Building social change, one book at a time

New Trinity Fellows library focuses on nonprofit leadership, social justice

Students in the Trinity Fellows program will now have access to a new library located on the third floor of the 707 Building. The Trinity Fellows Community Library for Nonprofit Leadership and Social Justice hosts over 1,000 books, in honor of the late Pat Wyzbinski, a prominent nonprofit leader in the Milwaukee community.

“The library will focus on books pertaining to nonprofit leadership and social justice, but there will also be books about local social justice issues and historical books specific to Milwaukee,” says Natalie Reinbold, director of Trinity Fellows. “As the library grows, we hope to provide more books about Milwaukee leaders, leaders of color and leaders in the LGBTQ community, as well as self-care books.”

Trinity Fellows is a competitive graduate fellowship program dedicated to developing urban leaders with a commitment to social and economic justice. Fellows participate in a 21-month study and work program while earning a master’s degree in one of 14 fields of study.

“We hope that allowing students access to career-specific literature will support their academic success and expose them to new topics in their field,” Reinbold says.

Many of the books in the library are from Wyzbinski’s large, personal collection. After she died in 2016, Wyzbinski’s close friends Frank Martinelli, Eloiza Altoro and Audrey Strnad, as well as Wyzbinski’s widower Scott Gelzer, saved her books and worked together to find a new place in Milwaukee where they could be appreciated.

While the books found a home with the Trinity Fellows, one graduate student realized the system could use some fine tuning.

“When I started my career diversity fellowship assignment with the Trinity Fellows, I was struck by the impressive number of books in the library and offices. However, I noticed there was no system in place that made these resources searchable,” says Samantha Scott, Ph.D. candidate in religious studies. “I was interested in helping make the library more accessible so that it could be more useful for the Trinity Fellows and staff.”

Scott worked diligently to catalog and organize the books, making the library what it is today.

“This is such a unique collection of books that has potential to help the Trinity Fellows in their research and service to Milwaukee,” Scott says.

Wyzbinski’s legacy of working toward a greater good through nonprofit leadership and service lives on through this collection and hopefully through the fellows who use it.

“Pat would say that historical and contemporary theory and practice are important to understand,” says Gelzer. “Use the library as a practical reference — when you run into a challenging situation, go to the literature for ideas and inspiration. She believed that management and leadership are partners in civic and nonprofit organizations fueling their pursuit of making our communities better places to live and work.”

Currently, the library is available to Trinity Fellows only, with the goal of expanded access to the public in the future.