Thursday, March 8, 2018

Alameda County Non-Profit Drivers for Survivors to hold Annual Gala on Saturday, April 7 2018

-By Emily Anderson

FREMONT, CALIF.  - Drivers for Survivors, a 501 c (3) non-profit located in Fremont, Calif., is holding its Fourth Annual Black and White Ball next month on Saturday, April 7th at Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, Calif. Like a toddler graduating from its first infant steps into childhood, Drivers for Survivors has pleasantly and professionally grown into a wonderful five-year-old non-profit which provides much needed support to cancer patients who need rides to their medical appointments who may not otherwise have a ride.

The phrase volunteer companionship is often used on the Drivers for Survivors website and in its communications with donors and the community. What Executive Director Sherry Higgs dubs as “volunteer companionship” is very important to the mission. Volunteers who drive cancer patients to their medical appointments do indeed offer social companionship.

If you’re philanthropic minded, you can drive yourself to the Castlewood CountryClub in Pleasanton, Calif. It’s about 14 miles away from the Drivers for Survivors office. The gala will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. and any one is invited to attend. Tickets are available for purchase at this link: Tickets are $100 per person or $800 per table.

According to the Drivers for Survivors press release:

“Newark Saxophone Quartet will provide the evening’s cocktail hour music, and performance from      Julie Bannerton will mark the evening of our 5-year service milestone. Drivers For Survivors will be honoring Toni E. Fogarty, Ph.D., MPH as a major contributor towards the organization’s success.

Come join us for a festive evening of cocktails, dinner, and dancing. Your presence and support will send a powerful message towards our mission. Sponsors: Premier Nissan and Premier Subaru of Fremont, Renshaw Foundation, Davita, Inc., Kaiser Permanente, Whole Foods Market, The Bernardin Family McDonald’s of Fremont, Dale Hardware, Dutra Enterprises, Fremont Elks Lodge #2121, Mean Well USA, Inc., Republic Services, S5 Advisory, Sisters of the Holy Family, and Horizon Financial Associates.”

Ms. Toni Fogarty is a professor and works at Calif. State University, East Bay in the department of affairs and public administration. She is the graduate coordinator for the Master of Science Health Care Administration program offered at C.S.U. East Bay. Intrigued why she will be the honoree of the evening on April 7, she gives some insight:

"I've been working with Sherry and Drivers for Survivors from almost the start (of its founding) when a MS-HCA alumnus introduced me to Sherry. Sherry and I have worked closely since then to provide MS-HCA students with internship opportunities at D.F.S, which has been a 'win' / 'win' situation for D.F.S., the MS-HCA program and the community.

"Having competent interns greatly contributed to Driver's For Survivor's Growth and its ability to better serve the community. The students placed at D.F.S. had substantial learning opportunities in a variety of different operational areas and all of them reported that the experience at DFS was beneficial to their professional development. Of course, the overwhelming majority of Drivers for Survivors' success can be attributed directly to Sherry's work and the work of the volunteer drivers. 

"The M.S.-H.CA. (program staff, students and I) are just glad that we could contribute to a part of that success. DFS is a valuable community resource, and I hope that we can continue our internship partnership.”

For those of you living in the Alameda County area, get ready. Mark your calendars. And drive out to dine in at the Castlewood Country Club while supporting a great cause.

Monday, February 19, 2018

"Alianza de Campesinas" Board Member Monica Ramirez Talks Golden Globes, Farm Worker Women's Rights and Time's Up Movement

-By Emily Anderson

In a time in our country when people of all races, ethnicities and genders are finally getting some equality recognition in the United States (with gay marriage being legalized and women speaking out against sexual harassment), there are still a lot of issues that aren’t quite right. Often, society chooses to single people out who aren’t straight, white, or male.

The Time’s Up movement – a recent movement created by Hollywood women – is gaining a foothold across the country as it empowers other women across all organizations, industries and social class to take a stand and help trump sexual attackers and harassers in the work place.

Monica Ramirez was one of the guests who attended the Golden Globes award ceremony in Hollywood with actress Laura Dern in January. Intrigued by who this woman is, I wondered why she attended and how she is a part of the Time’s Up movement.

Photo courtesy of Monica's LinkedIn
Ramirez is involved in a bunch of political causes, and she is the deputy director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (L.C.L.A.A.) and a board president of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Calif. Founded in 2011, this non-profit consists of membership-based organizations across the United States which collectively help farm worker women and women from farm worker families gain access to resources to help fight against sexual harassment and unequal pay.

According to its website, Alianza de Campesinas is committed to securing social, environmental, and economic justice; violence prevention; equality, and healthier work places, homes and communities for farm worker women and their families. Alianza de Campesinas members are particularly concerned with ending work place exploitation against farm worker women and all farm workers, including sexual harassment."

The Alianza de Campesinas had a letter published in Time Magazine on Nov. 10, 2017 about its opinions on the Time’s Up movement. Click here to read it (

A profound paragraph states: “We do not work under bright stage lights or on the big screen. We work in the shadows of society in isolated fields and packinghouses that are out of sight and out of mind for most people in this country. Your job feeds souls, fills hearts and spreads joy. Our job nourishes the nation with the fruits, vegetables and other crops that we plant, pick and pack.”

The juxtaposition of prominent Hollywood women who started Time’s UP, working alongside equally important, less financially well-to-do women, is powerful. It goes to show that inappropriate men can act as such and can especially curb poorer women to speak the truth to protect themselves physically, financially and emotionally from future abuse.
"These are issues that have always existed, but in some ways seem to have been exacerbated both because the gaps between men and women are so large, but also because women are not willing to wait any longer for these issues to be resolved. We are taking matters into our own hands, for ourselves, for our families, our country and our world."

It’s no wonder that the Hollywood women who started Time’s UP are connecting with other organizations which also have a no-holds-barred approach to giving themselves a voice. According to a recent Time article in January about Time’s UP, “Time’s Up formed a legal defense fund that currently totals $13 million in donations to help women from across the world of work to report sexual harassment or assault. The group encourages anyone to donate to the legal defense fund…”

As of today, the fund totals more than $21 million. If you'd like to donate, please click here:

One of the ways Alianza de Campesinas helps farm worker women is to direct them to legal help. According to their website, legal examples are:
  • As victim advocates in civil and criminal investigations and proceedings
  • Advocacy with local, state and federal agencies on behalf of farm worker survivors of  violence to improve the level of care and responsiveness to farm worker victims and survivors' unique needs
  • Providing information and testimony to government agencies and other groups to improve laws and systems that serve farm workers
  • Educate and inform social service organizations, legal organizations, crisis centers and coalitions about special considerations for serving the farm worker population, among others
After women connect with Alianza de Campesina, what happens?

"Since Alianza is a national membership organization, we determine where the individual is located and we connect them with our member organizations for help," Ramirez said. "If there is no member organization in the area where the individual lives, we could provide the individual with information and resources (from) other organizations that can provide assistance for a range of care and assistance, depending on their needs.

"We also share general educational information with the individual to help orient her ... and what to expect when or if they decide to contact an agency. This is because some people may not know what to expect and (by) helping provide some basic information to (her), the individual feels more comfortable."

Ramirez understood from a young age that women weren't always treated well. She says as a child she knew some women who survived domestic violence. As she grew up, she realized that the same opportunities were not always equal for men and women.

She feels that there are many women's rights issues.

"At the heart of it, we must address all forms of gender equity for the benefit and best interests of our world. Women must hold equal power in politics, must be paid the same and offered the same opportunities at work and at school, and to live free of violence at work, at home and in our communities. 

"These are issues that have always existed, but in some ways seem to have been exacerbated both because the gaps between men and women are so large, but also because women are not willing to wait any longer for these issues to be resolved. We are taking matters into our own hands, for ourselves, for our families, our country and our world."

Ramirez took matters further when she attended the Golden Globes with actress Laura Dern as she was literally part of the movement. She and Dern bonded well and it was exciting for her to be with other Hollywood women are working toward ending violence against women.

"It was a really special time, which was made even better by the warm reception that we received by the other actors, individuals in the entertainment industry and the media who were there that night."

Other than being in the spotlight with Laura Dern, Ramirez has worked hard on several projects during her career. One example is when she co-authored Injustice on Our Plates when working at the Southern Poverty Law Center (located in Montgomery, Ala.), a report published in 2010 based on 150 interviews with immigrant women from Mexico and other Latin American countries. 

Most of the statistics on the Alianza de Campesinas website come mostly from the U.S. Department of Labor, and although Ramirez appreciates that the Department of Labor is one of the few agencies that conducts national studies on farm workers, she notes that the data isn't entirely broken down by gender statistics.

Ramirez' cofounder of Alianza de Campesinas is Mily Trevino-Sauceda. Ms. Trevino-Sauceda assisted with one of the first surveys in the 1980s about sexual harassment against farm worker women in California. So while most of the data is from the Department of Labor, much of its other statistics comes from her and Ms. Trevino-Sauceda's extensive knowledge they've gained over the years conducting other research on immigrant farm working women.

And while she wasn't able to attend the women's march on January 20th, she was busy attending to other equal important meetings. Other Alianza member organizations did attend marches all throughout the U.S. that day.

As for one last food for thought?

Ramirez wants to make sure that people understand that although she works to advocate for farm worker women, she knows that women across the board regardless of their background, are all connected.

"In order to end workplace sexual violence, we must also address other types of inequities that are symptoms and contributors to this problem."

Saturday, February 10, 2018

It's All About That Bass - Maryn Boess - Grant Writing Trainer Extraordinaire - That Is!

--By Emily Anderson

Just as Meghan Trainor sings that it's all about that bass, it's all about a certain Ms. Maryn Boess who is all about grant proposal training. 

Maryn Boess (pronounced base) is a grant writing guru who loves all things grants-related. She's a long-time grant writing professional who has written grants as well as reviewed grant proposals others have submitted. Her familiarity with both sides of the grant-seeking and grant-reviewing world has helped to shape her current business format - she provides wonderful grants-training courses online. She's based in the Pacific Northwest but enjoys teaching people all over the world.

Here's a close-up Q&A with Maryn Boess.

Photo courtesy of the GrantsMagic Facebook page
How long have you been in business with Grants Magic U? 

I’ve been a grant professional since I wrote my first grant proposal in 1984 … yikes! Pre-Internet, pre-computer … In 1989 I broke off and started working on my own as an independent grant project planner and consultant. Over time I noticed that I was having a different level of success than many of my peers and colleagues, especially with federal funding. I put together a simple little 2-hour workshop for the local United Way called “Are You Afraid of Federal Funding?” – it was beyond standing room only. 

At some point I realized that I had an ability to synthesize complex information and make it accessible. After a [clash] with one of my biggest clients, I decided to stop the grant writing and go full time on developing and delivering grants trainings. I don’t exactly remember what year that was … maybe 2003? That business grew and grew and grew and I was traveling all over the country giving live workshops. GrantsMagic U was born in April 2015 when I realized that though I loved developing and delivering the training, I did not so much love all the traveling and I could really reach more people if I could transfer the portfolio of courses to an online, virtual platform. The path forward was pretty rocky but we opened our first signature course in October of 2015 with three nonprofit associations as partners – a big win! 

What do you enjoy most about teaching grant proposal writing?

I have always lived for the “aha!” moment – that moment when I can see a new concept drop in and someone suddenly “gets” something in a really big way – (something) that transforms them, transforms their belief system, and transforms the way they relate to themselves and their reality. I’ve taught in other, non-professional arenas and I’m always going for that big “aha!” (moment). Even (with) making a video all by myself in my office I have no trouble tapping into that energy and excitement and passion in myself and I am 100 percent committed to making sure that it comes through, full on, in everything I share. 

So I love two things about this work. First, I LOVE it when someone shares with me their excitement at having gotten a grant thanks to the tools they’ve learned with me. Even more, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it when I get an e-mail from someone expressing gratitude for my passion and my energy and encouragement: “You give me great confidence that I can do this” or “I’m so inspired and excited” are two of my very favorite phrases.

What brought you to the Pacific Northwest from Arizona?

Sometimes life decides it’s time to shake things up. That was me, in 2010. After living most of my life and raising my family in Phoenix, the earth kind of shook under my feet and all the things that had kept me feeling pretty much obligated to stay in Arizona all fell away, in powerfully positive ways. (Example: A large part of my business was specifically tied to providing grant-maker information services specific to Arizona nonprofits. Out of the blue, I was given the opportunity to transfer that service over into the care and keeping of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, which still views the Arizona Guide to Grants Online as a key element of their member service portfolio.) 

I’d first visited Portland as a board member of the Grant Professionals Association, in 2009, and knew (even though it was November) that I’d move there in an instant if I could. Green things! Water! Hurray! So when life set me free, so to speak, I made the move in early 2011. What made it easier was my daughter and her family (including my grandson) also moved with me. Within the next few years my second daughter and one of my two sons have also moved here.

What do you want people who are seeking a career in grant writing to know? Is it a hard career to get into? Do people with certain skill sets have a better chance of being a grant writer than people who don't possess certain skills?

In the grant writing world, it’s hard to balance optimism and realism. It’s tough! And there are so many misunderstandings and misconceptions about the landscape, the ecosystem, and “how it all works.” If there’s anything at all I would want everyone in the grant writing world to know, it would be to have a better understanding of the world of the grant maker. It’s a world I’ve come to know and inhabit myself. I was very much an insider in the grant making community in Phoenix, and in 2006 I became a program officer / manager of a quasi-governmental grant making program (which I still run), managing up to $2 million a year in grant making. Now my sweet spot, I guess you could say, is to really play off my dual citizenship in the grants world, pull back the curtain, open up that Black Box, and try to give the grant-seeking folks an experience of what it’s like for the grant making folks. I think having what I call the “3-D Perspective” – as opposed to a kind of tactical tunnel vision – is hugely important. And being able to zoom in (to the fine detail) and zoom out (to the very big picture) quickly and without becoming seasick is crucial too.

Being able to write well is important. That means being able to organize information clearly and compellingly. Attention to detail is important, yes indeed. But more than this, I do believe, the ability to stay clear of single-organization / single-focus tunnel vision and step fully into the possibilities as a catalyst for positive change in the community … that’s what I really like to see.

What do you enjoy about non-profit work in general?

My first 10 years in grown-up jobs were pretty much all about writing for corporate clients: business press releases, business publications features, ad copy, etc. I used to call it “selling soap.” It was gratifying to put my skills and creativity to work, but soap was not my passion. I didn’t encounter non-profit work 'till my early 30s and there was no looking back. People of passion work in all kinds of areas. And these days there’s more and more crossover between for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in terms of our roles as change agents in the world. But working with and for not-for-profits just keeps me closer to the heart of that change-agent energy. Many nonprofit folks are entrepreneurial in their approach to their work and I’ve always had a strong (in-born) entrepreneurial streak so I value that as well. And gosh, the not-for-profit sector is so under-resourced! I guess I just decided to dig in and go deep in an arena where I could really make a difference.

Your online courses are amazing, especially for the prices. What do you want potential students / customers to know about your grant courses if they are deciding between your courses and other online grants courses? What makes yours unique?

The comment I hear most often about my online courses is “Gosh, I thought it would be just another dull and dry presentation. But you were so enthusiastic! Your passion was contagious. The time just flew by.” I love that! 

I make a commitment every single time to bring that aliveness and energy and excitement and inspiration and confidence to the training I do. No one will be bored on my watch! The other aspect that sets these courses apart is that dual-citizenship thing – the fact that I can speak with authority about what life looks like “on the other side,” from the grant maker /program officer’s perspective. This is jaw-dropping for almost everyone … it’s so hard to really get outside our own “black box” of beliefs and perspectives … there’s that “aha!” thing again. You just don’t get that 360-degree, 3-D view in other grants trainings!

When students complete your courses, you send a congratulations e-message as well as a profound quote. Do you attach a profound quote to all e-mails when students complete any course of yours? What made you want to do this?

It’s all part and parcel with my commitment to show up and encourage and inspire. Profound quotes ground me and keep me moving forward, and if I can share something that does that for someone else, I will. I use a quotation from Peace Pilgrim at the bottom of every email. I’ve used the same quote for years and years. Every once in a while I try to mix things up and use a different one … but this one just keeps coming back: “Live in the present. Do the things that need to be done. Do all the good you can each day. The future will unfold." – Peace Pilgrim. The simplicity and directness are what appeals to me. 

[I also use quotes] from Howard Thurman, [and it] is just so deep and rich and just feeds my soul and makes me feel brave enough to do really tough things. And don’t we all need more of that in our lives?

Please tell me anything else you'd like to share!

There are big plans for GrantsMagic U in 2018! The foundations (of the business) are solid now and we’re ready to grow and evolve in a big way. We now have more than 4,500 community members from (at last count) 48 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and at least 11 foreign countries. How amazing is that! I’m both humbled and thrilled … and can’t wait to get busy on those big plans.