Krosbie Carter ’10, MPA ’17 struggled to find her purpose at the beginning of her Evergreen adventure, but not anymore. As the new director of Thurston Thrives, a nonprofit organization that serves the community by improving health and safety in Thurston County, she has found her purpose.
Studying in Florence, Italy as an Evergreen undergraduate, interning for the city of Olympia’s Point-in-Time census, then working through the immersive Masters in Public Administration program led Carter to where she is now. She happily reflected about how Evergreen provided her with numerous real-world experience opportunities.
After graduating with her BA, Carter worked for Olympia’s Point-in-Time census, where she learned how all sectors of a community work together to help people experiencing homelessness throughout the community. Businesses, nonprofits, and the government all had a place at the table, and Carter found she wanted to have a seat, too. Carter said, “Evergreen gave me the tools to look at something bigger than myself and understand where I can fit in that. I was really good at the homeless census because I could see the needs of the community from different perspectives.”
Carter made it clear that the census is not just counting heads. “You start prepping in October of every year, gathering donations, sites, food, and providers. I spent six months after the count learning how to synthesize the information we got and creating a report for our community.” Evergreen had prepared her for the interdisciplinary work featured in Carter’s position as an intern, and it showed.
Anna Schlecht, one of Carter’s supervisors from the city of Olympia, thought Carter had great potential. Schlecht suggested she apply for Evergreen’s MPA program, and within a week Carter put her application together and was accepted.
“My first year of the MPA was the most rigorous academic endeavor I have ever done, and I am very grateful for that,” Carter expressed. In just the first year, she was pushed to examine how systems such as nonprofits, taxes, and policy work together, and how they fall apart when the systems aren’t all included in a change-making process. Carter learned how to shed bias and shift perspectives to the benefit of all people in a community, and now enjoys facilitating the conversations that drive positive change throughout Thurston County. (Her favorite technique she learned in the MPA program is using a whiteboard to see how all the pieces of a system work together. She said it’s an iterative process, and whiteboarding makes it easier to move all the pieces around. “Go whiteboards,” she said.)
However, what really put Carter on her path was studying arts and international politics in Florence, Italy, at Evergreen’s sister school, Studio Arts College International. Her advice to current undergraduates is, “Find a way to study abroad because it gives you an understanding of how big the world is, and how small we are in this bigger scope. It helps us understand our connectivity and how important it is to take care of your local community, and that what happens on a local level is reflected on a regional level, and then a national level.” Her dream is to bring the sense of connectivity she felt in Florence to Thurston County, and get Thurston to become an example of innovation. “I left because I was starting to flounder a little, and I came home with a reborn passion for my community.”
Now, Carter wants to work with what she calls Thurston’s “future potential innovators.” In other words, she would like local college students to spread further into the community and contribute their skills to the county. She also wants to lift up projects that already work by listening to and amplifying the voices of the public. “We have the highest nonprofit per capita in the entire state. We have a lot of power in that."