Can you tell us about your past work experience as a practitioner and how that experience might inform your renewed role as a funder?
In my case, having spent time in the field (in Kentucky, focused on energy policy) gives me a good sense for the scale and scope of the challenges that many of the grantees of the Network are facing. Understanding the interconnectedness of the capacity issues in Central Appalachia will help me understand, as a funder, how to build a portfolio that addresses the totality of those issues. Money alone is not the problem; we want to direct resources to help leverage support. The purpose of the Appalachia Funders Network is to help augment financial dollars to help the region and move toward capacity building. The dollars are essential, but they are not everything.
What will be your area of focus in your new position?
I am the program officer for North American programs. We work in the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf Coast, and Central Appalachia. Climate change is a big focus of our work. We are trying to lift up new emerging sectors that these geographic areas could look to for their economic advancement. We are using climate change as a lens when we try to support opportunities for these communities to move forward.
What do you hope to gain by working in this Network?
I am really interested in hearing about funding opportunities and perspectives across the scale; really trying to understand how we can mutually reinforce our common efforts. How can we tap into and reinforce the focus on capacity that magnifies the dollars that members are pooling together? Also, I like helping to find a better funder for grantees that do not fit squarely into our priorities, through the Network we can point them to other organizations that can help. It’s a tough region to work in. It’s all big picture, long term, systemic change work; it needs friends and happy aspects to keep up this effort. The social aspect of it, having other folks who are dealing with the same challenges is helpful.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I am dying to go to Turkey. I have had a crush on it since seeing it in National Geographic: the food, culture, weather, climate - all of it. It is such interesting crossroads!