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Meet Rikard Treiber, Director of Grants at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation
Q. How did you get into grants management?
I started my career in the research department of the Foundation Center, where I learned about this world of philanthropy with which I was almost entirely unfamiliar. For 4 years, I carried out research on trends in foundation philanthropy and learned about the philanthropic world, and the next natural step for me was to work directly with a foundation.
Q. What’s your background (education and work)?
I did graduate work in Sociology and American Studies, where I focused on cultural analysis, urban development, and social theory. After my first career-track job at the Foundation Center, I became grants manager at the Commonwealth Fund and Director of Grants Management and Associate Corporate Secretary at Carnegie Corporation before my current position at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
Q. What’s your favorite part of the grants management job?
The never ending surprises! From database issues to unannounced changes with grantees to paper requests delivered by hand (even though we haven’t accepted paper requests for years). There’s always something that comes up unexpectedly. I like it. It keeps me on my toes.
Q. What frustrates you about your job?
I don’t I have any particular job frustrations, but as somewhat of an idealist, I find myself frustrated by the slow pace of social change when there are so many dedicated, passionate professionals engaged in improving the world around us. I’m frustrated that no matter the desire or the efforts, we face obstacles every day to making even common sense improvements to people’s opportunities to lead fulfilling lives.
Q. What do you wish your colleagues and coworkers knew about what you do?
Not as much in my current job as in the past, I wish my colleagues knew that grants managers don’t make the laws and regulations that sometimes constrain the work they want to carry out. We as grants managers need to be better at explaining where the constraints on grantmaking come from, and how we can help overcome them.
Q. What do you wish every grants manager knew about their job?
I wish every grants manager knew that they have the capacity, every day, to provide their colleagues with the solutions to their most vexing operational (and often strategic) concerns as they carry out their work. Grants managers know more about the technology, data capabilities, IRS regulations, budgeting, complex forms of giving, and so on, than most anyone on their foundations’ staff. We can build fulfilling careers and move into leadership roles based on our positive and proactive contributions to our organizations’ philanthropic efforts.