Gretchen Van der Veer

Gretchen Van der Veer

Gretchen Van der Veer

Lecturer; Part-Time Faculty


Van der Veer’s career began at the University of Maryland where as a doctoral student she studied leadership development in higher education, tracked the participation of students and faculty in community service activities, and was involved on several local community boards. She then was tapped to help launch the AmeriCorps program as a part of the Clinton Administration and then served in various leadership roles at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) through the Bush and early Obama years. At CNCS she was responsible for strategies to improve the sustainability and performance of thousands of CNCS grants, helped launch the Social Innovation Fund, directed the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, created a leadership institute for nonprofit leaders, and served as the Acting Executive Director of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. Through the years she has also taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels for the Universities of Maryland and South Carolina and was a guest faculty member in Georgetown University’s Nonprofit Management Certificate program.

Gretchen Van der Veer has been working on issues related to civic engagement, capacity building, and leadership development in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years. She currently serves as the CEO/Executive Director of Fair Chance, a social change organization fighting generational poverty by investing expertise and capacity building in strategically selected community-based nonprofits so they can achieve life-changing results for more children and youth in the neighborhoods they serve. Since 2002 Fair Chance has worked with over 100 organizations serving a combined 80,000 children and youth. Through her work with Fair Chance, Van der Veer collects data on hundreds of DC nonprofits serving children and youth and tracks their progress on key measures of performance and sustainability. She also maintains a learning community of over 70 organizations and has improved programs, technology systems, and increased donors and revenue at Fair chance by 60% in the last two years. Believing that every child deserves a “fair chance” to succeed, Fair Chance's unique model works at the grassroots in local communities to strengthen the existing nonprofit ecosystem, facilitate collaboration, and put more children and youth on a pathway out of poverty. 

The intersection of government and nonprofits

Building the capacity of grassroots community-based nonprofits to strengthen communities from the inside-out

Nonprofit ecosystems and impact

HSSJ 3110W - Nonprofit and Organizational Management

HSSJ 1177 - Organizing for Social Justice in Human Services

Van der Veer, G (2015). “Recent U.S. federal policy: Identifying evidence and achieving nonprofit impact

at scale, “in Rebalancing Public Private Partnership, Innovative Practice between Government and Nonprofits from around the World, J. Brothers (Ed.). Ashgate/Gower Publishing.

Van der Veer, G. (2012, February 10). Becoming a Data-Driven Organization. From Independent Sector's

“ NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now,” 

Van der Veer, G. (2008, October 10). Volunteering Reinvented: Strategic Planning for Human

Capital in the Nonprofit Sector. Conversations on Volunteer Management. From Volunteer Maine

Gardner, J. N., Van der Veer, G., & Associates (1997). The senior year experience: Facilitating Integration, Reflection, Closure, and Transition.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

PhD, University of Maryland, 1991