We’re back with another edition of ‘Get to Know Fairmount Ventures’, a series of short Q+A’s with our team members, showcasing the many passions and personalities behind our firm.
Nicole Meyenberg, Vice President & Partner, enjoys playing multiple roles at the firm to help nonprofits sustain and grow their work. From resource development planning to program design, her strategies are a major factor in the service offerings that Fairmount provides to its clients. Nicole has an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Religious Studies from the Pennsylvania State University, and a Master’s in Urban Education from Temple University.
FV: You’ve enjoyed a number of successful years at Fairmount Ventures—how has the organization, and subsequently, your role, evolved over the course of your tenure?
NM: My role evolved significantly over the past 10 years. I started as a Project Manager (though the title was different then) and now I’m a Partner. I’ve certainly become a more sophisticated thinker and strategist in that time and the nature of Fairmount’s collaborative, solutions-oriented work means each week I know more than I did the week before. This means each new client benefits from everything I’ve learned from my previous clients.
FV: What does a typical day look like for you?
NM: I’m a morning person – I wake up early, push myself hard during my morning workout, and start working when I get on the train at 7AM. It’s not uncommon to have my best ideas during those train rides, so that’s a pretty great way to start the work day. Beyond that every day is a mix – strategy calls with clients, project planning with the Fairmount team, running a small business. And writing, lots of writing.
FV: Throughout the various stages of helping your clients grow and sustain their work, what aspect of your job never fails to excite you?
NM: I’ll answer that question slightly differently and share three moments that I love each and every time:
- Learning about a new client.
- Writing to a prospective donor in the voice of the client’s committee member who knows the prospect.
- Facilitating a messy program design meeting, especially if it involves partners from a few different organizations.
FV: What’s one of the most memorable projects you’ve been involved in, and why?
NM: I have two that are so exceptional – and different from one another – that it’s fair to share both.
President Obama’s Recovery Act established Investing in Innovation which had its inaugural and highly-anticipated funding round in 2010. I worked with Children’s Literacy Initiative to write an application that won them $20M to serve many more teachers in several US cities and prove (or validate, to use the Department of Education’s language) their approach works. Five years later they asked me to review another application to the same funding stream (then known as i3) to take their proven intervention to the next level of scale, which meant establishing hubs in new cities across the nation. They received another $19M to do that. The organization, children in school districts throughout the nation, and the entire field are better off as a result.
There’s a lake in Strawberry Mansion that’s been fenced off for more than 40 years. I’ve helped Philadelphia Outward Bound School and National Audubon Society reach their $18M fundraising goal to build a nature education on that lake. They have an amazing committee – smart, committed, and a lot of fun. The energy behind the project is unique, it feels like a true team effort, and, in the end, Philadelphia will have a phenomenal physical resource that doesn’t exist today.
FV: What are some of your favorite things about the city?
NM: Right now I’m especially struck that there are so many people in and near Philadelphia who will speak their mind and stand up for what’s right.