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 Mina Camacho, Grants Administrator at the The Henry Luce Foundation.
Q. How did you get into grants management?
After working as the Executive Assistant to the President for 11 years, we welcomed a new president and with the restructuring he implemented, I was assigned the additional task of supporting our grants manager. She taught me everything about due diligence, verifying non-profit statuses, how to correctly process an international grant, etc. When she retired at the end of 2012, I applied for and was selected to succeed her as the Grants Administrator in 2013.
Q. What’s your background (education and work)?
After studying Theater in college, I moved to New York to pursue that dream. After working several years in the restaurant industry, I decided to redirect my energies into clerical and office administration. I was able to hone my skills with an interior design firm, followed by a computer firm prior to joining the staff of the Henry Luce Foundation.
Q. What’s your favorite part of the grants management job?
I enjoy learning about our grantees as I process their requests. Becoming familiar with their work helps me to appreciate the careful assessment our Program Staff makes in presenting grants that further the Foundation’s mission, as well as the grantees mission. My favorite part is changing a proposal status to “Approved,” and then ultimately to “Closed.” I’m grateful to be an integral part of the “Circle of Life” of a grant.
Q. What frustrates you about your job?
For me, the most frustrating thing is when people don’t read. The Foundation’s grant guidelines clearly describe what our grant programs support and the parameters of our grantmaking. I dislike having to communicate negative responses for projects that clearly do not fit our guidelines, especially when the grantseeker has either disregarded those guidelines or think they might be the exception.
Q. What do you wish your colleagues and coworkers knew about what you do?
I wish my colleagues knew how much work is being done behind the scenes to bring a grant full cycle. I would like them to know the amount of time it takes to check board/trustees lists against the OFAC list; the number of typos that are corrected on grant records and board write-ups; the overall care that is taken to log reports, create payments, as well as all the other meticulous details that must be accomplished in grants management. It is a multi-faceted undertaking. My goal is to help the projects our program staff present move forward in the process toward a successful outcome, not to slow them down because of the required due diligence.
Q. What do you wish every grants manager knew about their job?
I believe grants management plays two integral functions. First, like a sentinel, we keep watch over changes in regulations to ensure our organization’s governmental compliance and reputation. Second, like a train engineer, we keep the Foundation’s work on track, making sure it’s running smoothly and on-time to a successful conclusion. Having just experienced the challenges of commuting into New York City’s Penn Station this summer as they made repairs in the tunnels, it reminded me of the necessity in our work of upgrading equipment (grants management systems); replacing tracks (going paperless); and adjusting schedules (virtual meetings) to ultimately bring a better outcome for everyone’s journey!