Latasha Wilson-Batch, Executive Director of Best of the Batch Foundation and a Strong Women, Strong Girls Regional Board member, has always had an insatiable passion for serving others, especially children. After an advanced education and years of working with kids in a number of different communities, she now gets to do what she loves every day.
Latasha, known as Tasha by her friends and colleagues, attended Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina as an undergraduate and was the first person at the university to receive a dual degree, which she earned in physical education and psychology. She went on to the University of Tennessee and earned a master’s degree in human development and sports, and then earned a second master’s degree years later in professional counseling from Carlow University.
In 2004, Tasha became the Executive Director of Best of the Batch Foundation. Today, the Foundation is headquartered in Homestead, Pa., and touches the lives of approximately 3,800 children in seven counties each year. The Foundation is education-based, with programs including after-school, summer camp, holiday drives, mentoring, tutoring, parenting classes, and more. Many of the children that Tasha and her team work with live in underserved communities, and Best of the Batch is a valuable resource.
“It’s the best of both worlds – working with children in the mental health area as well as education, as well as making a difference in their lives,” said Tasha.
Tasha leads a team of two staff members, plus a volunteer base of more than 800 people that makes the Foundation possible. There’s not a day that goes by that Tasha isn’t working directly with the children in her program, she said. She loves watching them grow up and graduate, seeing them have an a-ha! moment when they’re working on a science project, experiencing their compassion when they’re making blankets and delivering them to Children’s Hospital. But there are immense challenges, too – or, as Tasha calls them, life lessons.
“I can’t take every kid home with me and fix them,” she said. “That’s the toughest thing because some of these kids are so hungry to be loved or so hungry to be helped. You know the way they fall asleep at night is not the way any child should fall asleep at night. All I can do is support them, mentor them, love them, continue to encourage them.”
Tasha became involved with Strong Women, Strong Girls Pittsburgh more than 10 years ago when her husband, Charlie, a former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, was asked to serve on the Board of Directors. Tasha was a volunteer with the program at first – Best of the Batch served as an SWSG program site during an expansion period – and she became a board member when Charlie’s term ended.
“I believe in what [SWSG does],” said Tasha. “I like to be on boards where I’m able to be involved – the ones that fulfill me are the ones where I’m able to interact with the purpose and the mission of the organization.”
In her mind, SWSG and Best of the Batch go hand-in-hand, because no one organization can do it all. She tries to carry over the themes of empowerment and strong female role models from SWSG into her work at the Foundation. By defying stereotypes that young girls are exposed to, she works to show them what a strong woman can look like.
“I’m the wife of an NFL player – reality TV has changed the perception of that role,” said Tasha. “But kids can see that Miss Tasha doesn’t fit that TV perception. She goes to work every day, she’s out here planting flowers and painting with us, showing that strong women can look like this too.”
Tasha loves working in the education realm and hopes that organizations like Best of the Batch and SWSG can continue to create educational facilities for the kids of the city of Pittsburgh – they have to learn young that they can be anything, she said. But she plans, one day, to be more immersed in mental health counseling.
“‘When I grow up,’ I will have a private practice; I’ll be able to work with children on a different level,” said Tasha. “I’ll be able to have services for families.”
The philosophy that drives Tasha’s work boils down to this: “Take a moment for someone else, because somebody took a moment for you.” Being a leader and a role model is essential for everyone to succeed, and it’s a cyclical process.
“Being a strong leader is a gift that has to be continuously given to others,” said Tasha. “I didn’t get strong by myself; I had positive, influential people around me. I still need additional strong leaders to keep pushing me. As long as that keeps happening, I’ll get stronger and stronger.”