Introducing Our Board of Trustees: An interview with trustee Catt Gagnon

This Monday, Parker hosted its first bimonthly meeting of our 2022-2023 Board of Trustees. Parker’s Board of Trustees is the governing body of our school. Together, this group of individuals works to establish school policies, provide sound financial management of the school’s assets, and hire and evaluate the Head of School. 
Parker is incredibly lucky to consistently boast such a dedicated group of individuals on our Board of Trustees, including parents, teachers, alumni-parents, friends of the school, and the Head. Professionally, these individuals bring a broad range of experience to their work as trustees: law, higher education, secondary and elementary education, medicine, business, finance, development, engineering, and technology.
This year, in an effort to connect and engage our communities across disciplines, we would like to take the opportunity to introduce and spotlight one board member per month. This month we are pleased to feature one of our newest Board members and Parker alumni, Catherine Gagnon.
Catherine (Catt) graduated from Parker in 2013 and attended Darrow School, where she graduated as Valedictorian in 2017. From there, she attended SUNY at Potsdam, graduating with double majors in archaeological studies (with concentration in geology) and anthropology (with a concentration in museum studies). Catt is currently pursuing her master’s in applied anthropology with a focus on cultural heritage at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she will graduate in the spring of 2023. After graduation, Catt hopes to work in either a museum or for a cultural resource management firm.
When she is not enthralled with her graduate studies, Catt can often be found in the gym, fencing with the University of Maryland fencing team. One of her favorite pastimes is crocheting while watching documentaries. When she travels back to Albany on her breaks, Catt can often be found working amongst the collections at the New York State Museum and researching chamber pots.
Catt joined our Parker Board of Trustees as a member of our Community Engagement Committee in the fall of 2021, where her perspective and work on enhancing engagement between community constituents was invaluable. This summer, Catt joined our Board of Trustees as a full time member, and we are thrilled that she has committed to sharing her talents, energy, and expertise as an alumni for the next three years.
Please read on to learn more about Catt, in her own words:
Why did you join the Parker Board of Trustees?
After graduating from Parker in 2013, I continued to go back for major events such as graduations and Fall Festivals. I wanted to be connected to the community even though I was in the next stage of my life. When I graduated high school and entered college, my involvement slowed because I was no longer nearby. However, I always had the intention to return, and I even dreamed about one day becoming a trustee. I just didn’t know how that would be possible.
Last summer, Joann Bennett approached me about working with Parker again as a committee member and potential trustee. Because everyone was now so well-versed in meeting remotely, I could join via Zoom. I was elated and immediately jumped on the opportunity to give back to a community that provided me with so much love and support. Last fall, I joined the Community Engagement Committee, where I worked closely with board members, teachers, and other community members to enhance experiences for Parker students that would push them toward success and provide them with new and diverse experiences. Towards the end of the academic year, I was invited to apply to become a full member of the Board of Trustees. I immediately applied, and a few days later I was accepted. I could not be happier. Serving on the board has been extremely exciting and rewarding. The best part about being a member of the Board of Trustees is the opportunity to give back to my community and ensure that future youth can be inspired to pursue their dreams. I am so excited and thankful to be a part of Parker in this capacity, and I look forward to working with the Parker community!
Can you share more broadly about how your experiences as a Parker student carried you forward into adulthood? 
Parker helped me figure out how I learn best at a time when I was not confident in my abilities. The teachers were extremely supportive, helping to guide me toward my future career as an archaeologist. Parker taught me the truth about American history, how to do conventional math, understand complex literature, and understand how the world around us was created. Additionally, Parker went above and beyond when teaching students how to deal with conflicting personalities, diversity, communication, and self-advocacy. Parker provided the fundamentals for how to function in an everyday workspace by giving me a tool kit of skills including problem-solving, teamwork, and perseverance. Ultimately, Parker provided me with a strong foundation of knowledge and skills that my peers in high school, undergraduate, and graduate school were not equipped with. When a student graduates from Parker, they are not graduating as a student, but as an individual equipped for a scholastic and real-world journey.  
What do you appreciate about Parker now that you are an adult?
As an adult, I am extremely thankful for the relationships that I made at Parker, both professionally with my teachers and also long-lasting friendships with my classmates. However, what I appreciate most was the gift of helping me to understand how to utilize my Dyslexia as a tool instead of carrying it as a burden. When I did not believe in my scholastic abilities, the teachers at Parker believed in me and helped me to recognize that I was an integral part of the Parker community. Without attending Parker, I firmly believe that I would not be where I am today. Parker gave me the tools and provided the support and guidance that I needed to become a success. I am thankful and proud to say that I am a Parker kid!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Ultimately, I would like to thank the Parker community for their continued support, and this opportunity to allow me to share my experience with the broader community. Parker has and always will be a home for me. I can only hope that when I choose to start a family, their community will be there to support my children as it supported me. There is truly no other community or place quite like this one. I owe a great deal of my success to Parker, and I will always do anything I can to support and foster the great things this community does.