The Kinder Foundation is committed to making impactful gifts which improve Houston in significant ways. With an ambitious vision set forth by founders Rich and Nancy Kinder, the Kinder Foundation is supported by an exceptional staff of experienced professionals who help make our mission a reality.
Today, we introduce you to Kathryn Dollins, Attorney & Office Manager. Kathryn oversees and acts as in-house counsel for both the foundation and family office, and serves as assistant secretary for the Kinder Foundation Board.
What is the most surprising or exciting part of your work with the Kinder Foundation?
By far, the most exciting part of my work is watching the initiatives that the Kinder Foundation supports come to life. To see the sheer magnitude and reach of these projects is nothing short of awe-inspiring. There is something very special about witnessing these efforts go from being ideas or plans on paper to transforming into these amazing, outdoor greenspaces or tangible, physical establishments. To simply work alongside and collaborate with some of the most visionary minds and caring individuals in this city, who share similar objectives for making Houston a better place to live, is in and of itself, also very exciting.
What, in your opinion, makes the Kinder Foundation unique amongst its peers?
Nancy and Rich’s philanthropic vision paired with the talented and highly specialized directors we have on staff, who are all basically rockstars in their own fields, is a unique combination, in my opinion. And I think that is a key component to successfully achieving these major, transformational impacts throughout Houston. We are a very small but focus driven team and I think that allows us to move faster on the initiatives that the Kinders want to pursue rather than some of our peers who might have a more stringent board approval and review process. Nancy and Rich really have a boots on the ground approach towards each effort they support and that environment lends itself to a deeper level of involvement and input than other funders might have in any other given projects. They also impart careful consideration into the future self-sustainability of any initiative they are considering, which I think is another unique and important pillar in their decision-making process – because, as they say, “someone has to water the trees” after they are planted.
Is there something about the Kinder Foundation that is meaningful to you that most people may not know?
Unabashedly echoing my coworkers’ sentiments here, but it is very meaningful to me that both Nancy and Rich are so easily accessible to everyone at the foundation. I really appreciate their fierce work ethic and encouraging us to “think big.” In pursuing my second career choice, when I was in law school, my land-use and management professor told our class one day that if we wanted to do something “good” then his advice was that we should go to work for a foundation. At that time, the Kinder Foundation didn’t have an online platform, but I was already taking my children to Discovery Green’s playground and marveling at the green innovation behind the design throughout the park. It was such a respite to have downtown and everything I wanted when visiting an urban park – complete with a restaurant that served veggie burgers! It was either luck or serendipity when the opportunity to work for the foundation presented itself, but this past summer marked my tenth year working for the Kinders. It really means a lot to me to be able to assist in supporting their mission to enrich the lives of people in our community through their focus areas of education, urban greenspace, and quality of life. Knowing that my coworkers embrace those same ideals and having that collective, positive mindset of working together towards the same common “good” is pretty cool too.
If you had no commitments and a full weekend to spend in Houston, what would you do?
My weekend would start off by meeting up with friends at an outdoor patio for food and drinks at a local establishment. There are so many good Mexican, vegetarian friendly, made-from-scratch, and farm-to-table restaurants here that I tend to gravitate to those the most and it seems like there is always a new one popping up. I think it’s been said that with the number of restaurants in this city that someone could eat out for three meals a day, 365 days of the year, and never have to eat at the same place – and I believe it. Houston also has a great live music scene, so seeing one of my favorite bands at an outdoor venue would definitely be on my agenda. If the weather is nice, visiting an arts and craft market or taking a boat tour on Buffalo Bayou are always good options too. I would have to make a stop for lunch one day at the MFAH and tour the exhibit galleries and tunnels there. And then if there is any time left, it would involve either a comedy show or other live performance like a story slam. Of course, hanging out at the pool or a hotel’s lazy river and relaxing the entire time are always nice choices too.