PITTSBURGH (December 7, 2020) – McAuley Ministries, Pittsburgh Mercy’s grant-making foundation and also one of the largest private philanthropic organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania, announces Marisol Wandiga Valentin as its new executive director. Wandiga Valentin succeeds Michele Rone Cooper who, following an accomplished 37-year career with Pittsburgh Mercy, is retiring effective December 31, 2020.
“From a pool of many impressive candidates, the search committee chose Marisol,” stated Sister Susan Welsh, RSM, chairperson of the McAuley Ministries Board of Directors and co-chairperson of the search committee, which was comprised of McAuley Ministries board members, including several Sisters of Mercy and a community representative. “With 24 years of experience, Marisol has spent her time helping organizations develop innovative ways to improve communities. This experience and her world view are a good fit for McAuley Ministries as we continue to meet the needs in our service area. We welcome Marisol to the leadership of McAuley Ministries,” Sister Welsh added.
Wandiga Valentin, was most recently compliance, privacy, and risk officer for Pittsburgh Mercy, a community-based health and human service nonprofit serving people and communities who are most vulnerable, including persons with behavioral health (mental health and substance use) challenges, intellectual disabilities, and persons who are experiencing homelessness.
“Marisol has dedicated much of her professional career to improving the health and well-being of communities through the empowerment of people and community partnerships,” stated Tony Beltran, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Mercy. “Marisol’s extensive experience in working with diverse, underserved, and marginalized communities will continue the excellent foundation that the Sisters of Mercy, McAuley Ministries, and Michele have laid in collaboration with our community partners in the Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland neighborhoods.”
Wandiga Valentin will assume responsibilities as executive director of McAuley Ministries effective January 11, 2021.
Wandiga Valentin is a former program officer at Global Links, a medical relief and development organization dedicated to supporting health improvement initiatives in resource-poor communities and promoting environmental stewardship in the U.S. health care system.
Wandiga Valentin currently serves as a board member and chairperson of Racial Equity and Social Justice Council for The Provider Alliance. She served previously as president of the Latin American Cultural Union for three years and on the governance committee of the Society for Contemporary Crafts for five years. In 2015, Café con Leche awarded Wandiga Valentin a Fuerza Latinx Award for her leadership and work with the Latinx community. She is a former board adviser and volunteer at Acculturation for Justice, Access, and Peace Outreach (AJAPO).
Wandiga Valentin earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degree in international business marketing and a minor in German at Duquesne University. She also earned a certificate in global development and humanitarian aid at La Roche College (now LaRoche University).
Wandiga Valentin served as a pastoral council member of St. Benedict the Moor Parish in the Hill District from 2004-2013, where she and her family continue to worship. She is also a member of North Hills Ebony Women. She resides with her family in Ross Township, Pa.
Rone Cooper announced her planned retirement to her board and to McAuley Ministries’ community partners in July. As McAuley Ministries Foundation’s first executive director, Rone Cooper was responsible for the start-up of the foundation, where she managed the foundation’s annual grant-making budget of $3.7 million. Under Rone Cooper’s leadership and since its inception in 2008, McAuley Ministries has awarded an impressive portfolio of 820 grants and community support totaling more than $36.3 million. The grants have promoted health and wellness, community and economic development, education, capacity building, and legacy programs of the Sisters of Mercy. View a list of recent grants awarded by year at www.mcauleyministries.org.
“I will forever be grateful to have been part of this ministry with the Sisters of Mercy,” stated Rone Cooper, who is exploring opportunities to volunteer in the nonprofit sector and in education, two of her passions throughout her career. When announcing her plans to McAuley Ministries’ community partners earlier this year, Rone Cooper thanked them: “When McAuley Ministries began this work, we indicated that we view this work as a partnership – a partnership with other foundations and the community organizations that are doing challenging work. They are the ones housing those who are homeless; mentoring and inspiring children after school; providing books to families who may not be able to afford them; repairing houses for seniors so their homes are healthy and safe; providing job training to lift residents out of poverty; making sure that children are fed on weekends; helping immigrant families to thrive in their new home; supporting families who are in crisis; advocating for equitable development; and so much more,” stated Rone Cooper. “Thank you for being such an important part of my journey. May God continue to bless you,” she added.
About McAuley Ministries
Named in honor of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, McAuley Ministries is the grant-making foundation of Pittsburgh Mercy. McAuley Ministries awards grants to nonprofit organizations which focus on the Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland communities, historically served by the Sisters of Mercy, and to organizations sponsored by and/or affiliated with the Sisters. It awards approximately $3.5 million in grants annually. To learn more about McAuley Ministries and the initiatives it supports, visit www.mcauleyministries.org.
About Pittsburgh Mercy
Pittsburgh Mercy is a person-centered, population-based, trauma-informed community health and wellness provider and the region’s only Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). We reach out and offer help – and hope – to some of our community’s most vulnerable populations: people who have physical and behavioral health challenges; intellectual disabilities; and people who are experiencing addiction, homelessness, abuse, and other forms of trauma. Our mission is to be a compassionate and transforming, healing presence within our communities. Pittsburgh Mercy is a member of Trinity Health and serves in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy. With annual operating revenue of $110 million, Pittsburgh Mercy is one of the largest health and human service nonprofit organizations and employers in Southwestern Pennsylvania. We serve more than 33,000 people annually in 60+ locations and employ 1,400 colleagues.
Editor’s note: Photos of Marisol Wandiga Valentin and Michele Rone Cooper were distributed with this news release.