Spotlight on Nonprofits
Rachel Petrucelli, UPMC Children’s Hospital Foundation
Working in the nonprofit sector — specifically at UPMC Children’s Hospital Foundation — has enabled me to draw on my own lived experience to ease the burdens many children and families face here in our community. As the mom of a daughter with complex medical and behavioral health needs, I have profound compassion and empathy for families caring lovingly for children and teens living with similar challenges. While my family and I have been blessed with access to the care and support my daughter needs to live her best, fullest life, I know that many other families face unjust barriers to care that are outside of their control. It is a privilege to work for a nonprofit that tears down these barriers, leveraging philanthropy from generous donors to empower amazing children — like my own precious daughter — to thrive. It is also an honor to support doctors, nurses, and staff who work so hard to improve children’s health, thus creating a brighter future for all of us. I am grateful to contribute any way I can to this mission. When I can uplift others through this work, it gives new and beautiful meaning to my own family’s journey.
Melia Tourangeau, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Growing up, music was my life and led me to Oberlin College Conservatory as a piano performance major. However, as much as I loved playing, I simply didn’t love performing. I’m gratified that I caught the management bug and discovered that I was good at fundraising, building relationships, and supporting musicians in their careers. I have been fortunate to have had very rich experiences with orchestras in Akron, Grand Rapids, Salt Lake City, and now in Pittsburgh since 2015. For me, working in a nonprofit, particularly in music, is deeply fulfilling as it is a great place to support people who are engaged in a similar passion, rallying around a cause and fulfilling a role that can only be done in partnership with our community, our government and the private sector. While we face many challenges, the vision of providing great music to our community is inspiring and motivating. I’ll never forget coming to Pittsburgh to interview for this position, sitting in Heinz Hall, and hearing Manfred Honeck lead the musicians in Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony. I had heard the piece a million times, but hearing THIS orchestra perform this work under his baton was like hearing it for the very first time. It hit my soul in a way nothing else can. It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of leading this great orchestra in this extraordinary city.
Roxann Booser, Maridon Museum
I have worked in the nonprofit sector almost all my career, sometimes overlapping with employment in for-profit businesses. What strikes me as having a profound effect, both personally and professionally, is the people with whom I share the nonprofit world. I have been amazed at the selflessness I see every day. People give their time to serve on boards, volunteer on committees or at events, and donate their money. They do so in many cases without any recognition — no awards, no newspaper write-ups, and no mention of good deeds from others. They have taught me about true “community” and how to give of myself. This has helped me to be truly appreciative of our own organization’s volunteers and donors, without whom we could not exist. It also helps me to understand how even the smallest tokens of assistance, whether time or money, can make a huge impact on other nonprofit organizations in which I participate. The phrase “it takes a village” is never more obvious than when observing the nonprofit sector.
August Carlino, Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation
My career has always been connected to the public sector, whether when I worked for former Pittsburgh Congressman Bill Coyne or as a lobbyist for a large, international law firm. When I was hired by a nonprofit to help organize and establish what is today Rivers of Steel, I never thought I would be in the same job 30-plus years later. I can point to many reasons, but I think the overriding reason is my enjoyment of working with communities and organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania. There is a different feeling of the reward from your job when you work your hardest to contribute to the greater good of a community and not just work to increase the bottom-line profit of a company. It is that same feeling I had when I worked for Congressman Coyne — working for the betterment of Pittsburgh.
Gregg Behr, The Grable Foundation
The sheer amount of need can almost overwhelm. How many children are hungry? How many neighbors are cold? How many families wonder whether this most-livable region is livable for them at all? The problems we face run deep, with roots in everything from the decline of industry to the policies that divide and exclude. As a sector, nonprofits are called to remake the region, building a more just and loving Pittsburgh where every community, every family, and every child has the tools and the freedom to thrive. As we write in “When You Wonder, You’re Learning,” Fred Rogers left us the blueprints. Though Pittsburgh’s problems can make Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood look like a fantasy, countless nonprofit professionals are following in Fred’s footsteps. With little fanfare, they’re feeding our neighbors, caring for our learners, and fighting for the safety, dignity, and opportunity that every Pittsburgher deserves. They do work that shouldn’t have to be done and meet needs that shouldn’t have to be met. And they do so with generosity, good humor, and grace. They are the hope of this region, and the privilege of supporting their work has been — and remains — my highest professional honor.