Trustee Profile: Kristen Conte
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Alma Mater: George Washington University
Graduate Study: None, officially. However, I have been taking Spanish classes for the past year and am greatly enjoying learning to speak a foreign language. As a “hard” science major at George Washington University, I was forgiven some of the “soft” science requirements that other undergraduates had to fulfill. In retrospect, not learning a foreign language was a disservice to me, so I am now trying to complete my education.
Employment: Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Vice President, Finance and Administration.
Accomplishment of which you are most proud: Professionally, I would point to the Lifetime Achievement Award I received in 2007 [at the Nonprofit CFO of the Year Awards Luncheon]. It was quite an honor to be singled out for the years I’ve spent working in nonprofits. Personally, I’d point to my wonderful husband and two great kids.
Most memorable Trinity moment: Being invited to serve on Trinity’s Board. I came to know Pat McGuire – and by extension Trinity – when she served on the Meyer Foundation’s board. I was struck by her thoughtfulness and dedication, and am so happy to be working with her and Trinity’s wonderful staff and students.
Last book read: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I have been a devotee of books about or set in India ever since my son was in sixth grade and he asked his father, sister and me to read Life of Pi by Yann Martel with him. That was 10 years ago, and we are still talking about that book. My favorite book is The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, but The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga comes in a close second. And, of course, there’s anything and everything written by Jhumpa Lahiri.
My idea of a perfect vacation: Anywhere in Hawaii. I had the pleasure of living there for three years when I was in my 20s. That state deserves every superlative ever written about it. From perfect weather, to beautiful beaches, to lovely people – it is paradise.
If I were stranded on a deserted island I would have to have: My family, books, and pencil and paper.
The three people I would most like to have dinner with: Malcolm X, Loren Eiseley and Bill Clinton. To me, each man represents one thread of a perfect conversation: I’d love to know what path Malcolm X would have chosen for his life, so he represents anticipation. Loren Eiseley would ground the conversation in the natural and philosophical worlds, so he represents meaning. And Bill Clinton knows how to get things done under difficult circumstances, so he represents our ability to move from thought to action.
Why I am a Trinity trustee: I understand what many of Trinity’s students are going through. I put myself through college while working, marrying and raising children. Whatever level of success I have in life, I owe to my education, which is still, and always will be, a work in progress.