Steering Committee: Kiersten von Trapp

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Kiersten von Trapp, G10

Steering Committee member and Research Associate at NMR Group, Inc.

Kiersten von Trapp, G10, played a pivotal role in the establishment of TEA as a graduate student intern at TIE. Since graduating with a Master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP), she has continued to be involved with the burgeoning alumni chapter. In January 2011, TIE intern and UEP colleague Libby Mahaffy talked with Kiersten about the formation of the Tufts Environmental Alumni group and her new career path.

Libby Mahaffy: How are you using what you learned at Tufts in your current profession?
Kiersten von Trapp:
I’m using it a lot – this is the first job that I’ve had that actually uses my degree! NMR [Group, the Somerville-based consulting firm where Kiersten works as a research associate] specializes in evaluation of energy efficiency programs, mostly for utility companies., Program evaluation is similar to what I did in my thesis. I also took a program evaluation class at Tufts and did statistical analysis for my internship, which have both been relevant to my job. We do process evaluation so there’s a lot of interviewing and analyzing qualitative data. I didn’t get the job that I have at NMR because I’m an energy efficiency guru; I got it because of what I had done in school. And I found the job through Off the Wall, the UEP weekly e-newsletter!

Why did you want to serve on the Tufts Environmental Alumni steering committee?
While at Tufts, I worked at Tufts Institute of the Environment. My role there was to create a connection between TIE and alumni who are interested in environmental issues either professionally or personally. This led to the formation of what is now the official TEA chapter. I worked with Alumni Relations and reached out to alumni; with help from TIE, I organized the website and the newsletter . I was automatically on the steering committee because of that. As a grad student, I don’t feel the same connection to Tufts the way I do to where I went to undergrad. But I do feel loyalty to TIE and to TEA; these were a large part of my grad school experience The steering committee is a great group. There are members of many different ages and experiences and we all have good ideas for the future of the chapter.

What are the next steps for the steering committee?
This is the first year that we will be an official chapter. We are working on creating more structure within the steering committee and moving forward with our ideas for the upcoming year. We’d like to have a career panel in the near future. If anyone has any events they’d like to see TEA coordinate, let us know! We are also working on ideas that include alumni outside of the Boston area. There was a TIE/TEA cocktail hour at the Geophysical Union Conference [in San Francisco last November]. That’s a good way to get into other cities, especially if we know that TEA members will be in attendance.

Why would an alumnus want to be involved in TEA?
One reason is networking. TEA members already have at least two common bonds: Tufts and environmental interests. Making connections [with other alumni] opens up a whole new resource for people who are looking for jobs or looking to hire. TEA also provides a platform where people from all different places on the environmental interest spectrum can interact. Hopefully we can foster that through events. We also have a Facebook page and LinkedIn group [where alumni can interact].

What do you bring to the TEA chapter and steering committee?
From working at TIE, I am kind of the current connection between TEA and TIE. TIE is really interested in being part of TEA; it’s important to have someone function as a point of connection between them. TIE can offer TEA co-sponsorship and act as TEA’s connection with the campus.

What should the TEA mascot be?
It should probably be my French Bulldog, Whiskey Girl; she’s the cutest thing ever.