Hello, I am Colleen McNatt Engelbrecht, a grant writer and freelancer. In 2017, I “dropped out” of corporate life and pivoted to a new career as a grants professional. This new vocation blends my writing and journalism school training along with decades of experience in the financial services industry. My largest grant award to date is $200,000 (private foundation) and $197,500 (federal). In my last corporate role, I shared responsibility for over $73M in the branch. I hold fiscal accountability very seriously and treat other people’s money like my own.

This summer I reached another milestone as a parent. My youngest child graduated from high school. As a former editor of San Diego Parent magazine and a working mother of four, I understand the challenges and choices families are facing with raising kids. My articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the San Diego Union Tribune and The Southern Cross.

I landed my first internship at The Burbank Leader, which back then, was a standalone independent newspaper. My first laptop was a Tandy computer and I would send my articles through a modem on a long gray telephone cord. I would still write stories and save them on a floppy disc, which would often melt on my dashboard in the Southern California sun. My college stint at The Daily Titan offered a window into the real workplace culture of a newsroom. Back then, most of the editors were male and the Sports department was entirely so.

Human interest stories are by far my favorite genre, but I have covered everything from airplane crashes to cranky planning board meetings. I still employ my J-school training skills with intent listening, those nagging follow-up questions and my trusted reporter notebook.

Writing and helping others is my calling. Blending these skills led me to a certificate program at UCSD Extension in Fundraising and Development. I am half-way through the program now. I also serve as the Membership Chair of the Grant Professionals Association, San Diego County Chapter.