Letitia Hanke is the chief executive officer and president of ARS Roofing, Solar and Electric in Santa Rosa. She grew up in Lake County and attended Sonoma State University from 1993 to 1997 with an emphasis on recording and performing arts in the music department. “I still enjoy getting away in my home studio,” she says. With a great love for Sonoma County, Hanke and her 14-year-old son, Emil, live in Windsor where she plans to stay.
Hanke is also the founder of The LIME Foundation (named after Emil, spelled backwards,) a nonprofit supporting musical education, the performing arts and general education needs. ARS roofing donates up to 5 percent of the earnings from each job to the The LIME Foundation, helping young women and men learn the construction trades through vocational program, called NextGen Trades Academy.
Do you prefer exercising your body or your mind?
Well, if lifting an ice cream cone to my mouth counts as a bicep curl, then for sure exercising my body is my preference. Seriously, both are equally important. I don’t get to the gym every day, but I stay active, and I exercise my mind every day—something new is always going on in there.
Are you more inclined to “build your own empire” or “unleash the potential of others?”
Building my own empire is important to me, and by doing that, I have the time to unleash the potential of others. I feel that’s what I’m doing now.
Who’s the smartest person you know?
My mother sacrificed so much for me and my brother. She had opportunities to go to college and have higher paying jobs, but instead she chose to give birth to us and move to the country. She’s a brilliant woman, and I’m lucky to have had her guide me in the right direction all these years.
If you were going to a costume party next week, what would you wear?
’80s, baby—I’m such an ’80s rock girl! I have boxes of ’80s clothes that I look for the opportunity to wear.
If you could visit with any person in history, who would it be and why?
Jesus. After reading all the stories about him, he is the only person in history I would love to visit with.
What lasting lesson did you learn from your parents?
Always be honest. My parents taught me that honesty is truly the best policy. I’ve grown up believing that, living that and teaching that to my son.
How would you describe your most magical childhood moment?
I was bullied as a young girl for several years. My music teacher taught me how to play the trumpet when I was 8 so I would have a way to channel my sadness through music. By the time I was 9, I was playing in the high school band and the most magical moment was when one of the high school kids stuck up for me against my biggest bully. I’ll never forget it.
If you had to volunteer for any worldwide organization, which one would you choose?
The National Guard. When natural disasters happen, I always want to jump off my couch and help. I send money, but to be there hands-on and helping is what I wish I could do.
How has having a son changed you?
My son is my miracle child. I wasn’t supposed to be able to have children, yet he pressed through even though I had two late-stage miscarriages. He has taught me that there is more love in this world than anyone could imagine. The love from my child keeps me motivated to get up and work hard every day. His love makes me want to spread my love to others in need.
Cows grazing along hillsides and in seaside meadows are a picturesque and familiar sight in Marin and Sonoma counties. Dairy farms have been a local presence for more than 100 years, but thes...