Beth Marcello was a young woman living a single’s life in Pittsburgh when she decided out of the blue that she should become a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters. She still doesn’t know where the inclination came from – she’d never done anything like it, and she had no experience working with kids. But it just felt right.
So, she embarked on the journey of being matched with a “little sister,” Danielle, who she mentored for several years. It wasn’t easy.
“Danielle was feisty and a challenge, but I was committed to making the match work,” said Beth. “Even at six years old, Danielle was a force and I became very fond of her.”
Ultimately, Beth’s mentoring relationship drew to an abrupt close because of changes in Danielle’s family circumstances. Both were shaken but found ways to stay in touch throughout the years as Danielle graduated from grade school, high school, college and is now pursuing her career as a teacher.
“I don’t know what Danielle would say about the experience, but the impression she and the relationship had on me was really life-changing,” said Beth. “I think I was always intrinsically passionate about uplifting women and girls, but being a Big Sister was my first concrete opportunity to put it into practice. In retrospect, that experience paved the way for what I do today.”
Indeed, Beth went on to become the Director of Women’s Business Development for PNC Bank in Pittsburgh, as well as becoming heavily involved with Strong Women, Strong Girls Pittsburgh, first as an Advisory Board member, then as Advisory Board chair, and eventually helping to establish the Pittsburgh Regional Board we know today. In her role at PNC, Beth focuses on educating bankers to better serve women who are making financial decisions, whether for their family or their own business.
“It’s really about raising awareness among employees at PNC about the importance and contributions of women as financial decision-makers,” said Beth.
Today, nearly 2,000 of Beth’s colleagues self-identify as PNC-Certified Women’s Business Advocates (WBAs), a certification that provides an avenue for men and women to represent the bank in women-focused organizations like SWSG. In fact, Beth got involved with SWSG after the founder, Lindsay Hyde, spoke at an internal WBA conference. Lynn Garfinkel, SWSG’s founding Executive Director in Pittsburgh, knew other women at PNC who encouraged Beth to become involved. She’s served SWSG Pittsburgh ever since and is the immediate past chairwoman of the board.
“I believe in the SWSG mission and purpose and the curriculum we deliver, because it’s important and unique,” said Beth. “SWSG doesn’t replicate something that’s already happening elsewhere in Pittsburgh or anywhere – we’re not redundant or repetitive, and I love that.”
As a lifelong Pittsburgher, Beth has contributed her time and passion to a number of other community organizations, including serving on the boards of the South Side Local Development Company, City Theatre, and the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards. Her experiences have shown her that while much progress has been made in advocating for women in Pittsburgh, there’s still work to be done. That’s why she’s excited to be a founding member of a brand new angel investment fund called the Next Act Fund. Started by Yvonne Campos, Next Act is comprised of primarily women investors who are investing in primarily women-owned startups based mostly in the Pittsburgh region.
“Such a tiny amount of venture capital goes to women,” said Beth. “By having more women investors, we’ll increase the amount of money that can help women-owned companies scale.”
Beth describes Pittsburgh as a “roll-up-your-sleeves” kind of city – “there’s a culture of not just engaging in philanthropy, but really coming together and getting involved, and that doesn’t happen everywhere.” And between her work with SWSG, the Next Act Fund, and PNC, she’s more than excited to be a part of that culture.