SMMA’s Kim McCarthy Named Among Union Leader’s 40 Under Forty Honorees

SMMA architect Kim McCarthy

Kim McCarthy, an architect at SMMA, was honored by Union Leader magazine in its annual 40 Under Forty list.

The 40 Under Forty accolade is awarded to residents of New Hampshire who are considered rising stars in the state’s business, education, and finance worlds. 

Kim was nominated by the Board of Directors of the Brian S. McCarthy Memorial Foundation, which provides STEM-based grants and scholarships to high school students in Nashua, NH. The foundation was co-founded by Kim in 2019 to continue the legacy of her father Brian, a former Nashua city alderman and science enthusiast.

We recently sat down with Kim to discuss the foundation’s work with K-12 students and adult learners in New Hampshire.

Q: The foundation is named after your dad, Brian S. McCarthy. What can you tell us about him?

My dad was an alderman in Nashua, New Hampshire, for 25 years. He was very involved in the community, and he was most known for his involvement with two high school construction projects in Nashua in the early 2000s. 

He worked a lot with architects and was very invested in equity. At the time, the city was going from one high school to two. He wanted to make sure it wasn’t a case of, “Here’s the big, nice, beautiful building, and here’s the ugly stepsister building.”

What inspired you to set up the foundation?

My dad passed away suddenly. It wasn't anything expected. He was still involved with the city for a new performing arts center, one new middle school, and two school renovations. In the middle of all my grief, I thought, “What can I do to keep his legacy going and honor him and continue his work without becoming an elected official?”

He was a computer software engineer. He loved space, astronomy, and all things science. So I came up with this idea to have a scholarship, in his name, for students at local high schools going into a STEM field. 

What grants and scholarships does the foundation offer?

We’re focused mainly on high school scholarships. Since 2020 we have awarded eight scholarships to high school students pursuing a collegiate-level degree in a STEM field. Those scholarships are worth $2,500 each, and will increase to $5,000 this year. Aside from that, we provide vouchers to elementary and middle schools for a STEM demonstration through the Xploration program at the Nashua Adult Learning Center.  

We also provide grants and engagement opportunities in the community. This year we gave $500 to the Nashua River Junior Scientist Program and $500 to Nashua FIRST Robotics Team.

Tell us about the adult learning initiatives...

One of my dad’s big things was lifelong learning—just because you’re out of the classroom, it doesn't mean you stop learning. Our grants are available to Nashua groups of all ages. We’re looking into adult STEM engagement and non-traditional student opportunities and have partnered with the Nashua Adult Learning Center to fund their new Tesla Coil Plasma Demonstration, which we fully sponsored.

We also put on free movie viewings at Nashua Public Library. We either show a true science story, like October Sky and Hidden Figures, or a really bad sci-fi, which is something my dad enjoyed.


What inspired you to become an architect?

I got interested in architecture in my middle school Tech Ed class. Then in high school, my dad would actually bring me to some of the construction meetings for the high school projects he was working on. Being on a project site aged 17, wearing a hard hat and walking through this unfinished building, it’s kind of a cool experience. Especially when it was touring my old high school that was becoming a new high school.

Looking ahead, what are you excited for?

I mentioned that my dad was involved in a new middle school project in Nashua when he died. That school has since been named for him—the Brian S. McCarthy Middle School—and is set to open next year. As for the foundation, we will be introducing a new scholarship for non-traditional students later this year. We are also doubling the high school scholarships to $5,000 each.