Melissa Russell PershingClass year and major: 1978, B.S. Radio/TV.

Current position and responsibilities: Executive Director of The Julian Center, Indianapolis, which provides shelter and counseling to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Major project/achievement of the past year: In partnership with a wonderful staff, I helped the ALS Association Indiana Chapter (Lou Gehrig’s disease) double their ALS Walk revenue in 2011 — just before joining the Julian Center this fall.

Why did you choose a career in nonprofit administration: Having spent half my professional career in corporate and agency communications and public relations, I felt the need to take my education and experience and use them to benefit others for the remainder of my professional life. It has been far more rewarding than I could ever have imagined. There’s nothing like being able to join your passion with your work and knowing you are making a difference in people’s lives.

How did Butler prepare you for your career: Butler’s Radio/TV program was second to none in the country, provided excellent, hands-on practical experience. I had a wonderful internship at Carlson & Company advertising (led by another Butler grad Norm Wilkens ’57).

Most memorable experiences at Butler: Serving as Panhellenic president and working with then Dean of Women Jane Lewis provided me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for campus-wide leadership experience, as well as insight into the inner workings and management of a large institution.

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