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Why I Serve – Isabella DiSabato and Emilie Rush

Recently, two new team members joined Benefactor Group—Isabella DiSabato and Emilie Rush—who both serve as Project Managers. As Project Managers, Isabella and Emilie help to guide and keep diverse projects, ranging from campaigns to development planning efforts to executive searches, running on time and on course.  

You’ll find a few reflections from Isabella and Emilie—on philanthropy, the common good, and their personal passions—below.  

How did you get involved with serving nonprofit organizations? Why did you join Benefactor Group? 

Emilie: I joined Benefactor Group straight out of college. I was attracted to the firm because of the mission to do well—to serve by serving others. Growing up, this value of service—of supporting causes that make an impact in the community—was one closely held by my family. In college, I was fortunate to be involved with several different nonprofits: ranging from higher education to child services, and a few in between. Becoming a part of the “Bene team” felt like a natural next step—and an exciting, impactful start to my career. I couldn’t be happier to grow alongside the organization. 

Isabella: Prior to joining Benefactor Group, I served as the Senior Assistant to the President at Gateway Film Center, an independent, nonprofit cinema located in Columbus, Ohio. I joined the Film Center team while completing my undergraduate degree in Film and Video studies and worked my way up from ticket sales to executive administration. As a result, I was lucky enough to learn, experience, and participate in nonprofit management in multiple capacities: from development to sales to marketing to board engagement. I gained a tremendous appreciation for the hard work and dedication of nonprofit team members and wanted to expand my knowledge in the field. Like Emilie, I’m incredibly excited to begin to learn and aid new nonprofit organizations with the rest of the Benefactor team! 

What inspires you to serve the common good? 

Isabella: My community. I find great joy in knowing my work has a positive impact on those around me. Especially today—in a world both overconnected and isolated by influences like social media—the work to strengthen individual communities is more urgent than ever. 

Emilie: I recognize how privileged I was throughout my childhood, in ways that will ripple out through the rest of my life. I’m intimately aware of how my own circumstances could’ve been different if I say, was adopted by a different family or went to a different school or chose to pursue a different path. In addition to that, I believe in loving other people well and meeting them where they are at.  

We’re living in rapidly changing times—which extends to the philanthropic landscape. What gives you hope for the future of philanthropy over the next five years? 

Emilie: I can’t be sure of much when it comes to the future, but I can be sure that people will continue to support the causes that have their hearts. The last few years have been socially, economically, and culturally unstable, but giving has remained largely stable. My hope for the next five years is that people will find ways to contribute to the vitality of their community, even if they don’t have the means to provide financial support. 

Isabella: I couldn’t agree more. I believe in people. I’ve witnessed my generation rally around and crowdsource support for causes ranging from medical support to individual passion projects to social movements. People will continue to find new, exciting ways to express generosity in the years to come. 

What influences how you give, volunteer, or advocate?  

Isabella: For me, an organization’s mission speaks volumes. If an organization has a strong mission statement and clearly demonstrates their values, I find myself much more motivated to participate. 

Emilie: Absolutely—and in addition to a good mission, an organization filled with passionate people who consistently give their all.  

If you could make a $1 million gift to any organization, where would you direct your contribution; and why? 

Emilie: This one is hard because there are so many organizations that have my heart! Today, I’ll go with Make-a-Wish Foundation because before my mom passed away, we got to make some unforgettable, one-of-a-kind memories together and I want other families to receive that same gift. 

Isabella: I think I have to go with Planned Parenthood—they provide vital services, from reproductive health care to sex education to folks from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. I believe their work is fundamental and helps better our communities. 

Where can someone find you when you’re not at work? 

Isabella: Watching something, either at my home or a local theater…support your local independent cinemas! I also love to play board and tabletop games with my friends and am a member of a D&D campaign that has been ongoing for the past four years.  

Emilie: You can find me curled up in a blanket reading a book or engrossed in a show or movie most of the time. I also enjoy cooking, learning how to crochet, and taking a nice weekend nap. 

What are you currently reading, or what do you recommend? 

Emilie: I’ve always been a bit book-obsessed. On vacation, I can chug through 600+ pages a day. Here are some of the books I’ve enjoyed in the last week: Happy Place by Emily Henry, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, and Everything Happens for a Reason: and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler. 

Isabella: I’m currently reading The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune. That being said, it would be out of character if I didn’t use this time to talk about movies! Here are a few films currently streaming that I recommend you check out:  

  • Arrival (dir. Denis Villeneuve, 2016) streaming on Prime Video  
  • Nimona (dirs. Troy Quane, Nick Bruno, 2023) streaming on Netflix 
  • Shiva Baby (dir. Emma Seligman, 2020) streaming on Max 
  • Songs My Brothers Taught Me (dir. Chloé Zhao, 2016) streaming on Hulu 

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