By Kathy Andrews
When it comes to volunteering for her alma mater, Elissa Raether Kovas ’93, P’25 says all the opportunities to personally connect with Trinity alumni, parents, and students are what really resonate with her.
At Trinity, Kovas double majored in interdisciplinary studies and history—medieval studies and art history were favorites—and competed with the alpine ski team. When her son, Reed Kovas ’25, began considering colleges, she was interested to see, through his eyes, how Trinity differentiated itself. “He liked Trinity’s urban-global approach. And he was impressed that when he met my friends from Trinity, he heard about different internships and jobs they had during college,” says Kovas.
Kovas has spent her career in the fashion industry and owns a clothing company, Shellkare, so it’s not surprising that she worked at Ann Taylor during college. She points out that two close friends interned at the Wadsworth Atheneum. “Eventually they parlayed that experience and their Trinity degrees into working at Sotheby’s.” Says Kovas, “A lot of people don’t realize that the Atheneum is one of the finest small museums in America.”
Kovas is passionate about squash, which she took up about four years ago, after her husband and Reed convinced her to try it. She started playing doubles, became hooked, and soon began volunteering with MetroSquash, a Chicago-based urban youth squash and academic program, for which she serves as a board member. Reed volunteered with MetroSquash, too, helping coach younger kids on the court and with their studies. She is delighted that he will play squash at Trinity and that there are opportunities with Capitol Squash, based on campus, for student-athletes to be involved in providing life-changing opportunities for Hartford youth through squash and academic mentoring.
As co-chair (along with Peter Duncan ’83, P’13, ’14) of Trinity’s athletics fundraising campaign, Kovas talks with many Trinity community members about the importance of the student-athlete experience. The campaign aims to raise $65 million by the college’s bicentennial in 2023—for facilities modernization, to endow the athletics program, and in annual support for teams. Says Kovas, “We need as much help as possible—not just monetary help, but testimonials and networking assistance can make a big difference, too.”
Kovas was pleased to attend the September ribbon cutting for the Tansill Muldoon Stadium at Jessee/Miller and Robin L. Sheppard fields and is enthused about renovations that successful fundraising will make possible at Ferris Athletic Center, including state-of-the-art squash facilities. “Trinity’s coaches and kids work so hard. They do an amazing job with the facilities we have, but it’s time to upgrade.” Adds Kovas, “Sports are a key component of the Trinity experience. And during COVID, it’s been one of the few outlets the kids have had to keep their mental health strong.”
Kovas also is a class agent and past member of Trinity’s Board of Fellows and the Long Walk Societies Committee. For several years she has been an admissions volunteer in Chicago, where she often represents Trinity in person. “We’re in the land of the Big Ten,” she says. “Our high schools are huge, and sometimes outside of the Northeast, parents don’t understand the value of the NESCAC [New England Small College Athletic Conference] or a small liberal arts college.”
With her son now at Trinity, Kovas anticipates traveling to campus more frequently from the family’s home in Lake Bluff, Illinois. “I love the volunteering that we’re doing, and I know that a lot of my fellow alumni and parents feel strongly about it, too.”