School of Arts and Sciences

Working Mom Propels Career with B.A. in Behavioral Science, M.A. in Org. Leadership

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pictured is Melissa Ferraro, M.A. in organizational leadership alumna and development director for Sisters Place. | Photo by Jim Judkis

Meet Melissa Ferraro

Job title: Development Director
Employer: Sisters Place, Inc.
Degrees Earned: B.A. in Behavioral Science with a concentration in social work and M.A. in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in leadership development, Point Park University
Graduation years:
2011 and 2013
Hometown:
Pittsburgh, Pa.
High School:
Pittsburgh Carrick High School
Now living in:
Jefferson Hills, Pa.
Hobbies/interests:
Spending time with family and friends, cooking, gardening, exploring new places in Pittsburgh and traveling
Twitter: @PghMamma

What led you to becoming the development director for Sisters Place?

I worked in the nonprofit sector in various capacities for about 15 years. My current position represents a convergence of my nonprofit experience, education and skill set. This role also incorporates my creative side that I like to express. Having a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science, along with the fact that I was enrolled in the master’s in organizational leadership program, helped me to land this director-level position.

What made you choose Point Park?

I transferred to Point Park from another institution because I wanted to be in Downtown Pittsburgh closer to my workplace at the time. Soon after starting at Point Park, I fell in love with the school. There is something special about going to school Downtown when you've grown up in Pittsburgh. What I’ve come to love about Point Park is the diversity of the student body and the integrity and knowledge of the faculty.

How did you balance family, work and school time?

I took advantage of the accelerated format and evening classes that Point Park offers. Also, I was studying concepts I loved so I was really motivated to come to class. I found ways to make it work — whether it meant staying up late, getting up early or doing school work in the waiting room of my daughter’s dance studio or in the backyard with my kids. Overall, it was the flexible class schedules and content of the curriculum that enabled me to have a successful experience.

What were some of your favorite experiences at Point Park?

During my undergraduate studies, I really enjoyed the course in abnormal psychology with Dr. Fessler and all of the sociology courses with Dr. Corado. In my master's program, I had great experiences with Dr. Knorr and Dr. Talbott. They both provided their students with really diverse opportunities and classes that were very much interactive. I always felt what I was learning was serving as practical building blocks for my career. Their passion that came across in class was contagious.

What are your key responsibilities at Sisters Place?

Sisters Place is a supportive housing community committed to assisting single parent families in southwestern Pennsylvania who are homeless. As development director, I am responsible for raising our operating funds through grants, fundraising events and individual group and corporate gifts. Additionally, and equally important, I support the organization’s friendraising goals through volunteer and donor cultivation, social media interaction and communication about our mission.

As part of the leadership team at Sisters Place, I utilize the skills I learned at Point Park on a daily basis. What I learned is engrained in the work I do. I’m also the liaison of our young professionals board so I provide leadership and professional guidance on philanthropy and nonprofit work to these individuals.

What are your career goals? 

My career goals are to continue working in the nonprofit sector and making a difference regarding the social concerns of our community. The way I’m doing that at this point in my career is in a macro way by impacting programming and funding. I’d like to continue to grow and learn in the hopes that my efforts are helping the community at large.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A lot of my friends and family say to me “I don’t know how you did it.” I always encourage people to advance their education. Why not? We all should live a long life of learning. Point Park offers such great opportunities in the center of the city, particularly if you work or live Downtown. But even if you don’t, you can easily commute to campus from the suburbs. Point Park is a great educational community to be a part of and I’m proud to share my experience. I found the right programs and the right school. Point Park was a good match for me.

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