Mimi O'Brien, Executive Director
Mimi O'Brien became the executive director of The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation in December 2012. She joined the Foundation after a career in corporate and foundation development and more than 20 years working with the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation.
Mimi served as director of corporate and foundation relations at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC, before coming to Duke University’s Office of University Development in 1991. After several advancements, she was named assistant vice president of corporate and foundation relations in 2008.
As part of her work at Duke, Mimi staffed the Josiah Charles Memorial Trent Foundation, as assistant director from 1991-97 and as executive director from 1997-2012. The Trent Foundation was established by Mary D.B.T. Semans (daughter of Mary Duke Biddle) and her husband, Dr. James H. Semans, in 1977 in honor of Mrs. Semans’ first husband, Dr. Josiah Charles Trent. The Trent Foundation supports Duke faculty and staff projects. During this time, she had the opportunity work closely with the Semanses and the Biddle Foundation.
Mimi has an M.A. from Duke and a B.A. from Berea College (KY). She serves on the Board of Directors of the Duke University Federal Credit Union and the Rotary Club of Durham, through which she volunteers with several Durham organizations. Originally from Dayton, OH, she is pleased to call Durham home.
Kathy Harrison, a proud native North Carolinian, graduated from Meredith College. She worked with Spectator Publications for over 13 years in Raleigh, NC. After Spectator, Kathy worked in the State Capitol under Governor James B. Hunt’s last administration before coming to The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation in the fall of 1997
In addition to her work with the foundation, Kathy was Dr. and Mrs. Semans’ personal assistant. She gained great knowledge of the people, the arts and education throughout North Carolina and New York City. When asked what she enjoys most about her job at the Foundation, Kathy responded, “The MDBF’s scope and diversity of giving makes for a continually changing work environment. To be able to see and talk with such dedicated individuals that change lives has been incredibly rewarding. It amazes me the good that so many people do in so many different ways.”
Kathy lives in Chapel Hill and enjoys gardening and dinners with her close friends.