Q&A with Melissa Grumhaus

Melissa Grumhaus is the Conservancy’s new Director of Philanthropy in Colorado. While this is a new position for the Boulder resident, she’s worked in a variety of philanthropy roles for the Conservancy over the course of 18 years including assistant, writer, fundraiser, and major gifts officer. sat down with Melissa to find out what inspires her and what keeps her coming back.
“When you get outside and spend time connecting to nature, you value it and all that it does for people.”

-Melissa Grumhaus,
The Nature Conservancy in Colorado's Director of Philanthropy

What’s the best part of your job?

Melissa Grumhaus:

One of my favorite things about this job is the people. I get to work with interesting people who share the same values. I have the privilege of helping people realize their philanthropic goals. I see myself as a bridge connecting people and conservation. Their support protects iconic and important places for generations to come. It’s very humbling.

While raising a family (with 3 boys) you’ve worked at the Conservancy on and off over the course of 18 years. What are some of the highlights of your career so far?

Melissa Grumhaus:

I helped the chapter complete the Heart of the West Campaign in 2003, which was the first campaign that focused on statewide conservation rather than a single project or place. It was a pivotal time for the chapter.

I’m also very proud of a global project I helped secure funding for in Chile: the Valdivian Coastal Reserve. It’s a temperate forest meaning it has four seasons and a moderate climate. Through the years, the Conservancy and its partners have protected 150,000 acres of the Reserve, developed a stunning location for locals and tourists to visit and supporting local economies while conserving this awe-inspiring place.

You’ve said this is an exciting time to be part of the conservation movement. What do you mean by that?

Melissa Grumhaus:

At one time, we focused on protecting a preserve here and a river there. Now, we’re tackling whole systems such as the Colorado River Basin and the grasslands of Eastern Colorado. We are working at a larger scale than ever before and it is having an enormous impact for nature and people. The Conservancy’s non-partisan, science-based approach makes it possible to bring different groups to the table and focus on solutions.

It’s no secret how much you love the outdoors. What got you hooked?

Melissa Grumhaus:

I spent countless hours on the Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac River when I was a young girl. At the time, I didn’t know the Conservancy was working to protect that amazing place.

My father had a farm in Virginia. I spent a lot of time running around the farm, playing in the pond and riding horses. We also took ski trips to Colorado, and I knew at a young age I was going to live here.

When you get outside and spend time connecting to nature, you value it and all that it does for people. That’s why we get our boys out as much as we can!


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