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PEAK Grantmaking

Member of the Moment: Tonya Newstetter

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 ( 

Meet Tonya Newstetter, Associate Director of Grants Operations at the .

Q. How did you get into grants management?

I have known since I was little that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector. My mom and dad are both educators – she spent her career teaching elementary school students, and he is an independent guitar and music theory teacher – and I wanted to give back to the community in the same way. I graduated from college in the midst of the economic downturn in 2008 and applied for any and every non-profit or social enterprise job I could find. I finally got a hit at a small family foundation in San Francisco, and have been in philanthropy ever since, first in administration, then in finance and accounting, and, for the past three and a half years, in the corporate grantmaking space.

Q. What’s your background (education and work)?

At UC Berkeley I studied international development and education, and have always been fascinated with understanding how actors from government, the private sector, and civil society have a critical role to play in shaping our world. During my time at Berkeley, I held various jobs and internships, including an internship at the Chez Panisse Foundation, and a year-long Americorps position teaching civic engagement to incoming freshmen. Since graduating, I have worked at a private family foundation, an international donor-advised grantmaker, and now, at, where I am our Associate Director of Grants Operations supporting our education and workforce development portfolios as well as our employee-giving program.

Q. What’s your favorite part of the grants management job?

I love being at the nexus of different teams within our organization. Every day I’m interacting with colleagues from at least three different teams. In one day I might have a pipeline check-in with our education and workforce development leads, have a virtual call with our technology team around system enhancements, pull reporting on employee-giving trends for a request from marketing, and have one-on-one meetings with my team in San Francisco and Dublin. It’s an incredibly engaging role and gives me a unique perspective on how our organization runs.

Q. What frustrates you about your job?

I think that the philanthropic sector is moving in the right direction – better grantmaking and evaluation technology, more funder/grantee collaboration, and a focus on streamlining requests for materials. Ultimately, I think we would all love to reduce the paperwork and build more open and transparent relationships!

Q. What do you wish your colleagues and coworkers knew about what you do?

I wish they knew how much fun it is! From the outside, operational jobs can seem tedious, but I have a front row seat to all of the activity going on across all of’s grantmaking programs.

Q. What do you wish every grants manager knew about their job?

Grants Management is not just an administrative role. We have the ability to be decision-makers, influencers, and experts on portfolio analytics, major internal business systems, and organizational philosophy around key issues such as transparency, measurement & evaluation, and unrestricted grantmaking.