Volunteer Spotlight: Karmi Mattson '97

Jan 17, 2018Karmi Anna Mattson ’97 still remembers the phone call she made to her parents at work the day a letter about Grinnell College financial aid arrived in the mail.

Mattson already knew she wanted to attend Grinnell. She had visited the college and felt completely at home. The sticking point was the cost. Her parents had warned her a significant amount of financial aid was needed.

“‘Look at how much money they are giving me! Can I please go there? Please!’” Mattson told her parents over the phone that day. “My parents couldn’t believe the amount and had to call the financial aid office to verify that it was indeed correct.”

Karmi Mattson (Far Right) and her college roomates.
Karmi Anna Mattson '97 (right) and her Grinnell roommates.

Mattson started giving back to Grinnell even before she completed her bachelor’s degree in political science. She worked at Reunion as a student and later became the 1997 Class Agent. She has held several important volunteer positions including president of the Alumni Council and GRASP Regional Coordinator for the Twin Cities. She currently is the Grinnell in the Twin Cities Regional Network coordinator, planning alumni events in the Minneapolis/St Paul metro area.

In her professional life, Mattson provides training, consulting, event planning, and motivational speaking services to corporations, trade associations, and nonprofits across the country.

“I have leadership skills and event planning expertise that lend themselves well to certain kinds of volunteer work,” she says. “Utilizing those skills helps me feel valued. And that, in turn, develops those skills even further.”

Mattson has helped organize many fun outings for Twin Cities alumni, including riverboat cruises, theater performances, sporting events, and architecture tours. On Nov. 2, Ross Elfline ’95, associate professor of art history at Carleton College, gave a crash course on contemporary art at the Walker Art Center for Grinnell alumni.  

But Mattson’s proudest volunteer accomplishment occurred in 2010. The Alumni Council was looking for a way to liven up the Alumni Assembly during Reunion.

“It occurred to me that showing pictures of the Alumni Award winners would make a huge difference, so as we read their citations at the assembly, we projected photos of the award winners throughout their lives,” Mattson says about the tradition that still continues today. “I like to think this has made the experience more meaningful both for the award recipients and those in attendance.”

Beyond Mattson’s volunteer work, she also made an endowed gift to the Grinnell College Office of Development and Alumni Relations. Her intent was to establish a fund that endows the office with additional resources to enhance and strengthen the existing programs and allow for the development of new initiatives.

“While the student financial aid was important, Grinnell gave me so much more than that,” Mattson says. “It made me the person I am today. Several of the jobs I've held in my career came to me because of experiences I had at Grinnell. My closest friends are Grinnellians I met as a student. I also have new Grinnell friends I have met since graduation who are important to me as well. I love being part of the Grinnell community.”

—by Jeremy Shapiro & Alumni Council Stewardship Committee

For you information:

Karmi is one of many volunteers serving as leaders on Grinnell’s Regional Networks. Learn more about the networks and how to get involved.