My “job” is also my passion; I’m the Director of Stakeholder Engagement at Foundation Center. I develop partnerships and projects that build knowledge and strategy in the social sector, with an eye specifically on grantmakers. In other words, I go to sleep thinking about how brilliant curation of qualitative and quantitative data can drive smarter decisions in philanthropy. I also run GrantCraft, which taps the practical wisdom of funders to develop resources that improve the practice of philanthropy worldwide. And this is all at my professional-crush organization Foundation Center – the go-to place for the latest data, research, news, and training for the nonprofit sector.
I have been involved with giving in some way since a young age, but solidified my interest in philanthropy through a college course sponsored by the Sunshine Lady Foundation; we had $10,000 to give away as a class, and assumed the roles of both grantwriters and grantmakers in the process. I later TAed the course, and was most enamored with the ability of funders to ask tough programatic questions of applicants to make sure that even a small grant would have maximum impact. I wrote proposals for nonprofits in the Boston area that I volunteered with, including LIFT, and then made the post-Tufts University decision to apply my sociology and community health background to more pressing matters: taxes.
As a paralegal for the Internal Revenue Service office of Chief Council, I learned a lot about human nature, negotiation, written rhetoric, government procedures, unions, death threats, and the Caymen Islands. While I enjoyed this work, I also enjoyed returning to giving money (rather than collecting it) as a Program Officer at the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, a small private foundation based in midtown. We had an incredible group of grantees and partners, and it was a privilege to work so closely with them on our healthy food, arts, and service portfolios.
Along the way, I also have found a real love for storytelling and improv comedy, which is the best professional development I’ve ever done. Using the principle of “yes, and”, I became a teacher at the Brooklyn Brainery, an adult skillshare for anything and everything, when I was encouraged by friends to share my grantwriting and connecting skills more broadly. Both improv and teaching happen when possible along with my board service, which is very important to me. I derive my energy from the people and experiences around me.
Since I have a lot of energy and laughter in my life, I’d call myself quite lucky.