects of his success.

Following his accomplished academic and athletic career, Rod continued to hone his leadership skills in the private sector.

Corporate: Rod’s professional life has included working for Coca-Cola USA, Miller Brewing Company, Gallo Winery and Coachman Industries. In those roles he developed foundational skills in sales and project management and rose to positions of leadership. Those experiences broadened to include budget planning, recruiting, and executive and organizational development as he returned to Elkhart.

Nonprofit: Rod transitioned into nonprofit leadership beginning in 2011. He spent the next six years as Executive Director of Church Community Services Inc. (CCS), a faith-based nonprofit agency that serves the needs of people in poverty in Elkhart County. During his tenure at CCS, Rod expanded the budget from $600,000 to $2.6 million within a 3-year period and successfully led the completion of a $1.6 million capital drive to renovate and upgrade their facility. CCS also expanded its programs, overall reach, and advocacy within the community at this time.

Education: In 2017 Rod began his current role in the public education sector at Elkhart Community Schools (ECS). As Director of Co-Curricular Programming for ECS, Rod leads the development of district-wide plans for robust student activities.

Rod believes in serving beyond professional sett. He feels blessed to have had opportunities to invest himself in other significant causes.

Government: Rod was elected to the Elkhart City Council for the first time in 2000 where he fulfilled 16 years as a Councilperson At-Large. Leadership roles on Council included finance chair, parliamentarian, vice president, and two years as Council president in his third term. Rod was a trailblazer, leading the way as the first African American and longest serving Democrat in an at-large city council seat. He led all Democratic council candidates in votes in all his elections.

Visionary volunteerism: Rod has shared his leadership skills as a volunteer and community visionary in other ways, too. He was instrumental in started Letting Education Advance People (LEAP) and Back-2-School Elkhart (B2SE). Both organizations were designed to empower Elkhart’s students. LEAP assisted over 1,200 high school students in completing their graduation requirements. B2SE helped over 25,000 students get ready to begin their new school year.

Rod has served on numerous boards, including Heart City Health Center, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart General Hospital, United Way, and the YMCA, often in leadership roles. He was instrumental in directing Heart City to open a new facility that serves Elkhart’s southside residents and has always been active with neighborhood development and citizens’ issues.

Ensuring that everyone has a voice in this community will continue to be Rod’s priority as mayor. He has had many opportunities to witness what he describes as a “raw vulnerability” in people. His sensitivity to that contributes to the deep value he places on service to his community.

Now Rod seeks to earn the support of his community so that, as mayor, he can work with the people of Elkhart to improve the quality of life and the city’s overall livability. As you can see, his life displays the level of dedication and integrity necessary to govern efficiently and effectively for all.

Will you join in this transformational campaign? With you and all the people of this city by his side, Rod Roberson looks forward to leading Elkhart as its mayor.

A LIFE OF

Service-First Leadership

From an early age, Rod has had plenty of leadership opportunities. Sixteen years on Elkhart’s City Council taught him how to legislate. His background and character qualify him to lead Elkhart into his vision for Elkhart: a city that provides abundance of opportunity so that all may thrive. As mayor, Rod intends to build on a foundation of partnerships to foster economic growth and make sure all residents have access to democratic processes.

Rod’s vision is rooted in his personal family experiences. He is a native of Elkhart and is proud to be an active member in the community alongside his wife Regina, who is employed by Elkhart Community Schools as an early college career counselor at Elkhart Central, and their children. His mother and grandmother were teachers who nurtured his sense of public service, gave him a broad perspective, and taught him to value the entire community he loves.

To know Rod is to be inspired by his sense of optimism and determination. He firmly believes that a city is only as strong as the citizens who reside within it. When just one is left behind, all lose.

Rod’s experience as a leader began early as his mother, Ella Mae Roberson, encouraged him to “commit to do your best and don’t be a follower.”

“My mother was a teacher, social worker and community leader,” says Rod. “Watching her create relationships and care for people gave me the interest and commitment to public service.”

Rod’s mother passed away suddenly when he was only 14. Following Ella Mae’s death, Rod’s father, Herron Roberson, shouldered his marriage and family commitment alone. Herron’s ultimate goal was to make sure his children graduated from college. “Observing my dad become and remain a single parent while achieving the goal he and my mom shared created a deep sense of the importance of family.”

Rod was a standout student-athlete first at Roosevelt Elementary and then at Pierre Moran Junior High and Elkhart Central. He led Central to a sectional title and earned All-American and All-State honors in both football and basketball. He was also a member of student government and a student leader in several service clubs.

He earned a scholarship to Northwestern University where he graduated with a B.A. in Economics. While playing basketball at an elite level in the Big 10, he was also active on campus in multiple organizations and activities.

Then the NBA drafted him, and he played two seasons of professional basketball overseas. These athletic experiences cemented in Rod the value of team collaboration and all the leadership skills it requires. Teamwork continues to be something that plays a big role in all aspects of his success.

Following his accomplished academic and athletic career, Rod continued to hone his leadership skills in the private sector.

Corporate: Rod’s professional life has included working for Coca-Cola USA, Miller Brewing Company, Gallo Winery and Coachman Industries. In those roles he developed foundational skills in sales and project management and rose to positions of leadership. Those experiences broadened to include budget planning, recruiting, and executive and organizational development as he returned to Elkhart.

Nonprofit: Rod transitioned into nonprofit leadership beginning in 2011. He spent the next six years as Executive Director of Church Community Services Inc. (CCS), a faith-based nonprofit agency that serves the needs of people in poverty in Elkhart County. During his tenure at CCS, Rod expanded the budget from $600,000 to $2.6 million within a 3-year period and successfully led the completion of a $1.6 million capital drive to renovate and upgrade their facility. CCS also expanded its programs, overall reach, and advocacy within the community at this time.

Education: In 2017 Rod began his current role in the public education sector at Elkhart Community Schools (ECS). As Director of Co-Curricular Programming for ECS, Rod leads the development of district-wide plans for robust student activities.

Rod believes in serving beyond professional sett. He feels blessed to have had opportunities to invest himself in other significant causes.

Government: Rod was elected to the Elkhart City Council for the first time in 2000 where he fulfilled 16 years as a Councilperson At-Large. Leadership roles on Council included finance chair, parliamentarian, vice president, and two years as Council president in his third term. Rod was a trailblazer, leading the way as the first African American and longest serving Democrat in an at-large city council seat. He led all Democratic council candidates in votes in all his elections.

Visionary volunteerism: Rod has shared his leadership skills as a volunteer and community visionary in other ways, too. He was instrumental in started Letting Education Advance People (LEAP) and Back-2-School Elkhart (B2SE). Both organizations were designed to empower Elkhart’s students. LEAP assisted over 1,200 high school students in completing their graduation requirements. B2SE helped over 25,000 students get ready to begin their new school year.

Rod has served on numerous boards, including Heart City Health Center, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart General Hospital, United Way, and the YMCA, often in leadership roles. He was instrumental in directing Heart City to open a new facility that serves Elkhart’s southside residents and has always been active with neighborhood development and citizens’ issues.

Ensuring that everyone has a voice in this community will continue to be Rod’s priority as mayor. He has had many opportunities to witness what he describes as a “raw vulnerability” in people. His sensitivity to that contributes to the deep value he places on service to his community.

Now Rod seeks to earn the support of his community so that, as mayor, he can work with the people of Elkhart to improve the quality of life and the city’s overall livability. As you can see, his life displays the level of dedication and integrity necessary to govern efficiently and effectively for all.

Will you join in this transformational campaign? With you and all the people of this city by his side, Rod Roberson looks forward to leading Elkhart as its mayor.

What Others Say About Rod

“When I think of a person who is God first and family second with plenty of energy left to serve this community Rod Roberson is the first name that comes to mind. I’ve known him for over twenty years with our sons being the same age. During those years we have spent a lot of time together at school functions and athletic events sitting side by side. As usually the youngest father amongst the parents, because of when I started, often I paid attention to how Rod interacted with his children as an example of how to treat my own. In this life we will know a lot of people but there is a select few of which we can actually learn from and Rod is definitely one of those people. In the Mayor’s office we need integrity, community awareness, family oriented, and well respected human being. All of those traits make up who Rod is so let’s do all we can to make sure this wonderful man is the next mayor of our great city, vote Rod Roberson Democrat for Mayor!”

Rodney Dale

“I first met Rod, in 2005, while he was an At-Large councilperson on the Elkhart City Council. After the meeting, I introduced myself to Rod, because I felt that he demonstrated a strong sense of critical thinking and thoughtfulness towards his work as a local legislator. I was impressed that Elkhart had such a dedicated person representing the city. Out of all the council members in attendance, Rod was the only one who really sought understanding of issues and used insightful questions to gain clarity. Since then, I have experience Rod in many different settings – as Exec Director of Church Community Services (caring for Elkhart’s  “least of these”) and as an AMBS board member seeking to understand and support a small educational institution that provides diversity in Elkhart. We need a more diverse economy and a city that appreciates and supports all its residents – I believe Rod can and will work to that end. He has demonstrated that in many ways – returning to Elkhart as an adult, serving multiple terms on City Council, as Exec Director of CCS and now serving as an administrator in the Elkhart school system looking for ways to engage young people and help them to grow into productive adults.”

Ron Ringenberg

“I met Rod Roberson roughly two decades ago when we served together on a steering committee for Elkhart Study Circles On Race Relations. Over the course of several years, we spent countless hours in a diverse group of people sharing personal stories around race — and exploring ways to move forward together towards greater social equality. Rod consistently demonstrated honesty, strength, patience, intelligence and warmth. He has an extraordinary ability to bring people to their best selves. I have all the confidence in the world that he will make an excellent mayor.”

Julia King

“Rod has had decades of experience from growing up here, years on Elkhart City Council, strong Leadership in Church Community Services and Elkhart Community Schools. Rod’s energy, connections, drive –to move forward–, and knowledge of Elkhart’s many diverse (yet common) needs of neighborhoods is what will help Elkhart thrive. Rod will continue to bring us together in our great river town!”

Mary & Jim Rasp

“I first met Rod Roberson when he was hired as executive director of Church Community Services. During my board service with that agency I served as board chair for a two year period. Rod and I worked together directly during that time of unparalleled growth and development for CCS. I came to know Rod as a leader who possessed exactly the right combination of management and people skills that allowed CCS to grow in directions that exponentially increased its capacity to serve the people of Elkhart. From my perspective as a downtown business owner it is apparent that Elkhart is transitioning itself into a vibrant community. Rod’s experience on the city council, his leadership, and his vision for the future is a perfect fit for the City of Elkhart at this crucial time in our history. I unconditionally endorse Rod Roberson as the next Mayor of Elkhart.”

Ed Chester

“We are excited to see Rod Roberson step forward like he has many times before and run for the office of mayor. We can honestly say before we even knew he ran for city council and seen him in many community events as well as small businesses, he has been consistent in character and he never let his title or position change who he authentically is. We’ve known him and the family for about 5 years now and they have advised us on many subjects that has kept us accountable to our family and peers. I have always called Rod Roberson mayor for some years now, way before this announcement. Anybody who has crossed his path already knows he is a great listener and very knowledgeable about the history of Elkhart and the many cultural diverse communities. With his leadership I believe our city will grow stronger moving forward. We endorse Rod Roberson for Mayor.”

Javon & Demond Johnson
“I met Rod in the summer of 2004 during the community organizing effort to save the Roosevelt elementary school building from demolition, and keep it as an asset for housing and community activities. It was a broad-based campaign that lasted over three years and involved Elkhart residents from all over the city and all walks of life. Rod played an important connecting role in this campaign. His knowledge of the neighborhood’s needs and his familiarity with the city’s decision-making processes were crucial to its success. Now all of Elkhart benefits from the Historic Roosevelt Center being a hub of many community activities! And all of Elkhart can be assured that they will benefit from Rod Robertson’s leadership. He will bring the same wonderful ability to connect and search for solutions that benefit all to the office of Mayor. What’s more, his ability to inspire others to get involved and contribute positively to the community will strengthen our city at every level. I will definitely be supporting Rod Roberson during this upcoming election.”
Sarah Nahar
“I have known Rod for over 30 years and have found him to be caring, compassionate, selfless and not only willing to listen to everyone but he encourages everyone to get involved and have a voice. His tireless involvement in the community shows he is a man of service and integrity who only wants what is best for he City of Elkhart. “Building Elkhart together” is how he wants to make Elkhart a better place. I have served with Rod and Regina in the community and I know first hand all I have said to be true. I know he will continue to be a servant, and not a politician, with the same passion he has shown in all his past ventures. I challenge all my friends and family to get involved and support Rod in becoming our next Mayor of Elkhart.”
Queen Lovelady
“I have known Rod for a decade, and am totally convinced that he would make an excellent Mayor for our city. Every time I see Rod, he is genuinely interested in my life and excited to see me and to connect, and I know he offers this to so many people in the diverse communities he is connected to. Rod is not only personable, he also brings tremendous experience in a wide range of sectors, and would bring all of this skill with him to such a position. He truly believes in the opportunities that Elkhart has to offer ALL of its people, and I trust that he would make more of those opportunities into realities if he were our Mayor.”
Nicole Bauman
“I’ve known Rod for over 50 years. Rod possesses the intellectual, interpersonal and civic-minded skill set needed to initiate Elkhart’s trajectory towards becoming a truly outstanding city. Since our teenage years, I’ve witnessed Rod’s leadership acumen grow exponentially. Given the anticipation of the historic and progressive future for our hometown, I endorse Rod Roberson for Mayor of Elkhart.”
Michael Johnson
“Proud to support you buddy! And I’m gonna tell everyone I come in contact with to do the same.”
Elgin's Barber Shop
“Greetings family and friends, I’m a born native of Elkhart, IN. I have had the privilege of knowing his family for many years. His family was one of the key African-American families in Elkhart that was very active in the community. This history and connection to our community enables Rod to possess rich knowledge of what has been, and certainly what is needed now in a town like Elkhart. It is my firm belief that Rod Roberson is the best person to become our next Mayor within the City of Elkhart. Some of the areas that affirm my belief in Rod are his: strong political background, due diligence with others, representation of all people, past employment experiences, and educational experiences/background. I would be remiss to not mention that Rod is a resident of the Elkhart Southside and has a big heart. This my friends, helps put the “Heart” in Elkhart. I, Amy Riley-Gilbert, believe that Rod will make the positive difference that all citizens of Elkhart need. I endorse Rod Roberson to become our next Mayor of Elkhart!”
Amy Riley-Gilbert
“I have known Rod Roberson for nearly 3 decades through our work together on several community concerns. Over the last 15 years, I have been in a unique position to witness Rod’s character and integrity first-hand, as we have worked even closer together! I believe that Rod is a true leader. Effective leaders bring those who disagree together to find common ground. Bridge-building has been a struggle in Elkhart city politics. Rod has proven time and time again that he has the ability to lead. Please vote for Rod. Elkhart needs him.”
Jim Siegmann
“On behalf of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, Affiliated with A.F.L. – C.I.O., we proudly endorse Rod Roberson for Mayor of Elkhart. Rod has vast experience on city council, working with local organizations as well as protecting workers’ rights. We trust that Rod will work in partnership with local businesses and building trades to progress the interests of the community.”
International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150

Building Elkhart Together

Each and every resident has a critical role to play in building a city government that works for everyone. Our campaign will engage residents and seek feedback from any and everyone that would like to see our community thrive. Learn more about Rod’s vision for Elkhart here:  

LEARN MORE

Building Elkhart Together

Each and every resident has a critical role to play in building a city government that works for everyone. Our campaign will engage residents and seek feedback from any and everyone that would like to see our community thrive. Learn more about Rod’s vision for Elkhart here:

LEARN MORE