January 11, 2024

Warm Welcome to the New Year

Welcome to 2024!

When Erin and I started TGP in 2003 (after doing grant consulting for a year), we never expected the wild ride we would take for the next couple of decades. As any business owner can attest — kind of like parenting — the days are long but the years are short. Just yesterday, our fledgling company was learning how to walk and talk, much like our infants and toddlers. We have now made it to the stage of young adulthood, with the future shining bright with possibilities, and we are getting smarter with each day.

2023 was no exception. We had a record year, in more ways than one.

Accomplishments in 2023

As in recent years, our all-staff retreat in September 2023 was a highlight of the year. Like other businesses, the pandemic had hidden benefits – for TGP, this was casting a net far beyond central NM when it came to hiring. We already had remote and hybrid workers, but the pandemic normalized it. Still, there was no denying the grief that Erin and I felt when it came to missing in-person touchpoints with our team. 2023 marked the third year we brought everyone to Albuquerque to meet in person and enjoy the camaraderie that can be found through personal connection. Our team’s top three highlights (based on a post-retreat survey) were:

  1. Small strategic working groups focused on a restructuring of our client services team and a workforce expansion group that will help us “be the change we want to see” when it comes to our team being more representative of the clients we serve and their constituents.
  2. Client site visits where we enjoyed hearing and seeing the impact of our daily work and learning more about the intricacies of what our clients do. We were honored to visit the City of Albuquerque, PB&J Family Services, and The Semilla Project.
  3. A presentation Erin and I made on the past 20 years and looking ahead. We had a fun time going down memory lane, noting our progress and milestones and even our missteps, and sharing those with our current team.

“This helped me fully realize the impact that TGP has had over the past two decades in ABQ and NM. Great way to kick off the retreat and get excited about what’s to come.”

In November, Erin and I were honored as the AREA Advocate of the Year. This award recognizes a business leader who has made a measurable difference by investing in projects that have created jobs and enhanced central NM’s ability to attract investment. We had a great time celebrating with other business leaders, and especially with our team, our spouses, and even our parents attended the dinner! (We’re sisters 😃 )

“Trailblazers never settle for less… proving that with dedication and hard work, we can achieve extraordinary heights. Congratulations to these two rock stars, Tara and Erin!”

Perhaps the most impactful moment of 2023, at least quantitatively, was surpassing $250 million in grant awards received by our clients. We believe in the value of every dollar, and we celebrate each award our clients receive. Seven-figure grants applied for in 2023 that propelled us to the $250M milestone were awarded by (so far!): the NM Departments of Children Youth & Families, Early Childhood Education & Care, Information Technology, and Public Education; the US Centers of Disease Control, Department of Education, and the Minority Business Development Agency. And many more grants are still pending! Can’t wait to see where we end the year – we typically report on final annual numbers in Fall of the following year.

“Making a difference with you all these last few years has been exciting and so impactful for our community and the children and families we serve.”

We also added the most team members we have ever onboarded in a year and are feeling solid about where we’re at. Please join us in welcoming new Resource Development Officers Saige Stewart, Emily Bartz, and Marisa Sleeter. We also give a warm welcome to our new Resource Development Associates who assist the rest of the client services team: Kylee Winner and Samantha Canuel. We also piloted an Operations Internship in which we benefited from the support of students Kiersten and Amelia. And at the end of 2023, we welcomed Rachel Gauvin as our new Director of Grant Services. Rachel is now orchestrating TGP’s grant service delivery when it comes to client strategy, prospect research, grant writing and related projects, and grant compliance (more on that below).

This new crew joins our already amazing team who have been with us for years – in fact two celebrated their 15-year anniversaries with TGP in 2023!

  • Aly Sanchez, Director of Strategy & Organizational Development – 15 years
  • Wendy McCoy, Senior Resource Development Officer – 15 years
  • Paula Azua-Stofleth, Business Manager – 13 years
  • Cecily Peterson, Senior Resource Development Officer – 8 years
  • Amorena Almand, Resource Development Officer – 3 years
  • Laurel Meister-Schmuck, Senior Resource Development Officer – 3 years
  • Tonia Brown, Senior Resource Development Officer – 3 years
  • Molly Callaghan, Operations & Project Manager – 2 years
  • Tricia Willard, Resource Development Officer – 1 year

Apart from our core work family, in 2023 we concentrated on surrounding ourselves with the right people. This includes our grant compliance contractor Marya Roddis, as well as other incredible professionals: our Business Coach Stephanie, our Entreleadership Advisory Group and SBA THRIVE Small Business Owners Council facilitated by Marytza and Karen respectively, our Fractional CFO Jeff, our lawyers Tom and Taylor from Briones Business Law Consulting, and our CPA and Tax Advisor, Michael. We’ve been building this professional services team for a few years now, and in 2023 it all gelled like hands folded together in prayer.

If you worked with TGP in 2023 as a decision-maker for your organization, we invite you to participate in our 2023 client survey.

This survey will close at the end of the month. If you have not yet taken it, please consider spending (an average of) 8 minutes to help us improve our services. To express our appreciation, you’ll also receive a 15% discount on your next invoice.

Priorities in 2024

We made a lot of progress in 2023 and we want to keep the momentum going. Here are some changes you can expect:

The team you’ve relied on for years is refining their roles. Under the direction of Erin and me, and supported by Rachel, Director of Grant Services, and Aly, Director of Strategy & Organizational Development, the grant services team will further delineate their expertise.

Cecily Peterson

Client Strategy, to include client liaising, project coordination and strategy, and strong onboarding

Wendy McCoy

Grant Research, to include identifying potential funding opportunities and conducting research to gather information on grants that align with clients’ goals and programs

Laurel Meister-Schmuck

Grant Writing, to include leading the development of proposals by coordinating cross-team collaborations, and ensuring that proposals are well-written, persuasive, and meet the requirements of the grantor

Tonia Brown

Grant Compliance, to include helping clients adhere to federal regulations, grant terms, and other requirements when managing grant-funded programs

Our hope is that by creating a model bespoke to TGP and our clients, we can retain the family feeling that we all love and appreciate while still preparing for delivering our services on a larger scale.

Grant Compliance

As alluded to above, we are expanding our post-award services to include grant compliance. This is a strategic offering in response to industry conditions, client requests, and a dearth of professional providers. We have long assisted our clients with post-award progress and financial reporting, and over the years have of necessity built up our grant management knowledge. It’s ready to go primetime in 2024. Contact us if you need help with developing grant management policies and procedures, post-award training, business systems design that optimize grant management processes, grant compliance monitoring, and risk management assessments.

Capacity Building & Training

Other expanded services in 2024 include our capacity building and training service line. After a seven-year relationship with our sister organization and nonprofit education arm, Pivotal NM, its services discontinued in 2022 and we spent 2023 reimagining how we can play a strong role in building the capacity of organizations – particularly in New Mexico – to win grants that will bolster their revenue. We are working with state public departments as well as private funders on this effort. In fact, both groups have placed grant opportunities on our website in a strategic alliance: the NM Department of Finance & Administration has published a digital Catalog of Local Assistance, and a group of NM Funders has commissioned research for NM Priority Grant Programs. We invite you to take a look and join the effort for getting more funding into New Mexico’s communities! And if you need grant training services for your staff, constituents, or network, the TGP team is highly-skilled and well-versed in all aspects of grant development and has standard and custom trainings that can support your work.

Finally, Erin and I want to find our forever-home for TGP in 2024. We began this manifestation in 2020, with the goal of owning our own space before 2025. We are ready, our team is ready, our banker is ready, and our agent is ready. Please keep this in the back of your mind should you see or hear of a place that might work.

Our vision for our space: “Our team has the freedom to work remotely or in our beautiful space where they can collaborate or work independently and quietly, with additional space to decompress or take a break when needed. Our office is welcoming, comfortable, and homey as well as authentic to the team and its culture. The aesthetics inspire the intellect. The office has space for our team to perform at their highest level, provides them with what they need to succeed, and brings a feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction when going to work. Our space is a physical manifestation of how we care for our team.”

From our hearts to yours, we wish you the best in 2024 and thank you for being our partner!

Contact: Tara Gohr, President/CEO, tara@thegrantplantnm.com

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