Meet WSW’s Grants Services Team

Overview WSW Grant Services

Winning Strategies Washington (WSW) offers a suite of competitive grant services that can complement your in-house grant and development staff’s efforts. Highlights of these services include:

  • Researching, identifying and tracking all available federal and private funding opportunities that match our clients’ priorities and needs. As an initial first step with new clients, many times we conduct a Landscape Assessment of competitive opportunities available to support a client’s identified priority projects and needs;
  • Reviewing all current and pending regulations and legislation, including an analysis of the various federal appropriations bills, which fund federal competitive grant programs, to provide timely guidance to our clients regarding federal funding priorities;
  • Identifying funding opportunities provided by private foundations and corporations through searching the Foundation Center’s database, the world’s leading sources of information on philanthropy fundraising and grants programs, and by regularly monitoring private funding announcements;
  • Assisting with the development, preparation, writing and editing of proposals.  Many times, we put together an application requirements list of all information that will need to be included in a proposal.  Our clients then pull relevant information and we write/edit the proposal and complete the application package.  Alternatively, we can be an outside reviewer and help in the editing of proposals to ensure the proposal is written in a clear and concise way and to make sure all pieces of a successful application are included;
  • Providing a timeline and schedule to ensure grant proposals are submitted on time with complete and compelling information;
  • Arranging meetings or calls for our clients with relevant officials at the federal departments and agencies to discuss proposed project(s) or to ask specific questions regarding a funding opportunity and conducting follow-up as appropriate;
  • Drafting letters of inquiry and scheduling introductory calls or meetings with the appropriate staff at targeted foundations and corporations;
  • Securing the appropriate congressional letters of support for grant applications.  While all grants are peer-reviewed, appropriate expressions of Member interest demonstrate that the your submission enjoys broad-based support;
  • Supplying ongoing Grants Alerts on funding opportunities of potential interest;
  • Providing a G-News update regarding the latest news from Washington on current and emerging competitive grant opportunities.  As part of the G-News service, WSW regularly monitors requests for proposals, grant notices and other communications issued by the broad array of federal departments and agencies;
  • Conducting a “Peer and Aspiration” analysis to better understand where other similar institutions are enjoying success in this regard; and
  • Hosting grant workshops or webinars for clients interested in learning more about available federal funding and the grant process.

WSW Grants Team

Laura Lay, Principal and Director of Grants

Laura Lay has been part of the WSW team since 2002.  As Principal and Director of Grants, Laura began building the firm’s competitive grants practice from scratch in 2006.  Laura has knocked directly on the doors and formed solid relationships with program managers at countless federal departments and agencies that administer competitive grants, providing a unique resource to WSW grants clients.  As our Director, Laura works extensively with our institutions of higher education, counties and municipalities, hospitals and healthcare systems, museums and nonprofits, to find grants programs that meet their needs and in tackling the actual writing, editing and submitting of proposals. The result of her work has been millions of dollars in funding for WSW Grants clients.  Laura is an active member of the Grants Professionals Association, the premier membership organization of grant professionals, and their National Capital Area Chapter.

Rob Zucker, Partner

Rob Zucker has been with the firm since 2003, after having served in senior staff positions on Capitol Hill.  He specializes in working with clients on tracking each step of the budget and appropriations process to identify and create opportunities for partnerships with the federal government.  Rob is WSW’s undisputed commander of facts, and he excels at finding missing pieces or inconsistencies in grant narratives to help ensure clients are putting forward the strongest proposals possible.

Chelsey Penrod Hickman, Principal

Chelsey Penrod Hickman brings a unique combination of experience to the WSW Grants Team.  Chelsey worked on Capitol Hill for over 10 years, in both the House and the Senate, but she is also a trained technical writer with a degree in technical writing from Brigham Young University.  Chelsey assists WSW grants clients in writing and articulating a clear and concise plan proposal that effectively achieves their goals.

Charla Penn McManus, Principal

An 11-year Capitol Hill veteran, Charla Penn McManus is a key resource for WSW’s healthcare clients, including hospitals, healthcare systems, and non-profits.  Charla has extensive experience working on health care policy, and has developed a keen understanding of the complexities facing entities that participate in the health care system.  Charla helps ensure our healthcare clients are aware of all potential funding opportunities and is well positioned with relevant Executive Branch agencies to achieve their objectives.

Michael Merola, Founding Partner

Michael Merola spent several years working in the U.S. Senate, developing an expertise in a wide array of funding issues from transportation to health care and honing his writing skills to respond to the demands of an array of federal agencies and programs.  When Mike founded the firm 15 years ago, he had a clear vision: become an antidote to the operators in Washington who over-promise and under-deliver.  He carries that mantra over to his work for WSW’s grants clients, going above and beyond for each and every one.

Donna Mullins, Managing Partner

With a degree in English literature and drama and nearly two decades of service on Capitol Hill, Donna Mullins has become a master storyteller in the language of Washington, DC.  Donna knows how to translate real world ideas into something that can succeed in Washington.  Donna helps WSW grants clients articulate their story in a unique and compelling way, helping them achieve an application that stands out among the competition.