To celebrate 50 years of coeducation at Kenyon, we’re profiling three dozen of Kenyon alumnae during the 2019-20 academic year. These women, merely a small sample of the thousands of female graduates who have earned Kenyon degrees since 1969, will discuss their undergraduate experiences and how their education in Gambier prepared them for their lives and careers.
The seventh alumna in our series is Kristin Meister ’00, director and litigation counsel at Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank. Meister has volunteered as chair of the Kenyon Fund Executive Committee, and she received the D. Morgan Smith Award in 2017 for her outstanding service as a class agent. Hailing from Youngstown, Ohio, and now based in New York City, Meister majored in English and political science at Kenyon and earned her law degree at the University of Michigan.
How do you prioritize your life and get things done?
I have a lot of energy, so I am generally going non-stop from the moment I get up in the morning until the moment I go to sleep, and I try to make the most of all of the minutes in between. I multi-task when I can, but most of the time I try to prioritize whatever I am currently doing. If I am at work, I am focused on work; if I am with the kids, I try to be 100% focused on them. I aim for quality over quantity and prioritize my family, friends and work over little things that will not matter in the long run. If I don’t get the cleaning or organizing done one week, I don’t get it done. I try not to stress about that.
Where did you first discover your power?
If I had to pick something unique to me that is my “power,” I would say that it is my love of people and of communicating meaningfully with them. I love learning from those who are different from me, even as I bond with them over the things we share in common. It’s a tendency I learned from my mother, who exudes love and friendship to everyone around her. In law school, I discovered that this power also enabled me to learn more effectively from, and with, my brilliant classmates and study partners — one of whom became my husband.
As I have progressed in my career, my ability to communicate effectively has brought me success in a variety of professional contexts. I communicated with the military during my tenure as an honors legal intern for the general counsel at the Department of Defense at the Pentagon. I assisted refugees with resettlement and asylum application in the E.U. during my time working at an international human rights NGO in London. I worked as a lawyer for professional athletes in both the NBA and NFL. And in the corporate world, I have served as an attorney for both plaintiffs and defendants. Most recently, I have discovered my power anew as a mother raising two children, Celia and Cyrus.
Who at Kenyon inspired you?
Who didn’t inspire me?! Almost too many professors to name: Baumann, Klesner, Shutt, Elliott, Carson, Laycock, Lynn, Camerra-Rowe, Emmert, Jensen, Van Holde, and on and on. These people challenged me in the classroom and supported me outside of it. I knew the families of many of my professors, had countless meals at their homes, grieved with them when they lost their pets, house-sat for them while they were on vacation, and helped raise their kids through hundreds of hours of babysitting. These professors inspired me not only with their intelligence and remarkable ability to educate but through their humanity and love. Their guidance and care for their students inspired me at Kenyon every day.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
It won’t be the first time you’ve heard this, but money doesn’t buy you happiness. Happiness comes from having loving and supportive friends and family. The happiest people I know focus on the people in their lives as opposed to the things.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Read about the previous woman in our series: Lydia Winkler ’13
Read about the next woman in our series: Aileen Hefferren ’88