Lisa Deem, Grant Specialist, City of Flagstaff
I had the distinct honor of attending the 2014 Grant Professionals Association Conference in Portland, Oregon through a Jerry Dillehay Scholarship, sponsored by the Arizona Chapter. I became a GPA member in December 2011, supported by my position at the City of Flagstaff. I have attended state conferences, but never able to participate at the national level. What an experience! The positive energy generated at the conference created an air of support for success. The hosting chapter and planning team were on target and on time, with logistical information and anticipating our every need. Kudos for a job well done!
The keynote speakers on Thursday and Friday were professionals at the top of their fields, providing strategies and insightful perspectives from both sides of the funder-grant seeking forum. I was pleased to hear the underlying reasons for why we were all there – the human element; building relationships in our community, bettering the world around us. Each and every person at that conference recognizes our ultimate mission – funding people, not paper.
Gil Tran, in the Plenary Session, provided critical insight on the rollout of the federal super-circular with his entertaining anecdotes and personal stories. The human element was very active in this lively discussion of OMB regulations, offering simple methods to navigate these new waters.
The variety and number of workshop sessions available were mind-boggling. I often found myself wishing I could clone to attend multiple workshops at once. I was amazed at the vast amount of knowledge and expertise present in each session, both by presenters and the audience.
- I learned Grants Management is manageable.
- I learned that FFATA is not a four-letter word, nor is 2CFR200.
- I learned the importance of building your project team.
- I learned the difference between “should” versus “must”.
- I learned that performance indicators, inputs and outcomes are a grant professional’s friend.
- I learned about logic models, and how they have the capacity to bring a project from good to great outcomes.
- I learned about the importance of written policies and procedures to accommodate managerial controls and compliance.
- I learned that grants are similar to one’s garden, requiring vision, planning and constant care.
- I learned how to find statistical data to support my project.
- I learned consistent, ethical management practices are the gold-standard.
- I learned how to align your project with your funder’s objectives and demonstrate a compelling needs statement.
- I learned that, while many grant professionals operate on a lonely field within their organizations, they have the capacity to bring together their “village” to create lasting, positive change.
- I learned that grant professionals require an extensive skill set including concise writing, financial accounting, organizational management, setting policy standards, understanding technical-industry jargon, compassionate listening and exceptional human interaction skills.
Most importantly, I learned that grant professionals are some of the warmest, most-giving people I have known. They work tirelessly to improve the world around them, one grant at a time. I am proud to be counted in those numbers. And I thank the Grant Professionals Foundation for the opportunity to interact with other grant professionals in a supportive and educational environment. We were certainly Building Bridges in Portland, and creating lasting relationships. I wish to extend sincere thanks to all involved, for this learning experience.