MBA and Ph.D. in Community Engagement Alumna Named Executive Director of Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh Alumni Profile
Meet Brittany McDonald, Ph.D.
- Job Title & Employer
- Executive Director, Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh
- MBA, Community Engagement-Ph.D.
- 2016, 2019
- College Activities
- Founded the Net Impact graduate chapter at Point Park University
- Homestead, Pa.
- High School
- Steel Valley Senior High School
- Now Living In
- Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Hobbies & Interests
- Nonprofit board service and volunteerism
"My favorite grad school memory was presenting my research at the Community Engagement Symposium. Public speaking has never been my thing, but this event went really well. It was great to see my fellow cohort members present their research and provide insight on the program to the upcoming cohort members."
Tell us about your new position as executive director of Uptown Partners.
I develop and advance strategies to accelerate the implementation of Uptown Partners’ strategic plan and the neighborhood’s adopted EcoInnovation District Plan. I represent the neighborhood and Uptown Partners with relevant public and private partners to improve the community’s quality of life and continued revitalization. With guidance and support from UP's board of directors, I oversee all administrative, fiduciary and management needs of the organization.
Established in 2007, Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh is a nonprofit, community benefits organization uniting residents, anchor institutions and business owners to advance the community’s vision for a vibrant, sustainable and just Uptown for all.
Why did you choose Point Park University’s Ph.D. in community engagement and MBA programs?
As an undergrad student at Pitt, I was a biology major with a chemistry minor. Right after graduation, I started working for PNC Bank. I was in a good position and making my way in the financial services industry. However, I switched my area of study completely and decided to pursue an MBA focused in international business.
During undergrad and my time at PNC, I was always active in the community from volunteerism to nonprofit board leadership. While I enjoy working in the corporate arena, my heart is in nonprofits and positive social impact. This is what sparked my interest in the Ph.D. in community engagement program. Focusing my research on understanding corporate social responsibility and its impact on employee engagement allowed me to view community engagement from a corporate lens.
How did your professors in the MBA and Ph.D. programs impact you?
All of my Ph.D. in community engagement and MBA professors were very helpful in my success with the programs. However, Dr. Mitchel Nickols was very helpful with providing advice on how to be focused and efficient when it came to completing my dissertation.
What are your favorite Point Park grad school memories?
My favorite grad school memory was presenting my research at the Community Engagement Symposium. Public speaking has never been my thing, but this event went really well. It was great to see my fellow cohort members present their research and provide insight on the program to the upcoming cohort members.
What career advice do you have for our graduate students?
My advice is to really focus on your passion and your strengths and work diligently to gain the necessary experience needed to achieve your ideal role. Opportunities are not just handed out in the real world and the competition is real. Sometimes you have to exhaust all avenues and go above and beyond. You may even have to make your own lane. In the end, it is worth it. Simply put, don’t get complacent and be the best you possible.