MIT's Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center will kick off its 28th year at MIT with a new leader. Kate Trimble, who starts her appointment on Oct. 17, brings significant experience and a passion for service and community development to the PKG Center, which is home to longstanding programs like Public Service Fellowships and the IDEAS Global Challenge. Most recently, Trimble served as the deputy director of the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University.
“I’m really excited to welcome Kate to MIT and the Division of Student Life,” said Suzy Nelson, vice president and dean for student life. “Her background and experience fit well with the PKG Center’s mission, and DSL’s emphasis on community engagement.”
Trimble’s interest in public service began long before her tenure at Brown, however. She received her BA in philosophy from Bard College and her JD from Georgetown University Law Center. While taking a legal clinic course on housing and community development at Georgetown, Trimble realized her passion for public service and community involvement. “It was an eye-opening experience,” said Trimble. “I got to know the tenants and their families and their community. And through those relationships, I felt the very real consequences of the work that I was doing. And I saw both how vulnerable, and how resilient, communities can be.” Her practical experience then informed her academic work and career choice. “I started to make connections between what I was learning in the classroom and how those ideas landed — or didn’t — out in the world. So when I graduated from law school, I wanted a career where I could help make communities work better for the people who live in them.”
Her desire to improve communities led her to the Lawrenceville Corporation, a nonprofit community and urban development organization in Pittsburgh. There, she served as executive director, developing residential and commercial real estate, marketing the local business districts, and leading community planning efforts. “I lived in the neighborhood where I worked, and worked alongside so many talented, smart, diverse people,” reflected Trimble. “Together, we built a stronger community that was better for them, better for their kids and families, better for their businesses and livelihoods, and better for me and my family, too.”
Subsequently, Trimble moved to Brown’s Swearer Center, where for more than seven years, she advanced the university’s commitment to public service and community involvement. At the Swearer Center, Trimble forged relationships with students as well as faculty. “Collaboratively developing new programs with [the Brown community] and community partners was invigorating,” she said. “The result was so much better for having an inclusive process with lots of different perspectives in the mix.”
In addition to her role at the Swearer Center, Trimble was an adjunct lecturer in sociology and taught a course called Investing in Social Change: The Practice of Philanthropy. Her experience as both a faculty member and a staff member will enhance the PKG Center’s ability to engage all areas of the MIT community to fulfill MIT’s mission to “serve the nation and the world.”
“We’re trying to do public service in the best way possible,” explained PKG Center Communications Coordinator Laura Anca Chichisan. The center, which prides itself on its work with community partnerships, believes Trimble can help them achieve that goal. Additionally, the center will look to Trimble for her experience in strategic planning and organization. “The PKG Center has a long history of supporting really creative, talented students and their public service projects,” said Trimble. “I’m really excited to get to campus and get to know the students, alumni, faculty and staff members that make the PKG Center such a special place.”
In appointing Trimble, the PKG Center looks forward to establishing innovative new programs and stronger involvement from all members of the MIT community. And Trimble is just as enthusiastic to become part of the MIT community. “Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a more exciting next step in my career.”
Words by Isabella Dionne.