Strengthening Nonprofits - Advancing The Grant Profession
By Liz Ratchford; Keystone College, Director of Grants
2016 Susan Kemp Conference Scholarship Recipient
Like many of my fellow grant professionals, I did not start off my career in the grant world. I don’t think any of us when asked as a child what we wanted to be when we grew up answered: “grant professional!” But through what I consider a very fortunate series of events, I was asked by the small community I live in, with my husband and two daughters, if I could write a grant to help rebuild a park that had been destroyed by a winter flood. I had some experience as a technical writer before becoming a stay-at-home mom so I thought sure, I would like to help rebuild the park where my children play.
So now 21 years later, I am honored to work in this profession that is responsible for so many great projects and programs coming to fruition through the work we do every day. That park grant and the completion of the project to rebuild that park led to me becoming a full-time grant professional for a government organization.
I am now at a nonprofit, private college in the northeastern tier of Pennsylvania. Keystone College is a small, rural college, in the heart of the Endless Mountains region. I love the work I do, I love that every day I learn something new, I tackle a new challenge, and I get to work with professionals that have a passion for the work we can do together.
Being the director of grants at an educational institution afforded me the opportunity to become a member of the Grant Professionals Association. The college believes in education and life-long learning, so even though financial resources are limited, our president believed it was important for me to be a member of this professional organization.
The college faculty, staff, and administration are committed to educating our students and keeping the cost of a post-secondary education affordable for the students we serve. This vision is something I truly believe in and so I work to obtain grant funding to serve our students, staff, and faculty. I am so fortunate to have found that I have skills and talents that allow me to be a successful grant professional.
My next goal after becoming a member of the GPA was to attend an annual conference and improve my professional skill set (because we are always about articulating our goals and objectives). Since the college’s resources are limited I decided I would apply for a Grant Professionals Foundation (GPF) Conference Scholarship.
I submitted the scholarship request and hoped I had made a convincing argument for my need and my institution’s need for the support. I was so honored to receive the Susan B. Kemp Scholarship.
I had a wonderful experience at the conference in Atlanta! The networking, educational sessions, workshops, grant vendors, and especially volunteering at the auction were professionally enriching experiences.
I came back to Keystone energized and ready to take on any new grant challenge that came my way to serve the college and our students! My attendance at the conference was only possible because of the GPF scholarship. For the first time in my grant career I was in a room of professionals that understood the joys, challenges, and disappointments we encounter as part of our work. It was a pleasure to spend a few days with you in Atlanta, and I hope to see you all again very soon.