Sarah Steller

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BD Strategy & Process Improvement | Proposal Management | Economic Development
About Sarah
Short Bio
I have more than 10 years of experience in business development and economic growth. As a consultant, I'm currently assisting international development organizations with proposal management and writing, strategic pipeline development, recruitment of key personnel, and improving their BD systems and tools. I'm also developing a 5-year comprehensive economic development strategy for West Central Indiana and facilitating a regional housing study and action plan to address issues with housing availability and affordability. I'm well-versed in topics related to local economic development, entrepreneurship, and urban planning, and earned a master's in urban and regional planning from Virginia Tech.

Technical Expertise
Economic Growth and Trade

Donor Expertise
USAID USAID/OTI USAID/Food For Peace US Department of State FCDO Other (not listed above)

Regional Expertise
Africa Europe and Eurasia Middle East and North Africa

Roles & Skills
Technical Writer Recruiter Proposal Manager Proposal Reviewer Proposal Coordinator Local Recruiter Other Section Writer

Writing Recruitment Business Development Economic Development Strategy Process Improvement Project Management Grants

04/2022 - Now
Independent Consultant
Short Description
Offering services in business development strategy, proposal management, grant writing, and economic development.

10/2011 - 08/2015
Manager, Business Development
Chemonics International
Short Description
I held multiple positions during my time at Chemonics, first as a project management associate for the USAID-funded Egypt's Competitiveness Program, and then on the Middle East Business Development team. I tracked new business opportunities throughout the Middle East and North Africa and contributed to Chemonics' growth by coordinating proposal teams, providing research, recruiting personnel and partners, preparing cost proposals, and writing sections of technical proposals. On behalf of the BD team, I coordinated resources and liaised with consultants and organizational partners and helped to build the capacity of the Middle East division by developing training materials, matching staff to proposal efforts, and mentoring new staff. I frequently traveled to the field (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco) to network with partners and consultants and to conduct research for upcoming proposals. For example, I led on-the-ground research and wrote the winning technical proposal for a $4 million USAID-funded program in Morocco designed to assess and improve early grade reading skills. I also spent approximately 3 months in Egypt in 2014-2015 to help maintain Chemonics' presence in country, maintaining and building new relationships.
Projects: USAID - Egypt's Competitiveness Program - project management, work planning field assignment. USAID - Lebanon Water Infrastructure Support and Enhancement - short-term field assignment to train office manager and assist with recruitment surge. Proposals include, but are not limited to (all USAID-funded): Morocco Reading for Success Small-Scale Experimentation - technical writer and g-tripper (won). Egypt Workforce Improvement and Skills Enhancement (WISE) and Strengthening Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Support (SEED) - g-tripper and local recruit mentor. Jordan Workforce Development Project - g-tripper. Egypt Agriculture - capture coordinator and g-tripper. Mozambique Strengthening Agribusinesses and Fostering Rural Alimentation (SAFRA) - proposal coordinator. Libya Transition Initiative II - proposal coordinator (won). Kosovo Property Rights Program - proposal coordinator. Evaluation, Research and Communication (ERC) project - proposal coordinator. Egypt Strengthening Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Support (SEED) - proposal coordinator (final 2 weeks). Colombia Free Trade Implementation Activity - kickoff proposal coordinator (first 1.5 weeks). Jordan Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism (BEST) - kickoff proposal coordinator (first 1.5 weeks, won). Jordan Rule of Law and Public Accountability Strengthening (ROLPAS) - kickoff proposal coordinator (first 1.5 weeks). Lebanon Water Infrastructure Support and Enhancement - past performance writer (won). Mozambique Coastal City Adaptation Project - corporate capabilities writer (won). Pakistan Punjab Enabling Environment Project (PEEP) - personnel section writer (won). Water and Development IDIQ (WADI) IDIQ - personnel section writer and STTA recruiter (competitive range). Egypt FORECAST - Training in a New Egypt - local recruiter. South Sudan Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Program - local recruiter. Kenya Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands – Accelerated Growth (REGAL-AG) - expatriate recruiter. Georgia Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production - cost preparer. Jordan Fiscal Reform Project - subcontractor liaison. Plus numerous other proposals in the Middle East as a mentor, CV writer, or in providing coordination support and guidance on best practices.

02/2016 - 07/2016
International Economic Development Council
Short Description
As part of a U.S. Economic Development Administration-funded program, I collected and analyzed data and conducted interviews on the coal industry and the effect of its decline on coal-dependent communities. I wrote portions of a needs assessment for communities in Appalachia to determine what training or mentoring IEDC should provide on local economic development and diversification. I also contributed research and case studies for IEDC research products on inclusive economic development and data-based decision making, and reviewed IEDC’s training course manual "Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development Strategies" to identify material in need of updating with the latest statistics, trends, and best practices in entrepreneurship support.
U.S. Economic Development Administration - Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative

08/2015 - 05/2017
Graduate Assistant
Virginia Tech
Short Description
As a graduate assistant to the Urban Affairs and Planning department head in 2015, I conducted research to assist with revising the program curriculum. From 2016-2017, I supported a team of three faculty to conduct an NSF/NOAA-funded nationwide survey on flood risk and mitigation, with outreach to nearly 9,000 local government officials. I was responsible for survey instrument testing, contacting prospective respondents by mail and e-mail, tracking responses and issues, and reporting out on survey results. I also researched comprehensive economic development strategies, including reviewing academic and popular literature on the topic and analyzing regional plans from across the U.S. to identify trends. I supported the creation of a new research institution called the Small Cities Institute, which will focus on resilience in small U.S. cities.

06/2017 - 08/2017
Chemonics International
Short Description
The USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program - Procurement and Supply Management Project (GHSC-PSM) aims to ensure uninterrupted supplies of health commodities around the world and increase efficiencies in global and national supply chains. As a consultant, I supported the sourcing and selection of suppliers for multiple high-priority products, and then drafted, negotiated, and executed long-term agreements with those suppliers in order to improve procurement efficiency and lead time.
USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program - Procurement and Supply Management Project (GHSC-PSM)

08/2017 - 05/2018
Research & Policy Fellow
Economic Innovation Group
Short Description
I worked with EIG’s policy team to further EIG’s economic policy agenda and conceptualize and execute research projects, including the 2017 Distressed Communities Index and two subsequent spin-off analyses. I processed and analyzed relevant data, wrote up key findings, produced maps and data visualizations, and drafted related external materials and briefings. I also researched and wrote memoranda on important EIG issue areas such as the impact of non-compete agreements on the labor market and the need case for an international entrepreneur visa. Importantly, I supported the rollout of Opportunity Zones (OZs), a new federal economic development program with the potential to be the largest such program in history. The concept was originally developed by EIG as an innovative new way to bring investment back to distressed communities across the U.S.. I closely tracked state and local developments in OZ implementation, offering guidance on the program to government officials and others leaders and keeping the EIG team apprised of developments. To support this, I helped create informative materials and OZ website content, while also representing EIG on webinars and at conferences to inform stakeholders about this new program. I also created an extensive database of all 8,700+ Opportunity Zones in the U.S. and their economic and demographic characteristics based on publicly available data.

05/2019 - 04/2021
Consultant Success Manager
Short Description
As the Consultant Success Manager, I helped find the right talent for Keylime clients and ensured that consultants had a smooth experience from onboarding through assignment closeout.

06/2018 - 05/2021
Independent Consultant
Short Description
Through Keylime, I supported international development clients in business development, including: assessing BD processes and structures, advising on capture and pre-positioning, writing proposals and concept notes, managing proposal efforts, and recruiting key personnel. I also provided research, analysis, and coordination for programs and studies in entrepreneurship and U.S. economic development (clients included the International Economic Development Council, Fourth Economy Consulting, and the Kauffman Foundation).
International Proposals: U.S. Department of State PRM - Project Benefiting Refugees and Other Vulnerable Populations in Iraq - full proposal coordinator. USAID - Armenia Workforce Development Activity - concept note manager. USAID - Morocco Inclusive Socioeconomic Development in Marrakech-Safi - concept note coordinator. UNICEF Lebanon Communication for Development (C4D) - concept note coordinator. USAID Mali Feed the Future Global Food Security Strategy Implementation - concept note + full proposal manager. USAID EVAL ME II Monitoring Evaluation Learning Services IDIQ - proposal reviewer. European Regional Development and Protection Programme Phase II - Lebanon - concept note lead writer. USAID - Morocco Inclusive Socioeconomic Development in Beni Mellal-Khenifra - concept note lead writer. European Commission - Enhancing CSOs' Contribution to the Governance and Development Process in Jordan - section writer. European Commission - EU4Youth - Fostering Youth Employment and Societal Change through Social Entrepreneurship in Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine - concept note coordinator, full proposal reviewer, section writer. U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) - Project Benefiting Refugees and Other Vulnerable Populations in Iraq - section writer. UKAid Direct - Impact Grants in Mali and Palestine - proposal coordinator. USAID - Libya Local Governance and Civil Society (LGCS) Activity - Chief of Party competitive range recruiter. USAID - Central Asia Enterprises, Employment, and Enabling Environments (E4) Activity - recruiter. USAID - Georgia Economic Security Program - recruiter. USAID - Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund (EAEF) Evaluation - recruiter. Domestic Proposals and Projects: U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Research, Applied Analytics and Statistics (RAAS) - Data Analytics and Innovation Support BPA - proposal manager. Pennsylvania Economic Development Association economic development corporations impact study. Economic Development Administration Disaster Recovery Volunteer Assistance Program.

06/2021 - 04/2022
Director of Economic and Community Development
Thrive West Central
Short Description
Led Thrive's Economic and Community Development division, helping to build strong communities, improve quality of life, and promote economic opportunity in West Central Indiana.
Proposal Lead and Writer for several federal grants, including: USDA Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge; Economic Development Administration Revolving Loan Fund (successful, $800,000); Just Transition Fund (successful, $25,000); and Economic Development Administration Partnership Planning Assistance (successful, $200,000). Proposal Manager for Economic Development Administration's Build Back Better Regional Challenge and Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment grant (successful, $400,000). Secured $3.5 million in state grant funds for an industrial development project and a project to address residential flooding. Acted as advisor and reviewer of several other grant applications for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and private funders. Oversaw the development of an EDA-funded regional Economic Recovery and Resiliency plan to identify and address issues caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are you known for?
I am known for my attention to detail and ability to always remain cool under pressure.

What are you looking for in an assignment?
I'd like to continue supporting clients in developing their BD strategies, processes and tools, and specific proposals. I am most interested in working on proposals related to economic development.

Your favorite productivity hack?
I love tracking all of my projects and tasks on Trello, but also find there's no substitute for me for an old-fashioned pen-and-paper to do list.