Benefit of Attending Conferences In-Person

Konstandina Dulu

2017 Becki Shawver Memorial Scholarship

by Konnie Dulu

Upon award of the 2017 Becki Shawver Memorial Scholarship, I attended the 2017 GPA Annual Conference. This is the first grant professional conference I have ever been able to attend, and I would describe it as very well worth the trip. As a young professional who’s been in the field for 4 years, finding quality education is difficult. Finding quality education my organization will physically send me to is even rarer. In a world of webcasts and digital attendance, attending in-person meetings are all the more important.

The benefits of in-person meetings are the people! There are many aspects to attending in-person starting with Keynote Speakers. This year’s Keynote–Thomas Ahern–was very awe-inspiring. Without being in the grants field himself, he was able to draw you in, make everything relevant, and inspire you to succeed in your own career. Much of what he said directly correlated to working in a grants position within a company that may not fully understand your role. Attending excellent sessions is another very beneficial in-person experience. Some of the topics focused on creating a career development plan, teaching grants to those not in your field, increasing grant capacities, knowing how to manage from the middle, and recognizing your own power as a grant professional. Not only was the content engaging but also I was able to listen to those around me. The collective experience of other professionals in the room was wonderful! In every session are not just expert presenters but others in your field and in your shoes, experiencing many of the same day-to-day difficulties and various personalities types.

Learning from and discussing in a group setting with like-experienced or like-situational individuals is one of the greatest benefits of the GPA National Conference. Quite a few of the impactful takeaways I gained from this year’s meeting are from random one-on-one chats with other attendees and vendors. Everyone is a source of knowledge. Attend meetings, attend in-person, reach out a hand and introduce yourself, take a moment to have interest in others around you and what you may glean from them. It is the in-person interactions that help you grow as a professional and develop network connections in your field.


Amy made the leap to attend the 2017 National GPA Conference in San Diego


2017 Susan Kemp Memorial Scholarship

by Amy Shankland, GPC

Once upon a time there was a grant professional named Amy who loved her career. She joined the Grant Professionals Association in 2007, became active with her chapter, and attended every national GPA conference starting in 2009. Amy even obtained her GPC in 2010. An unexpected job change in 2015, however, brought a halt to her conference attendance. While she still did some grant work, it wasn’t enough to justify attendance to her employer.

Every day she went to work but missed using her grant skills and experience. Amy also missed her grant professional friends. She made do with the occasional webinar and local GPA meeting, but she knew she was missing out on the big picture for her development.

One day, Amy made the leap to become a full-time grant consultant. She had an amazing client and wanted to become the best possible development director for her organization, the Link Observatory Space Science Institute. She applied for a scholarship from the Grant Professionals Foundation in order to attend the 2017 National GPA Conference in San Diego.

Because of that, Amy received the Susan Kemp Memorial Scholarship and was finally able to return to the conference to get the latest information on trends in her field. She flew to San Diego in November and was thrilled to be reunited with her grant “peeps” from all over the country. Amy enjoyed her morning walks from the Hyatt to the conference hotel, Paradise Point, and loved her first ever visit to San Diego. The perfect weather, sunshine, and beautiful surroundings kept her alert and open to learning, despite the three-hour time difference.

Because of that, Amy attended workshops that gave her valuable information she could use right away for her organization; networked with others who worked in the science field; and gave her own workshop showing attendees that grant professionals really are superheroes! Amy discovered she loved healthy California food, right down to her last bites of quinoa, rice porridge, and steel cut oatmeal.

Finally, she returned to Indiana with incredible enthusiasm and is already implementing what she learned to help Link Observatory Space Science Institute become Indiana’s Space Center. Her bosses were quickly impressed with her new knowledge and expertise.

THANK YOU, Grant Professionals Foundation!