By Mary Howard
As a founding member and chair of the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC), Patricia Mairs “Trish” Klestadt ’80, P’09, ’11 is helping to engage Trinity women in the life of the College. “As a female graduate and the mother of two female graduates, I could not be more vested in supporting our fellow alumnae.”
Created in 2010 — in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of coeducation at Trinity — by female trustees of the College, the WLC encourages alumnae to help shape Trinity’s future and to be responsive to the needs of female undergraduates, she says. It does this in three ways: strengthening alumnae ties to the College by encouraging greater involvement in leadership and philanthropy, supporting Trinity women at all stages of their careers, and mentoring undergraduates as they prepare for their professional journeys after college.
In the six years since its inception, the WLC has grown its membership from 27 to nearly 300 women across the country. “It’s an exciting time for women at Trinity,” says Klestadt. WLC programming ranges from small alumni gatherings to larger networking events. This past February, the council co-sponsored a Career Exploration Trek in Washington, D.C., with the Career Development Center, where 16 students visited seven sites in the city — including Georgetown University and Capitol Hill — and met with alumnae at a networking reception.
Klestadt is particularly proud of the first Women’s Leadership Council Scholarship, awarded this past spring to Gabriella Brown ’19. “Philanthropy is a large part of our mission, and we are very excited to have established a scholarship fund, which we hope to grow.”
The success of the WLC is no surprise to Melissa Bronzino Regan ’87, associate director of alumni relations, council member, and staff liaison to the council. “Trish epitomizes everything the WLC represents. She is an incredible leader with a finger on the pulse of what is happening on campus now.”
An art history and English literature major, Klestadt turned her liberal arts education into a successful career in law. After earning a degree from Brooklyn Law School, she worked as a legal recruiter for Fergus Associates in New York City before starting her own firm in Scarsdale, New York. “At Trinity, I learned how to think critically and express those thoughts in writing,” Klestadt says.
She has remained involved with her alma mater since graduation, serving as a class agent and as a member of the Class of 1980’s Executive Board and of the Reunion Gift Committee. She and her husband, Peter, also chaired the Parent Directors of Trinity College and served on the Board of Fellows together. “I like to spend my volunteer resources where they can make a difference,” says Klestadt, who believes that Trinity’s low student-to-faculty ratio allows for meaningful student mentoring.
As an undergraduate, she and classmates enjoyed dinners at the home of Alden Gordon ’69, now Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts. “He and his wife, Jean, were great mentors. Jean [Cadogan, professor of fine arts] worked at the Wadsworth at the time, and they were very welcoming to students,” she says. Gordon advised Klestadt’s interdisciplinary honors thesis on Baudelaire as an art critic.
Klestadt passed her love of art history to her daughters, Alexandra ’09 and Lauren ’11, who both majored in the subject. Lauren is an associate art buyer for One Kings Lane, an online home furnishings retailer. Alexandra worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Sotheby’s in New York City and is now an underwriter for ARIS, a fine art title insurance company. She is also a J.D. candidate at New York Law School, further following in her mother’s footsteps. Both daughters are active members of the WLC and are helping students and recent graduates network and find career opportunities. Says Klestadt of her daughters, “I am so grateful they received the same wonderful education that I did.”