Alumni Affairs and Outreach Manager, Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc.
Tell Us About Yourself
My mission is to create moments that ignite empathy and foster deeper understanding across people, places, ideas, and cultures both locally and globally. I am particularly passionate about organizations and movements rooted in gender equity, regional community-building, and global citizenship.
My skill set and priorities are informed by a unique background that includes film production, visual communications, nonprofit leadership, project management, and more. My personal and professional values have been shaped by a deep curiosity to learn more about the systems that shape our lived experiences as humans and to explore our relationship with these systems so that we can iterate them for the better.
What are some key milestones or achievements that have helped shape your career?
- In 2011, I went to film school as an undergraduate to earn my B.A. in Cinema. As a young professional, I jumped headfirst into professional film production’s creative and demanding world. After freelancing for a few years, I received an opportunity to work as a full-time production coordinator in the media wing of an international consulting firm. The consultancy opened my eyes to the world of savvy business development and creative storytelling in service of the greater good. It taught me that clever storytelling doesn’t have to be confined to a narrative film. When you have a strong mission, storytelling should be employed anywhere and everywhere.
- This intersection of storytelling and mission-driven work bolstered two standout roles in my career. I worked at a photojournalism nonprofit where I had the opportunity to collaborate closely with other mission-driven organizations by producing documentary films that highlighted the global power of women. It’s an experience I’m deeply grateful for. These projects strongly informed my next roles as Program Specialist, Associate Director, and eventually Director at The Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program at Robert Morris University. As Director, storytelling was woven through all that I did to lead and engage our student population of young leaders, our strong group of Faculty/Staff and professional mentors, and a highly motivated Alumni base. By that point, my experiences have also solidified my passion for gender equity and intersectionality. These are values that I still hold dear to this day.
- Now, at Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., I leverage all of these moments to shape the LPInc. Alumni Experience. LPInc. has a diverse Alumni base of over 3,500 engaged civic leaders. This coalition spans disciplines, generations, and skill sets. It’s my job to understand what our Alumni need, so they may continue making positive changes in this region and empower the next generation to do the same.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career or line of work?
I love to truly get to know people by understanding their personal connection to leadership and mission-driven work. Everybody has a story to share.
Can you share any valuable lessons or insights you’ve gained throughout your professional journey?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and dig deeper. Curiosity is a superpower.
What is something that others may not know about you?
Laura Ruschak on top of Mt. Moosilauke, NH.
In 2019, I hiked all 2,192 miles of the Appalachian Trail over a seven-month period. It was totally awesome, and it changed my life.
What are your passions?
I love empowering young women to step into their agency in their personal, professional, and civic lives. To this end, I’m passionate about encouraging others to understand their humanity as professionals and leaders more broadly. We are multifaceted individuals whose lives are complex and nuanced beyond what we do to earn a living, and that’s OK. Accepting and exploring that fact helps us be stronger in all that we do, including our mission-driven leadership roles.
What is your favorite quote? Why?
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” ― Lilla Watson
This quote embodies a sentiment that is crucial to all mission-driven work. Collective liberation can only be realized when we understand that our future is bound together. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your career or any upcoming projects you’re excited about?
At Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., we’re embarking on a plan to collect and share stories and long-term impact from our Alumni base. Stay tuned!
What led you to become a member of NPSK’s online community?
I was invited to join this community by a valued colleague in my network, the co-founder of NPSK, Stephanie Masters. As a longtime fan of Stephanie’s work, I was elated to get involved and to see her expertise manifested through this organization. I now see NPSK as an invaluable resource for my career.
How has being a part of this community helped you personally or professionally?
NPSK offers a gold standard of professional and personal support that allows you to thrive as a nonprofit leader. Sometimes, nonprofit work can feel ambiguous, frustrating, or even lonely. NPSK gets it. They’ll meet you where you’re at to deliver the tools and support you need to understand yourself and the landscape you work in in a detailed way that still feels accessible and personalized.
Kind Words for Nonprofit SideKick!
Steph and Wendy have cultivated a beautiful, one-of-a-kind environment of support and care for their NPSK community members. They make it easy to be vulnerable, seek answers, and discuss the challenges and opportunities we face as nonprofit leaders. Their emotional intelligence is equally matched by their skillset. It’s a highly rewarding space to be a part of.
Interested in uniting and connecting with Laura and other members of the NPSK Online Community?