Meet Grace Rooney
Grace Rooney has been a lifelong “convener of people,” and she has translated this personal penchant into a career in event planning. “I’m always the person elected social chair,” Grace reflects. “That’s just who I am, and I think it’s a natural fit with events.” From community gatherings with 25 attendees to the 2013 presidential inauguration attended by over 250,000 people, Grace’s experience runs the gambit, but she especially loves planning events focused on creating connections and moments for listening and learning.
Grace grew up in the Midwest, but her educational and professional pursuits took her first to the East Coast—she studied history at Boston University—and then to Carnation, Washington in 2006, where she served on a congressional campaign for Darcy Burner as a member of EMILY’s List’s Campaign Corps.
It would take two more moves between Washington state and Washington D.C. for Grace to call Seattle her permanent home. She returned in 2010 for Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)’s reelection campaign and again in 2015, this time for good. While in Washington D.C., Grace worked as a Scheduler and Executive Assistant for Senator Murray and as staff on the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, coordinating President Obama’s second inauguration.
For the last six years, Grace has been a freelance events consultant, but the desire for a professional “home” motivated her to apply with Group Health Foundation. She says, “I was looking to return to in-house, mission-based work and to be in an organization where I could build long-term relationships…I’m really inspired by the work GHF does, and I’m excited that it’s my work now too.”
She also appreciates that GHF lives its values when it comes to cultivating a team of people with multifaceted identities. “A lot of nonprofits have a mostly white staff, even when they’re serving communities of color. I respect that GHF walks the walk.”
Grace acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on people’s ability to be in community with one another and is looking forward to a safe return to in-person events. “I’m so excited to get to know the grantees and understand more about their organizations and communities. I’m hopeful that we can showcase their incredible work and that I can do my part to facilitate events where grantees can build community, learn from each other, and share information.”
As GHF’s first events manager, Grace will do just that, coordinating virtual and in-person events, including community building events, meetings, staff retreats, convenings, and conferences. From developing the framework for accessible events to determining day-of logistics, Grace will be engaged with all aspects of the process.
Outside of work, Grace enjoys spending time with her spouse and their two children. She and her husband have been renovating their 1910 home literally from the ground up—they just rebuilt the foundation! They’re hoping to preserve the home’s history as only the fourth family to live there. Grace also volunteers as a community ambassador for Westside Baby, a nonprofit that collects and distributes diapers and other baby supplies. It’s her way of giving back to a parenting community that has given her so much: “There’s this long history of co-op preschools and parenting groups in this community—those have become my people. It’s one of the things that makes Seattle such a special place.”