Brenda O’Russa serves as director of development for St. Mark Catholic Parish in Peoria. What began five years ago as a part-time position dedicated to alumni outreach has grown under her leadership to include many other aspects, including fundraising, marketing communications, education, operations and administration.
In addition to her development responsibilities, O’Russa serves as the Illinois Math and Science Academy fusion coordinator for St. Mark’s School. In partnership with IMSA, she coordinates an afterschool program for gifted and motivated students, and ensures that St. Mark’s retains its certification for the program.
For the past five years, O’Russa has chaired or co-chaired the parish’s largest fundraiser, the St. Mark’s Auction. Under her leadership, last year’s event netted over four times more than it did prior to her involvement. Her abilities to delegate responsibility, solve problems and maintain a positive attitude are key factors in the auction’s success.
A truly inspiring servant-leader, O’Russa has been a dedicated volunteer with the Junior League of Peoria for more than 13 years. She has held key leadership roles, including that of president, and has chaired numerous fundraisers, projects and internal committees, in addition to mentoring other members.
Perhaps her greatest contribution to the Junior League has been her passion for bringing the Peoria PlayHouse, a hands-on children’s museum, to the community. She has assumed a key role in the $8 million Power of Play capital campaign, which seeks to fund the building of not only the PlayHouse, but also the Grand Entry to the expanded Peoria Zoo. In this endeavor, she donates more than 50 hours of volunteer time each month to further the Junior League’s affiliation with the Peoria Zoological Society.
O’Russa is a graduate of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School and a winner of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. She is an active volunteer at St. Mark’s Church and serves as the editor of the Uplands Residential Association newsletter. iBi