GPA 2020 Annual Conference Scholarship Essay, by Georgia Carvalho

New England Chapter Chuck Howard Scholarship

Thanks to the scholarship I received from GPA, I was able to attend the Grant’s Professional Association’s Annual Conference in November 2020.  At a time when travel and professional development budgets were being cut, not only at my institution, I was extremely grateful for the opportunity I was granted.

My sincere thank you goes to the Grants Professional Foundation and others who worked tirelessly to raise funds for the scholarships. The scholarships that allowed many Grants Professionals to attend the first fully virtual GPA Conference.  The Conference program was engaging and offered so many opportunities for grants professionals to learn and grow as professionals.

This was my first time attending the GPA conference. Previously, I had focused on attending conferences aimed at grants and resource development professionals who work in community colleges, both through the now extinct Council for Resource Development and more recently through CASE.  Attending the GPA conference it became clear that the Grants Professional Association’s (GPA) National Conference serves a much wider and varied audience and addresses a great variety of interesting topics.  In addition to great sessions and opportunities to network and meet new colleagues, it was great seeing the camaraderie that exists in the community. People were very welcoming and helpful, collaborative and quite supportive of each other.

The conference content was balanced and offered both pre-awards and post-award professionals attending timely and interesting sessions. All the sessions and discussions I attended were excellent, with very professional presentations and solid content.  I learned much about various types of logic models, different approaches to program evaluation, budget strategies and formats, sub recipient monitoring and compliance, calculating return on investment and organizational tips for tracking pre-awards activities.  Many of the handouts from sessions were extremely helpful, and I have already had the opportunity to use one of the sample logic models as a base for a logic model required by a recent federal proposal submission.

I was also able to connect with colleagues from my chapter and region, and that is always a pleasant experience.  It is wonderful to see thoughtful and supportive colleagues interacting with each other and sharing experiences. I found the breakout and lunch sessions very informative and a great opportunity to connect with other grant professionals from around the country. During these times of social distancing and work from home, that felt like a real treat.

Although I am a seasoned mid-career professional, with over 20 years of experience related to grants, attending the GPA conference was a great opportunity to brush up on some skills and to enhance professional knowledge in new areas, especially in post-award administration, an area where I still have much to learn.

In short, I took away several lessons and was impressed at how the GPA conference was run.  I am sincerely grateful for the scholarship and the opportunity to join this virtual community of grants professionals. The small community college where I work is also very grateful that I had this opportunity and that what I learned will have a positive impact for the institution and the students.  I am looking forward to joining the GPA conference in person in the future.  Thank you so much for the scholarship and the opportunity.

More information about Conference Scholarships, including application dates and eligibility criteria, is available here.