By Jana Gowan – 2017 Nora Stombaugh Memorial Scholarship
Thanks to a scholarship from the Grant Professionals Foundation, I was able to attend the annual Grant Professionals Association Conference in San Diego this year (November 2017).
I accepted a position as a full-time grant writer at a public university in December 2016 with a beginner’s awareness of grants. I had years of experience in development, fundraising, and education, mostly at a small nonprofit with a mission very close to my heart and only about a dozen colleagues. Transitioning to a larger institution with over 600 employees and thousands of students while navigating federal grant applications for the first time has stretched me. Thankfully, my predecessor was a member of the GPA, so I was able to plug into this invaluable resource from the beginning.
The GPF scholarship made it possible for me to attend the annual conference. From the first event, I appreciated the sense of community encouraged by the association. Working as the only grants professional at my organization can be isolating, so one of my favorite parts of the conference was simply getting to meet fellow grants professionals and ask questions. I learned the most from these casual conversations during meals or mixers.
Of course, the conference sessions were beneficial too. In fact, there were so many offerings relevant to my work, that I am very grateful for the shared handouts on the Google Drive folder. From the sessions I was able to attend, I learned how to offer more effective training for my non-grants colleagues, build better relationships with the development team, and craft a stronger evaluation plan as just a few examples.
Thank you to the Grant Professionals Foundation for the scholarship and the opportunity to attend this conference. It was the perfect ending to my first year as a grants professional as it will help me start the second year on the right foot with sharper focus and a network of support.