2022 GPA Conference Scholar Essay, by Angela Smith

I am grateful to the Grant Professionals Foundation for the opportunity to attend my first GPA Conference. Having attended many online (and in person) conferences, I am always a bit leery of the quality, technology, and diversity of subjects. I was thrilled to find the conference providing me with the next level of education needed to advance my grant writing skills. Any technological issues were minor and easily addressed. It was by far the most engaging conference I have ever attended. Each speaker was thoughtful, well-prepared, and knowledgeable about their subject matter. For the courses with more than one speaker, I found the interactions between the two (or more) to be complementary and at times, entertaining.

My journey to the grant writing profession was a long one but well worth the wait. I have a master’s degree in social work and worked as a therapist for four years prior to becoming the agency’s grant writer. The person who had the position prior to me was no longer employed by the agency. Often, I found myself digging through folders and files to find what was needed to reapply for a grant or include as an attachment. The GPA course “Design Thinking: a Dynamic Grants Manual for your Team Successor,” was exactly what I needed not only to prepare for the next grant writer, but also to keep me organized.

My skills as a social worker come in handy when building relationships with grantors, working with several program directors, and telling the story of the children and families served by my organization. Several of the courses I attended touched on the importance of empathy, listening, collaboration, setting expectations, and information sharing. All of which are invaluable when it comes to writing grants.

I walked away from this conference feeling equipped and energized. My goal is to take this “mountain top experience” into my day-to-day work.