Fairmount InSights

Molly Botnick, Associate, is dedicated to helping nonprofits pursue social justice and to assist them in serving their communities more effectively. With a background in social work and direct service, she brings a ground-level perspective of the issues facing underserved Philadelphians to Fairmount Ventures. Molly earned her B.A. in International Studies at Kenyon College.

Molly Botnick

FV: After graduating from Kenyon College, you gained both direct service and social work experience at City Year and Congreso de Latinos Unidos—how do you apply your takeaways from those roles to your work at Fairmount?

MB: After graduating from Kenyon College I felt that it was really important for me to work in direct service to learn from, and work with, different communities in order to get to know Philadelphia from a different perspective than my own. I always intended to work in the non-profit world but experienced that it can sometimes be a prescriptive process. While working in case management and direct service I learned that the best experts on any given issue are the people utilizing the services or experiencing the problem. Sometimes we forget to stop and listen. The organizing principles to my work (and life) are to listen to others, and to utilize the tools and talents at my disposal to amplify the voices of those who often go unheard. Since we are supporting organizations who, in turn, directly serve the community, our work at Fairmount takes a more indirect approach. However, I still apply these principles to my work every day as we help to solve the issues facing Philadelphia, by working with our clients to ensure that planning processes reflect community voices and that fundraising aligns with mission and community needs.

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

MB: A typical day for me at Fairmount is comprised of internal meetings with my project team, research and grant writing at my desk, and organizing and attending client meetings. Fairmount’s diverse portfolio of clients means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to an issue, so we spend a lot of time brainstorming, discussing, refining…and discussing again. Did I mention discussing? Since each client needs an individualized approach, time management and organization skills are key to successfully balancing multiple clients at once.

Collaboration with our internal teams is essential and also one of my favorite parts about working at Fairmount—everyone is thoughtful, creative, and cares deeply about their work. It’s a great feeling to finish a project and reflect on how it evolved, what proved to be true, and what needed to be changed or adapted along the way.

FV: You’ve mentioned having a deep passion for engaging in dialogue about the challenges that we face as a society—what’s it like to have the opportunity to work with a number of clients who address those issues head-on?

MB: The nature of our work really gives us a “bird’s eye view” of what is happening in the city and a sense of what Philadelphia might look like in 10-15 years. It is a pleasure and privilege to support incredible organizations that are working to make Philadelphia a more equitable, tolerant, and culturally rich community—thinking about all the innovative and thoughtful work that is going on here right now makes me hopeful.

FV: What’s one of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on so far?

MB: When I started at Fairmount a year and a half ago, I was assigned to a team to write grants on behalf of Episcopal Community Services (ECS). The organization has gone through a tremendous change over the last year and recently adopted a new strategic direction that focuses on long-term, intensive coaching geared toward economic mobility. This innovative approach to service delivery is really exciting and watching a large organization adeptly pivot their mission and service delivery in order to respond to the needs of their community has been really inspiring. Fairmount’s role with ECS has been to help them craft their new case for support and find new sources of funding for this unique approach. ECS so clearly takes their responsibility to provide high quality services seriously and it is a pleasure to support them in seeking the financial resources to make their vision a reality.

FV: What are some of your favorite things about Philadelphia?

MB: This is not a secret by any means, but the food scene here in Philadelphia is pretty amazing, and super fun to explore, and it is a great way to support local businesses here in Philly!

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