Perry family has become enthusiastic Grinnell ambassadors

February 15, 2023 — The Perry family – Patrick, Pamela, and their daughter Parker Perry ’24 – first heard about Grinnell College while on an airplane heading home to St. Louis.

Pamela and Patrick Perry
   Pamela and Patrick Perry

“It was Parker’s junior year in high school, and we were coming back from visiting colleges when we got a message from Grinnell’s golf coach expressing interest in her,” explains Pamela, who is vice president of legislative affairs and government relations at Carolina Complete Health. (They’ve since relocated to Durham, North Carolina.)

Patrick is vice president of professional liability claims at Skyward Specialty Insurance. At the time, neither parent knew anything about Grinnell. A lot has changed in four years.

Today, Pamela and Patrick serve on the Parents and Families Leadership Council, and Pamela is vice chair of the group. “It was Parker’s first year when we learned about the council, and to me it seemed like a really great way to get to know other families from around the country, with students in different class years,” Pamela explains. “We wanted to learn more about the institution and the community and culture, and we wanted to get involved in a meaningful way.”

The Perrys fell in love with Grinnell during initial visits to campus. “We started looking into it and thought it would be a great fit for her, with a well-rounded liberal arts experience, a smaller school, plus she wanted to continue her high school golf career into college competitively,” Pamela says. “Whether it was on the tour with students or meeting with faculty and administration, we felt a warm embrace from Grinnell that made the decision pretty easy at the end.”

Parker Perry ’24
   Parker Perry ’24

Parker, who’s spending this current semester studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, has thrived. The political science major is an integral member of the Pioneer golf team and was named a Scholar All-American by the Women's Golf Coaches Association for 2021-22.

Joining the council was a wonderful vehicle, says Pam, to create a connection to Grinnell during that initial pandemic year. They’ve since become enthusiastic ambassadors, co-hosting virtual family admissions sessions in the spring. “We’ll talk to parents whose children are enrolling in the fall to help orient them a bit with admissions and the campus experience,” Pamela says. “I see my role as sharing experiences as a parent who not too long ago, was being introduced to Grinnell, and talking about what’s been most helpful in navigating life as a parent of a Grinnell student.”

At Family Weekend, the Perrys greeted other parents on campus and as part of the Council, they met with President Anne F. Harris to discuss current issues and events. “We see ourselves as a sounding board,” Pamela says.

The Perrys also field phone calls from parents who are exploring Grinnell. “I spent some time with a student who plays football and was exploring schools this past fall. He was considering Grinnell,” Pamela says. “I shared Parker’s experience with him as a student-athlete and ours as parents.” A few weeks later, his parents let Pamela know that their son was enrolling at Grinnell. “I’ll champion the College wherever and however I can,” she says.

The family also donated to the women’s golf team through two gifts, which will support travel, along with new unforms and equipment.

Besides encouraging potential students to attend Grinnell, the Parkers encourage fellow parents to join the Council.

“We’re continually looking to bring ideas and think about ways we can best support our students and Grinnell, and we welcome participation from all parents,” Pamela says. “The Council is made up of folks who want to be engaged in a meaningful way and bring different perspectives, and we welcome those. So, if you’ve heard about us or not, come join in!”

— by Anne Stein ’84

For your information:

For additional information about the Parents and Families Leadership Council, visit the Council’s web page or contact Tina Popson ’97, associate director of parents and families program, at

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive and like the Alumni & Friends Facebook page.