Interview with Samantha Popejoy – Grant Writer for the Army Medical Department Museum Foundation
Q1: Welcome to your new position with the Foundation! A Grant Writer is something we have not had before on our staff. Tell us how you came to be the first person to hold this job.
I’m excited to be a part of the AMEDD Museum Foundation and I can’t wait to get started as the Grant Writer/Specialist. So, I basically stumbled into grant writing. I started as the foundation/museum intern as a requirement for my Masters program at Texas Tech University. During my internship, my favorite parts were writing. That included creating educational pamphlets, conference brochures, interpretive panels, etc. So when the Foundation offered me a position as their grant writer, I gladly accepted. Grant writing is a new outlet of writing that I’m very interested in pursuing. It’s an interesting combination between intellectual design and persuasion.
Q2: Tell us about the duties and expectations of this job.
So my duties and expectations are very similar to other grant writers. Right now, I have several priorities. My major priority is finding and securing grants for our Capital Campaign for the Modernization for the AMEDD Museum. At the moment, we are trying to raise and secure funds for Phase 1. Phase 1 is focused on relocating the AMEDD Museum entrance off Post, so everyone can easily come to the AMEDD Museum. Since we are located on Fort Sam, everyone who does not have a military ID, a veteran’s card, and/or an employee card has to go to a visitor center plus undergo a background check. The visitor center can take between 30 minutes to over an hour. So you can see how many potential visitors are lost due to instillation requirements.
That is my main priority. I have other smaller priorities or projects that I’m involved in. One of my favorites is the AMEDD Museum Little Free Library (LFL): History, Heritage, and Health on the Go. I completed a degree in Museum Science and my sub-concentration was in literacy education and acquisition. I firmly believe that a thriving society or community has the tools to analyze and interpret the world around them. I think Little Free Libraries are one small way that we can encourage our communities. The principle behind this community initiative is Take a Book, Leave a Book. So like other LFLs, ours is free and everyone can participate. Its located in our museum and it correlates a lot with our exhibits’ themes and messages. Other small tasks include outreach events, working in the front office, assisting museum visitors and staff, etc.
Q3: What are some of the challenges you foresee and what are your plans to overcome these?
The major challenge I see is one of the main reasons why I was brought on board. The Capital Campaign’s goals are necessary but also ambitious. We are hoping to raise around 5.4 million dollars for the whole project. Currently, we are focusing on Phase 1. Phase 1 is centered on increasing public accessibility. Other phases include exhibit updates and modernization, artifact acquisition, etc.
A second challenge is our upcoming visit with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Currently, the AMEDD Museum is going through a re-accreditation process and it is very intense. AAM is the organization here in the US that sets a lot of professional standards and best practices. However, that doesn’t mean any museum not accredited with AAM is necessarily bad. Only 3% of museums here in the US are accredited. The process requires a lot of time, money, manpower, and other resources. So I see my job is to help the Museum in any way that I can. That is the job of the AMEDD Museum Foundation, to support our communities and the AMEDD Museum.
Q4: What has been your favorite thing about working at the Museum and with the Foundation?
There’s a lot of things that I enjoy but I would have to say several of my coworkers and the overall mission of our organizations. This organization has some inspirational people here and I’ve learned a lot from them. It’s really nice to be surrounded by people who have great ideas, experience, and vision. It helps make my job much easier and enjoyable. My job as a grant writer is to make the AMEDD Museum Foundation a community partner. I firmly believe by writing these grants and meeting all these community members helps me see how we can help our San Antonio community. But it also shows me how the Foundation can improve and which grants will actually benefit the Foundation plus the community. I get to learn from people, history, archives, books, and artifacts daily.
Q5: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’m not sure! I hope to become a successful professional in the museum & nonprofit world. I’m trying to be as open as I possibly can. You never know what is going to happen. But I do hope that I can be a major player in forming partnerships between communities, schools, museums, archives, and other nonprofits. I firmly believe that by providing a positive learning environment, our communities can thrive.