First Time and Fabulous!

TJGrant Expectations

First Time and Fabulous!
Kristin Holowicki, Grant Coordinator, City of Coral Springs, FL
kholowicki@coralsprings.org

January, 2015
As a first time attendee of the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) National Conference, made possible by the generous scholarship from the Grant Professionals Foundation and my local South Florida GPA chapter, I was determined to get as much out of this experience as possible. But how was I going to squeeze workshops, volunteering, and networking all into 2 days? Answer: I’m a grant professional…juggling multiple projects is my life!
On the first day of the conference I attended the “First Timers Breakfast.” The presenters provided an overview of the conference agenda and advice on how to get the most out of the workshops. My first session was the Special Interest Group which for me was Government. Although not new to grants, I am new to my agency, a local municipality. While it was great to see some familiar faces from my home state of Florida, I was anxious to meet my nationwide counterparts to discuss grant opportunities, possible collaborations, and obstacles we face in our pursuit of grant funding. I quickly realized we share a common bond. Introductions were filled with insight into the challenges faced: from bosses who think grant money grows on trees to getting project staff to submit requested documents in a timely manner (deadlines are real!). Clearly, a grant professionals’ job is never done. The session rolled over into lunch where we continued networking within our SIGs, complete with informal conversation, sharing experiences and exchanging business cards.
After lunch I attended the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Reform and the Uniform Guidance Workshop by Gil Tran. Mr. Tran was a great presenter and breathed life and funny stories into the dry subject of OMB Reform that will go into effect December 26, 2014. Mr. Tran’s advice: “Keep Calm and Understand the Rules.”
One of the differences he touched on was the importance of the new language that will be included in the new guidelines. A breakdown of some key changes:
•    Definitions of “should” and “must”:
o    Should = best practices
o    Must = required
•    Shall is out; Should is in
•    Must is the new shall; May is gone
On day two I attended a workshop on taking the exam for the Grant Professionals Certification (GPC) credential. I have been considering tackling this challenge and the workshop made the GPC test process feel a little less intimidating. The presenters provided useful information about qualifications for the exam, the multiple choice questions and the written portion of the exam.
After taking 25 pages of handwritten notes over the 2 day period my most important conclusion (other than the fact that I need to get my laptop fixed) was that this was a dynamic group of professionals with a wealth of knowledge to be shared. Because of my positive experience with GPA, I have just made the decision to run for Vice President of my local South Florida GPA Chapter and plan to pursue my GPC credential in 2015.
The GPA staff and hosting committee from Portland did a phenomenal job of coordinating all aspects of the conference. It was one of the most organized conferences I’ve ever attended. I volunteered for the GPF silent auction which raised $5,100. This all would not have been possible without the support of the GPF and local South Florida GPA Chapters scholarship.
Here’s a breakdown by the numbers:
•    Number of miles traveled (Portland to Fort Lauderdale and back) = 6,600
•    Pages of handwritten notes from workshops = 25
•    Number of business cards collected and emails exchanged = over 100
•    Number of Voo Doo Doughnuts eaten = 1 (Captain my Captain Doughnut topped with vanilla frosting and Captain Crunch Berries Cereal – YUM!)
•    Number of attendees at conference (sold out) = over 600
Thank you again for this opportunity. I hope to see everyone next year in St. Louis for the 2015 GPA National Conference.