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What is Health and Human Development?

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Janelle Rushton

Penn State connections led to career in development and alumni relations

When a door opens, walk through it! When opportunity knocks, answer it! That’s the advice of Janelle Rushton ’15, who, from her own experience, wouldn’t have ended up doing the work she currently enjoys, unless she responded to presented opportunities. A job opened up with the Lion Line phone-a-thon her senior year, which led to an internship in the Office for Development and Alumni Relations, which opened the door to her post-graduation job. Never did she think that she would find herself in college development and alumni engagement with her Human Development and Family Studies degree, but it all seemed to fall into place. Funny how that happens in life, sometimes.

Janelle started her career in development at West Chester University of Pennsylvania as the assistant director of annual giving. She discovered that this was a calling and after two years, she was appointed the associate director of annual giving at Widener University. In this role, she identifies, cultivates, solicits, and connects Widener alumni, students, and friends who contribute at the leadership annual giving level of $500 or more. She manages the University’s crowdfunding platform and campaigns and fosters a culture of student giving through direct mail and email appeals. Janelle also supports the alumni engagement team in event planning and its execution. In addition, she manages the alumni social media accounts to keep a presence and a connection for those loyal to Widener.   

Janelle is also the current vice president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association, which directly ties into her 9-5 job. She just finished a two-year term serving as president of the HDFS Affiliate Program Group (APG). Her passion for Penn State and alumni outreach remains strong! While the Philadelphia area has much to offer, she loves to travel and has visited 36 of 50 states! Reading and staying active (tennis anyone?) round out this alumna’s active lifestyle!

This profile was published November 2021.

Janelle is the current vice president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association and she just finished a two-year term as president of the HDFS Affiliate Program Group (APG). Her passion for Penn State and alumni outreach remains strong!