Grants Manager, Lisa Day, joined WomenVenture a little over a year ago with a decade of grant writing experience and a lifelong passion for writing and the arts.
Prior to her career as a grant writer, Lisa pursued a degree in English from the University of Iowa where she also obtained an MFA in playwriting. She has always loved writing stories and early in her playwrighting career, Lisa performed much of what she wrote herself in one-person plays. Eventually, she stopped acting but continued to write and direct for theater companies and has put on three full productions!
In 2008 Lisa found herself applying for an administrative support position on the fundraising team of Neighborhood House. Lisa had been awarded multiple grants for writing contests and put these awards on her resume when applying for this position to demonstrate she had a basic understanding of funding. The organization recognized her strong writing skills and asked if she would be willing to apply for the grant writer position. With no prior experience, Lisa jumped in headfirst, gaining the knowledge and skills of the industry as she was actively participating in it.
The transition from playwright to grant writer was not an easy journey. “There are a lot of rules in grant writing you have to follow whereas there is an element of theater that you break the rules, as an artist you are often encouraged to push through the boundaries.”
Grant writing can be a steep learning curve, and after her initial years, Lisa was uncertain if the industry was right for her. Ultimately Lisa decided to take a break from fundraising and took a sales coordinator position at a local bike shop. After six years she realized she wasn’t utilizing her writing skills and experience to the fullest. She had matured and felt that she now had the capacity to navigate the challenges she had faced before, resuming her career as a grant writer.
Continuing her journey within the world of grants, Lisa found that her growth in her role as a grant writer coincided with her professional development goals, learning that to serve a higher good you must follow the set parameters. As she grew as a writer, she grew as a person too.
Nine years after her initial exposure to the grant writing industry, Lisa knew she had more to contribute to the ongoing conversations happening in her everyday work. She began pursuing a Master of Science in Measurement and Evaluation in January of this year. In less than a year Lisa has already seen the course’s impact on her work through asking questions that continue to push conversations forward and communicate WomenVenture’s impact to a wider audience.
Lisa hopes her contribution will facilitate the necessary conversations to support business owners, influencing and supporting strategic development, to be more inclusive of communities that do not always have a voice at the table.
After working in several grant-focused roles, Lisa decided she had grown enough professionally and personally that she was ready for a role with more leadership and independence. In her search she found WomenVenture an organization whose mission she could connect with. She expressed, “The WomenVenture culture is very energized and supportive, I feel good working within it and feel proud to be working on our team.”
Lisa is motivated in her day-to-day work by the stories of the business owners we serve and her knowledge that she is helping to provide access and opportunity for people to follow their dreams of entrepreneurship.
We at WomenVenture appreciate all the hard work and effort that Lisa puts into everything she does and are excited to watch her grow as she continues to embark on her educational journey.
So much about grant writing comes through the support of our community. If you have ideas for potential corporate partnerships or grants, Lisa invites you to reach out and share them with her.
Author: Autumn Lamparty, WomenVenture Grants and Communications Coordinator VISTA