Q&A with Marley Gaddis, Grants ManagerMay 8, 2023
It takes time and money to implement our vision for freshwater. Each year we secure millions of dollars of valuable funds from foundations and agencies. We recently chatted with Marley Gaddis, TFT’s grants manager and lead grant writer for more than 20 years.
In two sentences tell us what you do at The Freshwater Trust.
I organize the development and submittal of proposals requesting funding from grantmakers. I also help to create, update, and manage the internal systems and processes that TFT uses to track both grant and earned revenue funding opportunities – from vetting initial prospects to submitting final reports on completed work.
What’s the most important thing you’re working on right now?
The historic investments in the environment and climate resilience that are being made through recent legislation (such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act) are creating unprecedented opportunities for grant funding that will enable TFT to demonstrate its data-driven restoration approaches at scale. We have recently partnered on several significant proposals, and we are positioning the organization to develop competitive proposals for additional large-scale projects later this year and in 2024.
How would you explain what you do to someone who has no idea what it is?
A wide array of public and private funders want to invest in actions that improve the health of our ecosystems. I help to match TFT’s initiatives with the interests and missions of these funders, and then collaborate with colleagues to organize information about our projects into a clear and compelling application that demonstrates how our work can directly support the funders’ goals.
How long have you worked at The Freshwater Trust?
I was hired as the administrative assistant in January of 2001 – 22 years ago! I moved into the grants manager role around 2003.
How has the organization changed over time, and what makes you excited about what’s happening now?
The organization’s mission has remained the same, but the approaches we take to achieve it have necessarily evolved to respond to new challenges and new opportunities. I am really excited by the recent growth in opportunities for TFT to apply its varied expertise to address the most complex resource issues.
We are becoming recognized nationally for our work, and as a result we are sought after as a partner by a wide range of stakeholders.
Best memory of working at TFT?
One of the most memorable experiences was my first visit to see our restoration projects in the Sandy River basin outside Portland, Oregon. I had already been fundraising for the project for years and had seen many pre- and post-project photographs. But to see the scale of the restored side channels and large wood habitat structures firsthand, and to see fish already utilizing the new habitat was an incredible experience. That visit really deepened my connection to our work.
Last book you read or movie you watched?
Book: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
Last place you traveled.
My husband and I spent spring break in Arizona visiting his family.
A quote you live by?
My parents had a copy of Max Ehrmann’s poem “Desiderata” on the wall throughout my childhood. When I am feeling a bit stuck, there is one passage in particular that comes to my mind:
“You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
What’s the number one piece of advice you have for someone trying to get into this field?
I think the number one piece of advice I would offer is to pursue a job with an organization that has a mission aligned with your values.
Working deadline-to-deadline can be stressful, but if you are invested in the work you are writing about, it makes it all worth it.