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Lisa Stoffer

Smith Staff

Office of Alumnae Relations and Development

Director of Grants and Sponsored Research

How long have you worked at Smith?
Since mid-February of 2022. I'd done similar work to combine institutional grants work (sometimes called corporate and foundation relations) with sponsored research (sometimes known as faculty grants) at Amherst College. I was excited to have a chance to work at a college that is dedicated to cultivating women leaders, especially one that has both engineering and graduate programs.

How would you describe what you do here at Smith?
Together with my team, I help Smith's leadership develop strategies for seeking funding from institutional sources—foundations, companies and government agencies—for college priorities. I also help support faculty in their efforts to seek outside funding for research and teaching. A big part of faculty grant support is providing resources, tools and clear procedures to make the complex task of preparing and submitting a proposal a bit more transparent, and when possible, easier.

Please share something you are proud of about the impact of your work at the college.
I am proud of something that remains a work in progress: The Grants and Sponsored Research team has long been respected for its technical expertise around grants but sometimes has been less visible in the development of longer-term funding strategies. We are working with the Office of the Provost and the directors of the libraries, museum and various centers on campus to think about ways grants, which tend to be restricted and time-limited, can set the stage for longer-term funding.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
I love the botanic gardens and the path around Paradise Pond. During the lockdown stage of the pandemic, before I even worked at Smith, those places were a refuge for me, places where I could safely spend time outside. They are also where I discovered my love of birding. It's amazing how many different songbirds and water birds make their homes in and around the pond!

How has your background prepared you for your current job at Smith?
I started my career at two international nonprofit organizations in Washington, D.C. We helped deliver training and technical support to students, scholars, public policy professionals, journalists and others in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe. Both organizations were almost entirely funded by grants, primarily from the United States government, but also from major foundations and corporations. Proposal development was a central part of our daily work. When I moved to western Massachusetts in the late 1990s, I found that the writing, editing and strategic skills I'd gained at those NGOs translated well to higher education.

When you’re not working or traveling for Smith, what are you most likely to be found doing?
Increasingly, I'm outside, walking, hiking, and whenever possible, in a kayak or sailboat.

What are you reading/watching/digging into these days?
I just saw the film Nope and found it to be really amazing and thought-provoking. It's a film that defies genres and goes places you'd never predict. Plus, the cinematography is great. I'm also reading Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. The writing is beautiful and it’s a compelling story.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I love to travel and will go to France later this year, but I've got other places on the list of destinations I'd love to see: Spain, Portugal, Japan and Peru. I am fascinated by old—ancient, really—art and architecture.

What’s a project you are passionate about?
I'm very excited about all the ways Smith is advancing experiential education, in many different forms, and the way the college is connecting academic learning and the exploration of career pathways. These are approaches that will help keep the liberal arts fresh while meeting the concerns of students and their families in a time of turbulent change.

What’s a fun fact about you?
I was a visiting student at Smith for one semester back in the ’80s. I took my all-time favorite course here: Books About Books with Professor Ann Jones.

Who would you most like to have dinner with?
Julia Child or José Andrés—especially if they cook!

About Lisa

Pronouns: she/her