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Making the Most of Your Local GPA Chapter for Professional Development

Membership in the Grant Professionals Association affords each of us the opportunities and the knowledge to understand and feel that we are not alone in the potentially lonely world of writing and managing grants. We go to the national conferences, and we mingle with others in our positions, lamenting the same woes and celebrating the same triumphs. We swap contact information with our new friends and go home thinking about the incredible luck that befell us, that allowed us to know these people and to experience these conferences.


But there is no need to let the benefits stop there! Go home and get involved in your local chapter of the Grant Professionals Association. Your local chapter is a great source of professional development opportunities! Allow me to explain a few of the ways in which these opportunities can help to make YOU a better grant professional. My examples come from the offerings of the Mohawk Hudson GPA Chapter because it is the one I know (and love!), but no doubt other local chapters provide similar training for members. The training, workshops, presentations, and gatherings provide professional development in different ways, thereby helping members to become more well-rounded and knowledgeable ambassadors for our grants profession.
Local chapters offer a variety of formats and topics, each with their take on professional development. A few of the Mohawk Hudson chapter's most recently-presented opportunities include:
  • Meet the Funders” from which members received a behind-the-scenes look at exactly what the funders (especially local funders) want to see in the applications they review;
  • Grant Writers' Breakfast Café”, which consisted of a group of local grant professionals meeting for a casual discussion of ideas, resources and “war stories” at a local breakfast nook; 
  • Accessing Census Data for Grant Writing Purposes,” where the staff of the local planning commission shared its knowledge and expertise about the appropriate and efficient use of Census data (who knew that confusing fantastic website could provide SO MUCH information!); and
  • Submitting Federal Grants: What You Need to Be Successful,” which provided tips and tricks for navigating through the sometimes murky funding applications. 
Local GPA chapters offer valuable professional development opportunities that are affordable and easy to access, which makes it simple for members to broaden horizons and to delve into topics that may or may not have piqued an interest in the past.
My personal experience with these learning opportunities has been, whether they seem relevant and applicable or not, they are useful. Whether you think you already know about a certain topic or not, there is something to learn and use in your work. Whether your schedule is already busy and hectic, it is worth your time to attend these sessions. I have been able to walk away with good, useful information every time, and find myself referencing these workshops repeatedly in my day-to-day life as a grant professional.