BAYSIDE WITH STEPHANY HESSLER:
Meet Stephany, Save The Bay’s grants & foundations manager!
Why and when did you get involved with Save The Bay? I am not a native Rhode Islander. When I moved here from the midwest, one of the things that first struck me was how vast, beautiful, and accessible Narragansett Bay was. When the opportunity came, I applied for a position at the organization and in 2006 started as the Volunteer & Internship Manager. I supported the organization’s volunteer efforts until 2013; but my departure was short-lived. I returned to Save The Bay as the Grants & Foundations Manager in 2015 and have been supporting the fundraising efforts of the organization ever since.
What is your favorite place/spot on Narragansett Bay?
I’m not a big beach person in the summer (I fry in the sun!), so I love the little off-the-beaten-path places that I can walk, sit and listen to the waves crash, and just be peaceful – year round. I adore Point Judith/Camp Cronin Fishing Area, Mackerel Cove, and Fort Wetherill State Park. Our first house in Rhode Island was in Warwick, and we had a little access point at the end of our street. In the 13 years we lived there, that little stretch of coastline was a cherished space!
What’s a favorite project you’ve worked on, or highlight from your Save The Bay experience thus far?
As Volunteer Manager, one of my favorite projects was starting the cleanup leader program – a program that has continued to flourish and grow and allow the organization to have a bigger impact on Narragansett Bay and its watershed.
In my current role, receiving the organization’s first federal grant under my leadership was pretty amazing. It also helped me learn the crazy craft that IS federal grants and federal grants administration – and oddly I love it! I’m also really excited that our team was able to secure a federal grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services for the first time to upgrade our Exploration Center & Aquarium in Newport.
What are you excited to be working on right now?
While I’m really excited to help the organization kick off work on a couple of large federal and private grants we received for 2020-2021, I am really energized by the creativity, dedication, and commitment of our staff during these challenging and ever-changing times. Getting to help secure funding for new and innovative ways to do our work and deliver our programs is forcing me to be creative, think outside the box, and reach out to new sources of funding for the organization.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to cook. I love theater. I love to laugh. I love to be creative. That means you’ll often find my husband and I at local theaters catching performances and comedians, cooking at Ronald McDonald House once a month with our friends, or taking an art class at a local studio or gallery. But honestly, we’re really home-bodies and can most often be found binging shows, reading, gardening, snuggling our two cats, and playing board games on weekends. My husband and I also LOVE to travel. When we can both get away for long stretches, we like to take road trips and cruises, exploring new or favorite destinations.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I play piano, and used to play clarinet and flute. I once had aspirations to major in music and travel the world playing in orchestra pits for Broadway shows. It is still one of my regrets that I didn’t pursue that route in life. What a different life it would be!
How do you enjoy the Bay?
Despite working along the Bay, I seldom find time to enjoy and recreate on and around the Bay. When the weather allows, I try to walk along the coast each day at the Bay Center. And whenever I have a meeting off-site, if I’m near a great coastal access area or beach, I try to give myself an extra 10-20 minutes to pop there before or after to just sit and listen to the waves crash or walk along the coast. And, I won’t lie – there’s nothing better than hitting up a good Bay-side restaurant or bar for cocktails with friends.
Last book you read? Last Netflix series you binged?
Show: Dead to Me on Netflix and Making the Cut on Amazon
Book: A Man Called Ove and The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well