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March 6, 2014 / Rebekah Seder, Editor

Reflections from a Philanthropy Fellow: Sara Gallagher

By Sara Gallagher

Sara Gallagher is a 2014 Master of Public Policy candidate, specializing in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Through the Philanthropy Fellows program, Sara has interned at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and Calvert Foundation. She shared with us her thoughts on her experience in the Philanthropy Fellows program over the past two years.

The Philanthropy Fellows Program is a great opportunity for philanthropy and nonprofit management and leadership students to gain meaningful work experience in the sector. The partnership between the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers and the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership matches serious students in paid internships with member foundations and corporate giving programs.

Last year I worked as a Philanthropy Fellow for the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region on a number of communications and branding initiatives. My work at the Community Foundation gave me an in-depth understanding of how these unique community organizations work. I also learned about effective collaborative strategies with cross-sector and regional partners to make broad and deep impacts on issues like education, hunger, housing, and workforce development. I actually applied what I learned during my Fellowship for a major school project: a policy analysis on workforce programs.

This year I am a Philanthropy Fellow with Calvert Foundation, where I work with the Strategic Initiatives team on the development of new impact investing programs. I’ve been really challenged by my work at Calvert Foundation because of their investment focus; a lot of what they do goes beyond my school and work experience. Regardless, I’ve learned about program creation and management, as well as how to use impact investing to leverage the financial resources of philanthropists, investors, and ordinary people. Impact investing is a powerful tool for social change, and Calvert Foundation has shown me how to use it.

My fellowships have allowed me to complement my formal graduate studies with valuable, relevant work experiences, and the ability to practice and expand on my nonprofit training. When I graduate this May, I hope to work for a foundation that strengthens the nonprofit sector through capacity-building grantmaking for effective organizations.

WRAG members: We are now accepting applications for Philanthropy Fellows program for Fall 2014 through Spring 2015. If you are interested in hiring a fellow, please contact Rebekah Seder at for more information.

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