PEAK Grantmaking regularly features members on our blog to demonstrate the diversity of our association and expand opportunities for connections. Want to be featured? Email Leah Farmer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Meet Jeanne Brown, Program Officer at The Medical Foundation, with Health Resources in Action.
Q. How did you get into grants management?
I came into the grants management world by chance when I was looking for a position that would allow flexibility when my daughter was young. I was meeting with a group talking about career transitions when someone mentioned the position in grants management. I honestly had never thought about how grants were made. The position was in grant making for medical research and I had worked in provider relations in an HMO setting so I began to see the possible synergy. Some of the strong correlations between my experience and grant making were people, procedure and process.
Q. What’s your background (education and work)?
My people management training wheels came at my first job working the “world famous” Filene’s Basement at 16 years old. It was crazy hectic store in Boston that attracted people from all walks of life which made for many an interesting day. I also worked at an office assistant through college so had a good view on office procedures including the ancient artifacts like Rolodex, card catalogs and Fax machines. In college, I was an economics major. My career started in the revenue department of state government where there were several new initiatives being launched. I really enjoyed building something from the ground up and helping to pull teams together. I moved into the academic arena at BU School of Public Health where I met people with a passion for the greater good. One of the professors was starting a new concept HMO for people with chronic illness and AIDS. I worked on setting up procedures for this new entity which was really breaking new ground in caring for special populations. The internet and new data systems were on the fast track at this time so I was able to jump into implementing new systems. In one great relationship, the analyst was known as “Data Girl” and I was “Answer Chick” and we were saving the world together. All of these experiences got me ready to take on the complexity of the grants world.
Q. What’s your favorite part of the grants management job?
The best part of my job in grants management is knowing that I am helping make great things happen. There are so many moving parts from contracting, finance and systems to arranging meetings and events. I get to deal with fabulously smart people who act with a good heart. I love to hear that some process I worked on made someone’s job easier or a more fun experience. I think that working with the grants systems to make improvements is very satisfying.
Q. What frustrates you about your job?
I feel very frustrated when I encounter a lack of understanding and trust from colleagues about my knowledge about grant making. I don’t mind explaining how things are set up or why procedures are a certain way but I do mind being doubted or not heard. Sometimes I would like to go into Mom-mode and say “Because I said so!”
Q. What do you wish your colleagues and coworkers knew about what you do?
I wish that there was a greater handle on how each small decision I make on a part of the process is contributing to a more efficient whole and that I think of how the process impacts the people involved.
Q. What do you wish every grants manager knew about their job?
Grant makers should know that they are so important to Team Good. We may not be curing cancer but we are helping make the world a better place.
Connect with Jeanne via LinkedIn: @JeanneBrownBoston