Michelle Theodat ’01

profile4DEGREE: B.A. in political science

JOB TITLE: Director of entertainment partnerships at the Natural Resources Defense Council

FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: The friends I made at Trinity are some of my dearest friends still. Also, study abroad. I think my semester in Rome was the most transformative time for my college career. I think I came back from that experience feeling much more confident, and it sort of put everything in perspective for me.

What is the mission of the Natural Resources Defense Council? The Natural Resources Defense Council’s purpose is to safeguard the earth: its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. NRDC is a solutions-focused organization and the nation’s most effective environmental action organization. We use law, science, and the support of 1.4 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.

What do you do in your role there? I utilize the entertainment industry and celebrities to help amplify our work by creating awareness, advocacy, and fundraising opportunities connected to NRDC’s work.

What do you find most rewarding about your work? For 10 years I was a talent manager, representing actors, which was a really great experience, but I found that at the end of the day, it wasn’t the most rewarding. I love that the work I do potentially helps NRDC do their work, which is incredibly important – SAVING OUR PLANET! And NRDC is truly on the ground, fighting the good fight. So by default, I feel like I’m indirectly fighting the good fight, too! I learn incredible things every day about the different battles NRDC is involved in – from incredible environmental justice work, protecting the Arctic Seas from drilling, to fighting the pesticides that are killing our bees, and everything in between – I am constantly motivated and passionate about my work.

Who are some of the celebrities you have worked with for the NRDC, and how do they help the organization? We are lucky to have some really incredible celebrity supporters. Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio are on our board and have been genuine, longtime voices in the environmental movement. We recently had a great fundraising event, a Night of Comedy, with Seth Meyers hosting and performances by Susie Essman, Larry David, Amy Schumer, and Jerry Seinfeld. Being fairly new to the gig (started here in September 2014), I’m looking for really unique opportunities to connect celebrities to our work, and I am working with our communications and marketing teams to create some fantastic campaigns.

How did your time at Trinity affect your career path? My career path is pretty abnormal … out of college, I applied to various public relations firms because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do and PR sounded interesting. I landed at a great crisis communications firm, Robinson Lerer & Montgomery, where I was an assistant for a year. Fantastic learning experience, but I wasn’t really passionate about IPOs or earnings reports. So, through a Trinity alum, I heard about a talent manager who was looking for an assistant. I didn’t know what talent managers did, but I did always had an interest in the entertainment industry and liked the idea of guiding someone’s career. I took the job at Lasher McManus Robinson Kipperman, and six months later, left with Perri Kipperman to start Kipperman Management. I worked with Perri for 10 years, quickly becoming a manager and representing my own roster of stage, film, and TV actors. When I decided to transition into nonprofit work, I took a leap of faith and was hired to freelance as the director of celebrity relations at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF while the director was on maternity leave. It was a hard decision to leave my clients and the company I had been with for 10 years, but it was a unique opportunity to work at an incredibly prestigious nonprofit, using my skills and background in entertainment. Although it was a temp position, it was exactly what I needed to head down the path that led me to the position at NRDC. I guess the moral of the story is: a liberal arts education gives you the tools to do anything! And sometimes you have to be in jobs, which lead you down the path to realize what you really want to do as a career.

What Trinity professor or course had the most profound effect on you? I remember Adrienne Fulco was my seminar professor, and we had a lot of lively discussions on constitutional law. I was really convinced I was going to go to law school in college and actually applied and got in, but I didn’t end up going. But I do remember enjoying Professor Fulco’s class.