Tag Archive for: Portland

Opportunities to Network and Learn!

Hayley Johnson, Grants Coordinator/Government Information Librarian
Nicholls State University, Louisiana

February, 2015
Through the generosity of the Grant Professionals Foundation Scholarship, I was able to attend the 2014 Annual National Conference of the Grant Professionals Association in Portland. As a newcomer to the grants arena, I was extremely excited to attend and learn as much as possible. Opportunities to network and learn were endless and every session I attended provided valuable information. Often, my most difficult decision was choosing one session to attend out of the many interesting and applicable options during each time period. Being able to attend the conference was especially important as it gave me access to experienced professionals teaching informative grant techniques that would be immediately applicable to my work.
Over the course of the conference, I attended numerous sessions that were all extremely informative. For example, the Special Interest Group (SIG) Session that I attended was fantastic as I was able to connect with fellow professionals who face the same challenges and hurdles as I do. Discussing issues and learning from experienced fellow professionals who had already conquered challenges similar to mine gave me a boost of confidence that was greatly needed. Having been thrust into the grant world with no local colleagues to confer with, it was especially reassuring to have met other individuals who shared similar experiences and know that I can contact them for advice or guidance.
Because the sessions indicated whether they were beginner, intermediate or advanced, I was able to target those sessions that were most suited to my skill level. Another session that I attended was geared towards beginners and focused on how to manage a team and collaborate in order to complete a grant. As a new grants coordinator at my institution, I was looking for ways to work effectively with those who weren’t as focused on pursuing grant opportunities. I left that session feeling like I had tools that would assist me in engaging and inspiring those around me to actively participate in grant initiatives. The session also gave me ideas on how to best articulate my role and my expectations for team members through the entire grants process.
Because I attended the conference, I was able to learn much more than I ever could through my use of webinars and other self-education tools.  Without the assistance of the scholarship, I would not have been able to afford to attend the conference and would have missed an amazing opportunity to further my skills, network with fellow professionals, and bring that knowledge and skill set back to my institution. With the skills I acquired at the conference, I believe that my grant writing has improved and I know that I will better assist my institution in acquiring grants that will make a difference within my community.
Being a scholarship recipient made my goal of conference attendance a reality. Without the aid of the Foundation, I would have been unable to afford to attend the conference and would have missed out on all the opportunities the conference afforded me. I am truly grateful to the Foundation for giving me the opportunity to attend the conference and make myself a more well-rounded and better educated grant professional.

First Time and Fabulous!

First Time and Fabulous!
Kristin Holowicki, Grant Coordinator, City of Coral Springs, FL

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.

Building Bridges to a Better World

Lisa Deem, Grant Specialist, City of Flagstaff
December, 2014

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.