Meet Quinn MacNichol
Quinn MacNichol did not intend to become a grantmaking professional. As a young person, they had a passion for theater and studied costume design in college. When it came time to start a career, they worked as a fundraiser for social justice organizations, but always felt the pull to return to their roots in the arts. Eventually, Quinn joined a public arts agency serving the greater Portland area, where they had the opportunity to manage grant programs with a focus on creating accessible and efficient experiences for grant applicants.
“There was no intentionality around getting into grantmaking,” says Quinn, explaining how, in their previous role, they wore many hats, from grants manager to program associate. “But as I reflect on it, I realize grants management was my happy spot. It’s a good balance between people time and spreadsheet time. I get to engage with grant recipients, talk people through technical issues, and also have quiet, introvert work time for data and administrative projects.”
Quinn recently joined Group Health Foundation as our grants manager. They are responsible for administration and management of the foundation’s grantmaking processes, which includes everything from optimizing databases to building and prioritizing accessibility and the functionality of grantee-centric systems.
For Quinn, the opportunity to work at an impact-driven organization—with an emergent culture that they can help shape—was something they couldn’t pass up. Coming from organizations with ingrained work cultures, Quinn is perhaps most excited by the Foundation’s commitment to reflecting lived experiences of Washington’s communities.
“It’s amazing to see a philanthropy that has decided, up front, that they want to build a culture that’s reflective,” says Quinn. “Because even more than just the values, being self-reflective matters. So often culture is built passively and unintentionally. The act of intentionally building culture and being iterative is a profound step forward.”
In the coming months, Quinn will be taking on the vital task of standardizing and operationalizing grants processes that are flexible enough to adapt to accessibility needs in order to meet grant recipients where they are.
“It’s really satisfying to make something possible for somebody who might not otherwise be able to apply or succeed in the process,” Quinn says. “Frequently the barrier isn’t that an organization doesn’t have a good idea, it’s that there’s something between them and submitting the application. Grants management is not the most glamorous part of philanthropy, but effective grants management is what allows program staff to focus on relationships and our partners to focus on their work in the community.”
Born and raised in Portland, Quinn earned a BA in theater and politics from Whitman College. They look forward to making a new home in the Puget Sound area and discovering what the region’s vibrant arts scene has to offer.