Penn State Worthington Scranton Director of Development Maria Russoniello is the 2017 recipient of the campus’ K. Bruce Sherbine Penn State Proud Award.
This award recognizes a member of the campus community whose demonstrated leadership, scholarship and citizenship qualities have been directed into programs and services on campus and/or in the community, and have positively influenced students and employees and contributed to the prestige and well-being of Penn State Worthington Scranton, as well as Penn State as a whole.
Dr. Marwan Wafa, Penn State Worthington Scranton chancellor, presented Russoniello with her award during a special awards dinner held at the campus.
Russoniello, who has been at the campus for the past 37 years, retired at the end of June after building a very successful fundraising program at Penn State Worthington Scranton.
During her tenure as director of development, she has raised over $22 million for the campus.
Russoniello began her Penn State career in Worthington Scranton’s Student Services office. In 1987, she was appointed director of development. At that time, there were only two scholarships at the campus. Since then, her efforts have helped establish more than 100 endowed and annual scholarship funds that are awarded each year to campus students.
In addition, she created nearly 20 annual funds in support of academic programs and student services; nine awards for students and employees; and a lectureship.
Russoniello also raised funds for numerous capital projects, including the Business Building; Science Suite; The David and Ann Hawk Student Success Center; a Nursing Lab renovation with patient simulators; new athletic fields; and an IST Showcase.
She was also instrumental in helping to create the campus’ Emergency Hardship Fund for Students, the Linde Family Business Mentoring Program for upper-level business majors, and bringing successful alumni back to the campus for educational presentations and mentoring opportunities.
For her efforts, Russoniello has been recognized and honored with a myriad of awards for fundraising, leadership, service and programming.
In 2005, she was made a Penn State Administrative Fellow for then Senior Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Rod Kirsch, at Penn State, University Park, a highly selective honor. The University also recognized her with its Staff Excellence Award in 1997 and the Mentor Award for her division.
She was named Outstanding Fundraising Executive by the Greater Pocono Northeast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2007.
Russoniello is well known in both the Penn State community, as well as the regional business community, because of her interaction with local business leaders and her involvement in many community organizations, activities, and for the accolades she has received.
Her community and professional involvement is extensive and includes: National Philanthropy Day chair and vice president of the local Association for Fundraising Professionals Chapter; board chair of Leadership Lackawanna; the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce board member; board vice chair of the former Easter Seals of NEPA; member of the UNICO Scranton Chapter; and as cantor at her church, St. Catherine of Siena, in Moscow.
“I met Maria when I joined the campus in the summer of 2015,” Wafa said. “It didn’t take long to recognize her strong work ethic, important role and contributions to the campus, and countless friendships she has formed with her colleagues, alumni and friends.
“We will certainly miss her being here every day, but will count on and look forward to her continued involvement with the campus as not only a knowledgeable ambassador, but as a creator of, and generous donor to, many campus programs, causes and projects over the years.”
At Penn State Worthington Scranton’s annual Ridge View Society dinner in June, the campus honored Maria by announcing a newly established campus scholarship in her honor, the Maria J. Russoniello Renaissance Scholarship.
As she begins her retirement, Russoniello plans to enjoy time with her husband, Vincent, owner of IT services company Technic Corporation; her daughter Gina, associate attorney with Moore & Van Alen, Charlotte, North Carolina; and Gina’s fiancé, Ankur Tiwari, MD, a physician with Carolina Cardiology Associates.