Getting to Know Us: Michelle Segal, Grant Writer at New York Common Pantry

Michelle was born and raised in Queens, NY. After finishing grad school at Hunter College, she moved to Austin, Texas. She was previously a Grant Writer for a small Catholic university, the American Red Cross, and a Grants Manager at the East Harlem Tutorial Program. Michelle also has experience in the hospitality industry as a Manager and Bar Manager at a variety of establishments. She currently resides in NYC. 


Q: What is your role in the organization and how does that fit into the work NYCP does?

A: I’m the Grant Writer at NYCP. I primarily write proposals so that we can receive monetary support from institutional funders, such as public and private foundations, corporate foundations, and state and local governments. I also report on the funding we receive from these institutions.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

A: I spend a lot of time writing about NYCP programs and initiatives, usually as a grant proposal. I also have to report on grants received, so I do a lot of information gathering, especially from the Programs team and Finance. In addition, I attend meetings with various Program staff, management, and funders. Funders also like to see the work that we are doing so I arrange site visits and help to give them tours of the Pantry.

Q: Are there any specific projects or initiatives that you are currently working on that you’re excited about?

A: There is something I’m working on that’s pretty exciting but I don’t want to talk about it yet because the funding isn’t guaranteed. I usually don’t talk about proposals when they are still pending because they are usually competitive and it’s uncertain whether we’ll receive funding or not, so I don’t want to raise anyone’s hopes up or create a misunderstanding. But I did just get a grant for new equipment for The Hub and I was really excited about that because it will make working at The Hub a little easier.

Q: How do you stay motivated and passionate about the cause, especially during challenging times?

A: I’m really lucky because even in challenging times, I’m writing about the work we do and its impact, so I’m constantly impressed with the good work that is done at NYCP and how much we have accomplished.

Q: In what way has working at NYCP helped you grow both personally and professionally?

A: Working as a Grant Writer at NYCP has helped me to continue to develop my writing skills, my project management skills as well as time management. It has also taught me to be grateful for what I have when so many are struggling to make ends meet.

Q: Is there a message or lesson from your experience that you would like to share?

A: As the Grant Writer, it’s really important that I know how things are going in the organization, so I’m always happy to hear from people who are doing the work, every day, to help people. I’m always interested to hear the success stories and the challenges that our participants and staff are facing. If you ever need a sympathetic ear or a cheerleader – I’m always available!

Q: What do you find most meaningful about the work you do?
A: In my work, I often need to make sure funders and donors understand why our programs are necessary. I usually do this by creating connections between the work we do and the issues facing society today, and it helps me find meaning in my work. By drawing parallels between what the organization is doing and what is going on in society, I can see how the work we do makes a difference.

Q: What do you like to do for fun? 

A: I like to work on impossibly complicated puzzles that take forever. I like to cook, read, do yoga and love museums.