Baltimore Collegetown Network
Kirsten Brinlee didn’t go to college in Baltimore – she holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Oklahoma and master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Texas. But as the assistant director for Baltimore Collegetown Network, her job is to connect college students with the city where they are studying.
It’s a job Brinlee loves, and alma maters aside, is a great fit because it fits her talent of making others feel valued.
The 29-year-old manages and leads the Collegetown Leadershape program, which started in 2010 and has more than 300 graduates who have contributed more than 300,000 hours of community service. Other cities have Leadershape programs, but Baltimore’s is unique because it engages students over a nine-month period and supports them as they develop projects that make the community stronger. Graduates have gone on to work on issues like food deserts in urban areas or vacant homes and homelessness.
This summer, the network will host the first Collegetown Underground, a four-day civic engagement experience organized by Brinlee. The first cohort of students will focus on West Baltimore’s history, culture and systemic challenges.
“This program will help students dive deep into Baltimore in a meaningful way,” Brinlee said. “I’ve worked on programs similar in the past, but never with this level of intentionality and purpose.”
Brinlee is also the board development chair for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Baltimore, and last year she led an initial membership drive that resulted in 100 new members.