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Q&A: Non-profit communications director

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Brian Rusch is the communications director for a non-profit organization called Project Happiness in Palo Alto, Calif. Brian took a moment to answer some questions for CareerBuilder about the specifics of his role.

CareerBuilder: What does your organization do?

Brian Rusch: We specialize in emotional resilience-building programs to teach social and emotional life skills to young people. Basically, we teach kids how to deal with things like anger, sadness, bullying and stress. We do this through a strength-based curriculum available for all ages that is drawn from the best of positive psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness. It is available through downloadable formats, a work book and a documentary film, all of which we offer free to educators.

CB: What are the general responsibilities of your job?

BR: My primary responsibilities are to handle the public relations and marketing of our products and services, as well as to the organization as a whole and the founder. Because we operate with a small but strong staff, I wear many hats including event planning, scheduling and fundraising.

CB: What skills have you learned along the path to your current position?

BR: This is my first time working for a non-profit organization and the new skills I have learned are in the area of development. I really enjoy the fundraising aspects of working for a non-profit and have incorporated more of that in my current role. I have to say that, whether by osmosis or making an actual effort, I have found that I embody many of the skills we teach through our programs as well.
CB: What is the best part about your job?
BR: By far the best thing is the work. To be able to see us making a meaningful difference in the lives of young people locally and throughout the world is amazing. When I see the difference our programs have made in people's lives, I can truly say that there just is nothing in the world like that.
CB: What are the challenges of your job?

BR: I think the biggest challenge is really the hours it requires. We have been fortunate to grow at an amazing rate, but it requires a lot of time and energy. On an average, I work 14-hour days every day. It is worth it because it is so rewarding, but it can be challenging at times.

CB: What kind of advancement might there be down the road from your current role?
BR: I have been at my current position for a year and already I have been promoted twice. I really feel passionate about the organization and the work we are doing and feel that at this time, my current role best supports the organization and our mission.

CB: What sort of education is typically needed to enter the non-profit industry?

BR: I think that depends greatly on the areas one plans on focusing on. For me personally, my background is marketing, which suits me perfectly for my role in the organization. I think if one has a well-rounded background and knows about things like social media, finance and programming, that definitely helps. I have been continuing my education since my most recent promotion to learn more about non-profit management, human resources and grant writing.

Last Updated: 04/01/2012 - 11:45 PM

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