February 16, 2024

Alumni Spotlight: Allie Tripp, MPA ’15

We recently connected with Evans alum Allie Trip, who just published, The 500 Hidden Secrets of Seattle. She shared her journey from AmericaCorps VISTA to Evans where she focused on nonprofit strategy. After graduation she found her way to the Washington Trails Association and becoming an author.

What inspired you to pursue a career in public service?

I wouldn’t say there was a singular moment that inspired me to go into public service but an accumulation of family and lived experiences. My privileged upbringing insulated me from much of the hardships of life in America, though my parents ensured I didn’t take for granted (or ignore) that privilege and encouraged me to consider my impact on the world at large as much as any other criteria when considering potential life paths. Throughout all four years of undergrad, I was a part of a volunteer program where I tutored middle and high school students once a week. The week-to-week experiences were immensely enjoyable, but I was challenged by how the program was managed and the students were treated and by the time I was a senior, I was interested in being a contributor to better managed mission-driven work after graduation.

Allie Tripp holding her new book with the Seattle skyline in the background

What brought you to the Evans School?

I spent several years after undergrad as an AmeriCorps VISTA at a nonprofit in Boston. It was a great place to work as a young professional, dedicated to empowering young people through outdoor sports and leadership, and just small enough that I was welcomed in rooms where strategic decisions were discussed. I realized quickly that, while my liberal arts degree had given me great perspective, I didn’t quite have the language or formal training in program strategy, budgets, or program evaluation that I would need if I was to achieve my hopes of making a difference in my community through my work. As someone who had grown up in various locations along the eastern seaboard, I wanted to apply to graduate schools on the west coast for a change of scenery. I visited the Evans School while in Seattle visiting a friend and immediately fell in love with the UW campus (and Seattle as a whole). I was excited about the school’s dedicated nonprofit management courses and spent the next several months crossing my fingers that I would get in.

Can you talk about your professional journey since graduation and how your MPA helped you get there?

Figuring out how to live in Seattle on a nonprofit salary, saddled with student loan debt, is not for the faint at heart. I had a meticulous job search methodology following graduation from the Evans School and a limited window to land my dream job (in nonprofit strategy). When that time ran out, I opened up my search criteria to roles that were more fundraising-focused, an area in which I had a lot of experience thanks to my time as a VISTA and one of the part-time jobs I held while at Evans. I was thrilled to be hired at Washington Trails Association in September 2015 as their Annual Fund & Events Manager. I spent 2.5 years at the rapidly growing organization supporting their seasonal fundraising campaigns, corporate partnerships and events, while finding additional professional development opportunities within that work (and external to it) to flex my MPA muscles. I also spent a lot of time continuing to invest in my professional network and the nonprofit sector as a whole, as a board member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Seattle.

When the organization created a new position dedicated to cross-functional strategic planning and coordination, I jumped at the chance to make the move. I’ve now spent almost 6 years as Strategic Initiatives Senior Manager, and I couldn’t be happier to have a role that touches every corner of our work on behalf of all who love the outdoors. I still refer back to lessons learned from the Evans School on a regular basis, in particular the management curriculum, policy analysis, and program evaluation.

You’ve just published a book on hidden Seattle. As a transplant, what made you stay and how did that influence your book?

While Seattle itself (and the physical beauty of the surrounding landscapes) played a huge role in my decision to seek employment after Evans here, I would actually say it is the community that the Evans School gave me that played a larger role in my decision to stay. I continue to be deeply connected to individuals I met through my MPA and am really proud to see what they all are accomplishing out in the world almost 9 years after we graduated.

As for the book, in addition to my love of time spent outdoors, I also love to travel. Nothing (in my opinion) can make a bigger difference in enjoying a new destination than a personal recommendation from someone who loves that place. The chance to help shape someone’s experience for the better while they visit Seattle through my book was a truly exciting one. I even applied some MPA skills (criteria selection is important in all aspects of life!) when selecting places to feature in the book.

What’s one hidden place in Seattle that you’d recommend to a newly arrived MPA student?

Given that West Seattle is home to roughly 1/6th of Seattle’s population, calling it a hidden secret would be pretty funny. But, for new Seattle residents (especially UW-based ones!) I think it can be an overlooked area. Riding the water taxi to West Seattle is an affordable and fun way to get out on the water. Rent a kayak on the other side or enjoy a drink and great eats at Marination Mai Kai. Free shuttles can also take you on to the heart of the West Seattle Junction neighborhood or the fun beach vibes of Alki. You can find these and many more ideas in my book, The 500 Hidden Secrets of Seattle, available online and at many great local bookstores like Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill (another must-visit for new Seattle residents). I also wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t encourage all newly arrived MPA students to download WTA’s app, Trailblazer, to help them find their first of many favorite hikes in Seattle and Washington at large!