Holly Van Houten
Holly Van Houten brings a wealth of experience to Solid Ground, including 20 years in the nonprofit and government sectors and seven years as a consultant specializing in fund development, grant writing, project management, and public engagement. Raised in Eugene, Holly left Oregon to attend Oberlin College and then moved on to UCLA to study urban planning. She eventually landed in Washington, D.C., where she got a first-hand look at how laws are made (yes, she says, it’s very much like making sausage). Heading back west, she spent 20 years in the Bay Area before returning to her home state in 2013. During her time in the Bay Area, she served as a planner for the National Park Service’s Rivers and Trails program, supporting community-based open space and trails planning, including facilitating many public meetings and an interagency stakeholder group. After a brief stint at the Presidio Trust, she became the executive director of the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. Learning all aspects of governance, fund development, human resources, and finances and accounting was a trial-by-fire experience that she credits with giving her a deep understanding of what executive directors and nonprofits go through.
‘You improvise to the music and create something beautiful.’
Out of the office, Holly’s passion for swing dancing has shaped her approach to nonprofits, consulting, and life in general: “You may move your feet really fast as a Lindy Hopper, but the dance can be effortless when you connect with your partner and build off each other’s momentum to propel yourself forward. You improvise to the music and create something beautiful.”