May 28, 2008

UPDATE: City hires Debbi Embry as its new grant facilitator

UPDATE: Embry's salary will be $58,000 plus standard city benefits. Her salary will be significantly less than the $90,000 originally talked about in the budget for the position.

ORIGINAL POST: The city hired Debbi Embry, former executive director of the Racine YWCA, as its new grant facilitator.

Embry will start in her job , a new position with the city, on June 9. She was one of 43 applicants for the new position, and selected after preliminary interviews with seven candidates and a second round of interviews with three candidates.

“She had a presence about her, spoke with confidence, knowledge base about grants that was impressive,” said City Administrator Ben Hughes, who will supervise Embry as an employee of the mayor’s office.

A key part of Embry’s job will be to work with the city’s 13 departments to secure grants from state, federal and private nonprofit funding sources, Hughes said.

While city department heads have done a good job at securing state and federal dollars, they haven’t done a good job at work with private foundations like the Joyce Foundation or the Ford Foundation, Hughes said.

“The basic reason is our department heads just don’t have the time to do that,” Hughes said about pursuing private grants. “There’s not enough hours in the day.”

In addition to writing grants, Embry also will be responsible for following up with existing grants to make sure the money is being spent effectively, and that proper paperwork is filed for multi-year grants.

Embry will be expected to generate enough revenue to cover her $90,000 salary and benefits, plus additional money to run city government, Hughes said.

Examples of areas where new grant money may be available include infant mortality programs, park maintenance and the city’s efforts to clean up the Root River and its public beaches.

Embry was removed as head of the YWCA on Dec. 5 as part of sweeping changes to the organization, including the sale of its building on College Avenue.

Embry is the daughter of legendary NBA star Wayne Embry of the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.


  1. According to the median wage for this position is half that amount...

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. $90,000 PLUS Benefits!
    She must have some real talent.

  4. So now we have a grant writer! Go Racine
    Yes she is worth a police offer right, not like Racine has issues with Gangs or shootings.
    Not like perhaps our Mayor should be working with community leaders on stopping Thugs from controlling the streets, unsted of looking good for our masters at J-Wax.
    Thank God that we have a grant writer and for that matter A City Adim (another idea brought to us by J Wax) unsted of pesky Police officers or Firemen (we are short there too Racine)
    And letys talk to the workers at the formor YWCA about how that place was run under her leadership

  5. Embry was removed as head of the YWCA on Dec. 5 as part of sweeping changes to the organization, including the sale of its building on College Avenue.

    So what happened with that?

  6. Just in case you missed this -

    "Embry will be expected to generate enough revenue to cover her $90,000 salary and benefits, plus additional money to run city government"

    She is expected to draw money from outside sources to cover the cost of her position AND get more money for other programs and positions within city government. What other position can say that they literally pay for themselves? Without an experienced grant writer, thousands of dollars could be lost if grants are not sought out and applied for.

  7. “She had a presence about her, spoke with confidence, knowledge base about grants that was impressive,” said City Administrator Ben Hughes, who will supervise Embry as an employee of the mayor’s office.

    Great on the confidence and knowledge base about grants! But of the 43 applicants did she have the most grant writing experience? OK, I'll cut to the chase:

    1. How many grants has she written in the past five years? Has she written ANY grants?

    2. How many grants has she written that were FUNDED in the past five years?

  8. Thanks anon 8:10 - "expected" is the operative in all of this. Does she have a one year contract that stipulates that she must obtain her salary through soft money after that year? Will she be let go if she doesn't obtain her salary? Will the "goal" simply be to get enough money to pay her salary (kind of like charging money at a toll booth with the goal of paying the toll-takers' salaries)?

  9. Did the Mayor and Mr. Hughes even bother to check her references at the YWCA? She was hired there because she was an outstanding fundraiser and did not produce - hence, she was terminated.

    While she may interview well, she does not have substance behind her to generate the grant-related revenues, in my opinion.

    And there are other fundraisers in the public/non-profit sector that would love to have a $90K salary plus city benes.

    I hope that she can deliver for the city. And someone should be watching to see just how much new grant money comes in the door!

  10. Unless she lands a grant which specifically covers her salary, she cannot "generate enough revenue to cover her $90,000 salary and benefits." Her salary (which is more like $180,000 with bennies) will be paid for by the taxpayers of Racine. She may obtain grants worth more than $180,000, but the gist of the argument will be over what those grants fund. Funding for more "public" projects that benefit only specific, private groups like DRC should not be sought at taxpayer's expense. She should concentrate on the areas of unemployment, education, and crime in Racine, but I suspect that we'll just see more artsy amd feel-good projects result from this, if anything.

  11. How long is her contract for?

    Is there a probation period?

    What criteria will be used and when to determine if she should remain in this position?

  12. Perhaps we should call the Mayor and tell him what we think.

  13. I can't wait to see "Anonymous" on the ballot for Mayor. Will you run on a platform of empty ideas or just flat out complaining.

    Grant writers play a very large role in any successful organization. And perhaps if any of you knew a thing about federal and state grants you would realize that the position can indeed pay for itself with huge returns to the city.

  14. I guess the big question is, will this position actually bring in enough dollars to make it worthwhile? I'm sure it is possible, but will it happen? Will anyone be monitoring this to make sure it does? If this position does not prove itself worthy, will the position be eliminated? Is that something that should be written into the job description?

  15. Go figure, She's a female and she's Black, god the mayor has made himself look good right?? LOL

  16. As a matter of fact anon 12:09 I know quite a bit about state and federal grants - most recently I wrote and was awarded a $100,000 SBIR from NSF last fall (you might have to Google both of those but you'll learn something) for one of my companies. The funny thing is that I'm sure my resume wouldn't have even warranted a phone interview in light of Embry's "speaking with presence" and "knowledge base about grants".

    Again, how many grants has SHE written in the past five years and how many were funded. I won't even sweat the details on the $ amounts.

  17. A good grant writer is like gold. A bad grant writer is like, well, guess. She has to produce. She HAS to produce.

    There are many outstanding grant writers who bring in millions for their organization. It's a talent.

    I haven't seen anything from her to even THINK of her as a grant writer. Nothing. So, the proof will be if she can produce. This is one of those jobs where time will tell.

  18. Adding to my anon 2:34 comments, I write grants as part of a full-time job with many other responsibilities - I don't have a full-time job "facilitating" grants.

  19. The money could have been better spent on.... say maybe a new cop?

  20. Once again I see that the City of Racine is more interested and flash then anything else. A grant facilitator when this City is short Police and Fire is insane.
    A Mayor who is off to Italy when we have Thugs running amok shooting up the City, is nuts.

    We the public are to blame too since we will blog but do little else. I think a protest at City Hall to great the Mayor when he comes back would get our anger across

  21. I love how you people always just assume the worst because government is involved. Get off your butts and accomplish something. No one reads these blogs.

  22. Anon 7:54

    seems you do.

  23. The fact that there are so many "grant getters" in local government may mean that there is too much pork in the trough. Where does the pork come from?
    Rather than giving it to the Feds, why not just give it to the local municipality directly?

  24. Stu -

    stick to worrying about Sturtevant and its indoor Pot farms.

  25. She was hired as a grant FACILITATOR (whatever that is) NOT a grant writer. This is how they justified passing over a number of people with actual track records of writing successful grants to hire her.

  26. Folks in the non-profit world here in Racine were amazed, shocked, stunned etc. to see that the the "great city of Racine" has hired a grant writer who failed at this very task while at the YWCA.

    By the way, it is possible to run a non-profit agency serving children and adults in our community for less than her salary and benefits. In addition, we already have a highly paid "grant-writer" for our County at the Human Services Department.

    Wonders never cease

  27. I see some of Becker "yes men" is up on the blogs to say this is a good idea. It is not the best use of taxpayers money. The county has a grant writer. Why the city did not make an effort to share cost with Mac. for the county writer.
    I feel it's more to this one than meet the eye.
    Deep in the back of my head I think she's being groomed to take over on of the centers for Mr. Mayor.

  28. WOW! Such protest! Did we see this protest when a grant writer was hired for the County? Are you all angry because she is an African American woman? Are you upset becasue you or one of your friends did not get the job? Or better yet, did you lose your job because of downsizing at the YWCA?Do you all even know what you are talking about?
    You talk about what she did not do at the YWCA. Ms. Embry inheritred a mess. But I do not see you all talking about the prior CEO who also struggled to keep the YWCA out of the red. Ms. Embry had to make some tough decisions that did not make people happy, but it is what had to be done to keep the YWCA afloat. Ms. Embry wrote grants and brought in several thousands of dollars and programs that spoke to the mission of the "NATIONAL YWCA" -"Ëmpowering Women and Eliminating Racism". Ms. Embry took on this challenge knowing that this community only saw the YWCA as a building for swim and gym and not as the mission driven organization that it is. Swim and gym brought no money to the "Y". It cost the Y money. You can ask ANY current board member what a difficult job Ms. Embry had managing the YWCA with the limited resources and how they see the struggles she faced as they try to keep the Y in exsistence now. Ms Embry will do well in this position and will bring in funding for the City and be an intrigue role player in the City's further development. She has been the Executive Director of the Urban League where she has received private and public funding. She is currently working in Milwaukee for a local college in corporate and foundation relations. So please stop complaining, welcome her back to our community and give her a chance as she is able.
    By the way, she is NOT interested in taking over one of the community centers.

  29. Typical Lumpy. Looking for conspiracies where there are none. Instead of being so negative, why dont you do something positive. Get involved in our community and actually show up for meetings. Be straight with people instead of being two faced. Maybe, just maybe you would earn the respect that you carve so badly but are unable to get because nobody trusts you.

  30. I can almost guarantee that her self-importance and lack of skill will lead to her accomplishing NOTHING sustainable or significant for the City.

  31. Will the Becker fallout and the Tingle case going to court find interesting information with Ms. Embry? My thought yes!