Gretchen Van der Veer has been working on issues related to civic engagement, social policy, and leadership development in the higher education, government, and nonprofit sectors for over 30 years. She currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Fair Chance, a social change organization fighting institutional racism and generational poverty by investing expertise and capacity to scale strategically selected community-based nonprofits serving children, youth, and families. Since 2002, Fair Chance has worked with over 120 nonprofits serving a combined 120,000 young people in DC and Maryland and are now engaged with several partners in replicating the model in additional geographic locations.
During Van der Veer’s seven-year tenure at Fair Chance she has tripled the budget, established a major giving circle, secured government contracts, and replicated the model in additional locations. During this time, she has also led the board and staff in developing a revised mission, vision, values, theory of change, and strategic plan, culminating in the publishing of a Racial Equity Framework in 2019. Working with other nonprofit leaders and DC policy makers, she has helped to create a new city Office for Out-of-School time and Summer Programming (Learn 24), secured increased City Council funding for out-of-school time programs, and advocated for legislation to ensure fair compensation for nonprofit grants and contracts.
Van der Veer received her PhD from the University of Maryland in education policy, planning, and administration while serving as Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Her work tracking the participation of students and faculty in community service activities led to involvement with the growing national service movement and in 2004, she was appointed to government service as a part of the national launch of the AmeriCorps program.
Following AmeriCorps’ successful implementation, Van der Veer served in several leadership roles with the AmeirCorps agency including: Director of the National Service Leadership Institute; Director of Leadership Development and Training; Acting Executive Director of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation; and Director of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service where she hosted three U.S. Presidents and three U.S. First Ladies. In 2013, she left CNCS to assume the role at Fair Chance.
For the past five years, Van der Veer has been an adjunct professor in George Washington University’s Human Service and Social Justice Program teaching Organizing for Social Justice and Nonprofit and Organization Management. She also serves as a facilitator for Georgetown University’s New Strategies Program out of the McDonough School of Business and was appointed to the Community Investment Council of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank and the University of Maryland’s College of Education Board of Visitors. Van der Veer has also edited a book and written chapters and articles in several publications including most recently Nonprofit Quarterly.
Originally, from Toledo, Ohio, Van der Veer and her husband Steven Beckham, a government relations consultant, live in the Washington, DC area with their two daughters.