By Amanda M. Ellinger, MRA – Sponsored Projects Coordinator at Jefferson College of Health Sciences
Grant Professionals Foundation Scholar
When I heard I had been selected to receive a GPA Conference Scholarship, I was floored. Although I’ve been writing grants since 2006, I had never traveled outside of Virginia for a professional conference due to institutional budget constraints. As many of you in the profession know, grant writing can be an isolating line of work. We spend most of our days operating in the background, planning projects, organizing teams, developing budgets, monitoring compliance issues, and making sure our PIs meet their deadlines. The college I work for is a small, primarily baccalaureate, single-purpose institution. As such, I have few peers and operate, as many grant writers at smaller institutions do, in a ‘department of one.’ So, you can imagine my delight when I learned it would be possible to not only travel to a national conference, but to THE premier conference on grant writing, where I would be surrounded by over 600 of my peers for four days!
I wasted no time getting acquainted. As soon as my feet hit the tarmac in St. Louis, I began making connections. My first stop was the Exhibit Hall where vendors from around the country were set up. There, I talked with The Foundation Center Directory and learned about Workspace, a new tool available to help manage the grant prospecting process.
On the second day of the Conference, I shared my experiences in a Higher Education Special Interest Group and as a result, found multiple colleagues at similarly-sized institutions who are interested in partnering on research projects related to grant writing as a profession. I have already reached out to one institution and we are currently conducting a literature review as the first step of collaborative research project.
On the third day of the Conference, I attended a session on social media tools for grant writing, where I learned about building relationships with funders through social media. I participated in my first ever GrantChat using Blab, a tool with which I was previously unfamiliar. I also sat in on a session hosted by the Editorial Board of the GPA Journal and have already connected with Andy Rawdon about submitting a proposal for a journal article. I bonded with Heather Stombaugh over a Silent Auction shift and learned that in addition to a mutual love of Boxers (the dog, not the athletes), we share a common history in research administration. As a result of our conversation and at Heather’s encouragement, I signed up to be a proofer for the GPA Grant News.
In addition to these wonderful experiences, I now have a national network of colleagues who are making grant writing a little less solitary and significantly more fun! I guess you could say I found my ‘tribe’ at the GPA Conference!
Many thanks, again, for an outstanding experience. See you next year!