It’s hard not to feel unaccomplished when you read Dr. Patricia Hagen’s bio.
The executive director of T-REX is an amazing combination of focused energy and unflappable charm. She has led the nonprofit to remarkable highs, not the least of which is the successful conclusion of a $10 million capital campaign that will allow her to renovate and upgrade many floors of the historic Lammert building on Washington Avenue where T-REX and the hundreds of start-ups it nurtures make their home. Paradowski had the pleasure of working with Patty and her team to bring the Report to the Community to life.
Everyone calls her Patty, and she is a St. Louis gal through and through. She attended St. Cecilia elementary school in South St. Louis, Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves, and the University of Missouri – Columbia. She received her master’s in public administration, and a doctorate in public policy analysis from Saint Louis University.
Before joining T-REX, she served as a vice president for the National Audubon Society, establishing a partnership between the National Audubon Society and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conserve habitat for 325 bird species. Before that, she oversaw Saint Louis University’s success in incorporating research and researcher needs in the design and construction of the University’s $82 million biomedical research center.
Did you have a mentor?
Yes, several mentors—Dean Donald Brennan at St. Louis University, Julie Schnuck, who worked with me on establishing the Audubon Center at Riverlands, and my grandmother, Betty Watkins.
How did that mentorship shape you?
Each mentor shaped me in different ways—I learned about strategy and patience from Don Brennan, I learned about grace and humor from Julie Schnuck, and I learned about love and selflessness from my grandmother. I am not perfect at any of these qualities, but I certainly had great models.
What makes you happy?
Being with my family, working with the great team at T-REX, and being outdoors, in a kayak. Also, driving on long trips and stopping in unexpected places.
What makes you miserable?
When I think I have disappointed someone I care about, or when my child is sad.
What is your most treasured possession?
Love letters that my grandmother and grandfather wrote each other when they were newly married.
What is your favorite activity?
Hard to choose one, so I have to list a few: kayaking, antiquing, cooking, gardening.
What quality most draws you to another person?
Humor, humility, intelligence and kindness.
Who is your favorite writer, poet or actor?
I love Julia Child—love her story, her drive, and her beautiful relentlessness.
Who is your favorite fictional character?
Right now—Black Panther.
What piece of clothing, jewelry or accessory means the most to you?
A wallet given to me by Julie Schnuck, one of the most wonderful friends I ever had. She had a boxer dog, and so do I, and on the wallet, the heads of two boxers make the clasp for the wallet. It means very much to me, and so did her friendship and kindness.
What trait in others do you most dislike?
Lack of humility/self-importance.
If money and time were no object, where would travel?
New Zealand and Africa.
If money and time were no object, what kind of car would you drive?
I already have one of them: A Mini Cooper S. The other is an antique Ford pickup truck.
What physical feat would you most like to accomplish?
Kayak the length of the Missouri River.
If you could do anything else, what would that be?
I’d like to own a shop, on the Mississippi River, that would allow me to pick estate sales and antique markets throughout the country.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who cares about her community and its sustainability.