Claire Tinsley, from tour guide to English teacher

Claire Tinsley had an epiphany when she switched career paths to go into teaching.

Tinsley majored in art history at William and Mary and intended to become a curator at a museum. But, after interning at the Kennedy Center, she realized it was not the right fit.

“I ended up getting my job at Round House theater [where I worked] for 2 year in fundraising and [because of my] love for theater it was nice, but the fundraising part felt like a challenge for me,” Tinsley said. “A challenge to get up every day and be like ‘ok here we go’. Not really what I wanted to be doing. I had a moment where I asked myself ‘Is this really what I want to do?’”

While on the search for her next career path, Tinsley stuck to her hobbies: singing, reading, and hosting for an organization called the Dinner Party.

“The Dinner Party is for people in their 20s and 30s who have been through some sort of significant loss,” Tinsley said. “I went through a significant loss when I was in college and I found the Dinner Party a few years ago.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Tinsley was a regular participant of the Dinner Party, but when the organization went virtual, she decided to begin hosting her own gatherings.

“It’s very nice, we get together on Zoom every two weeks and just chat about life and what we’re dealing with,” Tinsley said. “It’s a really nice way to talk about stuff you can’t necessarily talk about with casual acquaintances or even close friends who haven’t been through that.”