North Central College - Naperville, IL

Sheldon Trapp

Class Year: 

Wall of Witness Award Winner 2007

Sheldon Trapp '57 became the second alumnus to be named to the Wall of Witness in Kiekhofer Hall. Trapp was recognized for his career as a community organizer and his dedication to bringing about meaningful change for people living in poverty. "It was surprising to get this award, because I'm only doing what the great Spirit expected of you when you were created," said Trapp upon receiving the honor.

The Wall of Witness honors alumni of the College or Evangelical Theological Seminary whose lives embody a commitment to leadership, justice and service.

A sociology major at North Central College, Trapp pursued his theology degree at Evangelical Theological Seminary, graduating in 1960. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. for civil rights in Chicago and worked in a community partnership in the city's Austin neighborhood to stabilize the racial mix of residents. For 29 years, Trapp was a key figure in the Chicago-based National Training and Information Center, which he helped cofound in 1972. The organization helps grassroots networks grow by offering assistance and seed money, addressing issues of housing fairness and community reinvestment.

In 2003, he wrote Dynamics of Organizing: Building Power by Developing Human Spirit. The forward describes him as "one man who imagines the world as it could be and encourages us to play a role in making that imagined place a reality."

Trapp credits his success during such a trying career to the support of his wife, Anne Heininger '56 Trapp. The couple continues to live in Chicago. At the awards ceremony, Trapp showed the audience his North Central College letterman's jacket. "On that football field, I earned my letter," he said. "But out in the world, my letter taught me how to win. Thank you for that gift to my life."