Winter 2018 Newsletter – Donor Spotlight: Megan Abbott


We had an opportunity to interview Megan Abbott, a longtime donor and former employee of Union Settlement, who is the author of eight crime novels—including You Will Know MeDare Me and The Fever—and is currently a staff writer on HBO’s new hit show, The Deuce. Megan wrote her first book while she was employed at Union Settlement and left to write a screenplay based on one of her novels. Her most recent book, You Will Know Me, was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2016 by NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Time Out New York, The Washington Post, Google, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Megan’s next book, Give Me Your Hand, will be out this summer.

UNION SETTLEMENT: Tell us about how you first learned about Union Settlement?

MEGAN ABBOTT: I responded to a New York Times job ad in, I think, 2002 and I count myself lucky that I did! I came on as a grant writer and eventually became the Director of Grants and Contracts. I worked at Union Settlement for a decade and though many things changed, the constants were the mission, the warmth and generosity of the staff and directors, and the great energy of East Harlem.

US: What are some of your favorite memories of working here?

MA: Oh, boy, I always loved the Day of the Dead celebration—the glorious costumes, the dances, the mariachi music, of course. I loved working with so many of the great program directors. Too many to count! And both [former Executive Director] Ellen Simon and David Nocenti were very inspiring to me. Their passion and commitment were contagious!

US: What inspired you about Union Settlement?

MA: I saw every day how tirelessly the staff worked to make things happen to improve conditions and to build community with the program participants. I saw the people in East Harlem strive to make their lives better for their families. I also saw that not one single dime was wasted by the organization and that everything mattered.

US: Why do you feel connected to our mission?

MA: Because I’ve seen it in action thousands of times—from the kids in the Early Childhood Education centers learning their numbers, all the way up to the participants in the senior programs taking computer classes. The vibrant immigrant populations of East Harlem are sharing their heritages, and building rich, positive lives in the community.

US: Anything else you want to share with us?

MA: Only that I always smile when I receive the newsletters or updates. I love seeing the life and energy and dynamism there. I’ll always support Union Settlement—it’ll be lodged in my heart forever!