Matchmaking in Action

A letter from Evan Segal, Co-Chairman and Co-President of the Segal Family Foundation:

One of the biggest hurdles we successfully overcame was thinking about our philanthropic work in terms of impact, not just dollars. From the moment we started working with Marla as our Philanthropic Advisor, we knew our giving was going to become so much more meaningful and measurable. A great example is our relationship with the Latino Community Center in Pittsburgh (LCC).

In 2017, Tracy and I were mortified by the pictures of children in cages at the border, being treated inhumanly. Before engaging Marla as our philanthropic advisor, we would have used the familiar “checkbook philanthropy” and written several sizable checks to organizations in the immigration space around the country. That did not feel like it was enough, nor would it result in the real, tangible impact that we would be able to support through additional non-monetary skills (knowledge, social capital, etc). Knowing that we needed to react differently to this crisis, we engaged Marla to vet organizations in Pittsburgh dedicated to supporting the Latino Community and she came back to us with a well curated list. The true front runner for us, based on our unique funding style, was the LCC. Marla reached out to Rosamaria Cristello, the Founder and Executive Director of the LCC on our behalf. She asked Rosamaria our signature questions of ”what was keeping her up at night” , “how can we help?” and “if resources were no object, what would you be accomplishing?”. What we found were not just awe inspiring answers but a true angel on earth that has led to a lifelong friendship.

I am an Immigrant
Rosamaria del Carmen Cristello was uprooted from her childhood home in Guatemala, separated from her family, and forced to raise herself alongside her sister. It is why she has dedicated herself to a life of helping others, both at home and abroad… While the community is Rosamaria’s favorite part about Guatemala, she has found her own family here in the U.S. as well. “It took a village to really get me to where I’m at.”

Marla worked closely with Rosamaria over the next many years as a consultant and funder. She developed a strategic growth plan for the LCC and facilitated Board Retreats, she helped them expand their development efforts, guided them through a nonprofit merger that dramatically increased the size and scope of the organization and brought in friends that helped to find a new location. Marla talks to Rosamaria regularly – as a friend, mentor and advisor – helping her through difficult, often unimaginable challenges faced by a community often under attack in America. As part of her engagement with other foundations, Marla introduced other Funders, which has resulted in new grants that have tripled our own funding. Our unequivocable support of Marla and her unwavering commitment to Rosamaria has had a special “multiplier” effect. It has served as a catalyst and enabled the LCC to gain the trust and financial support from additional funders, resulting in their ability to help so many more families.

While the Segal Family Foundation through our work with Marla certainly can’t take credit for the LCC’s success, it is certainly worth mentioning that the LCC went from 2 and a half employees to 40 and from $300,000 to 3 million since our work together began. But most importantly for us, we have connected deeply to Rosamaria, her passionate staff and to the families that they serve. The joy that we receive from these relationships and the knowledge of impact that we are having is beyond measure.

– Evan Segal