Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Mary Eileen Fouratt
By Janet Mazur Cavano
Where do you live? Asbury Park. My husband and I moved from Shrewsbury two and a half years ago when we were seeking someplace walkable and fun.
What is your occupation?
I’m a program officer for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Previously, I was the executive director of Monmouth Arts.
How did you discover Impact 100 JC?
My first connection was as an applicant when I served on Monmouth Arts. My board chair asked if I could go to an information meeting at 8 a.m. the next day, and right off the bat, I was really impressed with Impact’s presentation! I thought, these people really know how to give out grants! The whole process was crystal clear. I knew it was a long shot, yet it almost didn’t matter because we were getting in front of all these women who are generous and wanted to know all about us!
When did you actually join and how involved have you been?
I joined the next year and have served on two Focus Area Committees (FAC), Environment, Parks and Recreation, and Health and Wellness. One of the nice things is you can do as much or as little as you want and no one guilts you about it! When you have life stuff going on and need to step back, it’s ok.
What inspires you about the organization?
In the non-profit world, you have to work very hard to get small grants. A huge grant like Impact 100’s can really change the trajectory of an organization and give you the opportunity to make a leap in a way you could never do with a bunch of small grants. It’s a way for organizations to dream big and plan strategically, that “blue sky” kind of thinking, like, “if you had a substantial grant, what would you do?”
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Learning more about what’s going on in the community and seeing where the grant can have the most impact. It’s also fun to meet other people — everyone comes from a different direction, yet they’re all interesting and committed women.
What would you tell a woman who is considering joining Impact 100?
Just do it! Try it for one year and do as much or as little as you can and you’ll be hooked. Not that you’re not still giving or contributing to other organizations, but with Impact 100 you’re bringing the power of the entire group to together. I remember my first meeting. I was so surprised because I thought I knew pretty much everyone who gave to the arts in Monmouth yet I didn’t recognize a single person! I wondered, who are all these women and where did they come from? Impact taps into women who had not been as visible.
What’s the best life advice you ever received?
When I was graduating from college (Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts) and panicked because I didn’t have a job, my dad said, “Don’t worry — you’re going to do six or seven things in your lifetime!” He was right — I’ve either worked for museums or arts organizations my whole career.
What’s the most recent book you’ve read?
I listen to a lot of books in the car. The latest one was “The Testaments,” Margaret Atwood’s follow up to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Tell us something about you that not many people know, a fun fact.
My husband Bob and I like to ride rail trails — bike paths built on old railroad trails. The closest one is Edgar Felix Memorial Bikeway in Manasquan It’s a short one, but there are others all over the country. One of our goals is to ride The Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. We’d have to break it up and probably have to wait until we are retired to do it. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is working to create more of these trails and connect them. They’re easier for me because you’re not out on the road and there’s little incline — so it’s pretty safe.