From broadcast news, to healthcare, to community arts, Sue Nigra ’89 thought she had used her communications skills in just about every field she could think of – until she found a new outlet in one of the Capital Region’s most-loved organizations. Now, as director of development for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region, she’s started a whole new chapter of her amazing career.
What do you in a typical day?
I’m relatively new to my position, so I’m still learning about Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region. I’m honored to be part of such a beloved organization.
A typical day includes donor and sponsor outreach, as well as researching grants and other fundraising opportunities. Right now, our team is working on upcoming events, which is a lot of fun. Of course, these efforts have a serious purpose. They allow us to provide a haven of comfort, love, hope, and support for critically sick children and their families … all free of charge. We couldn’t do it without the overwhelming outpouring of support from our community.
At the end of the day, it’s satisfying to know our team is able to keep families together during a very difficult time in their lives.
How did you find your career path?
I often tell young people it’s quite possible their career paths will change through the years as they continue to grow, evolve, and mature … and that’s OK!
At Saint Rose, I studied public communications with the goal of becoming a broadcast journalist. That dream became a reality, and for 17 years I worked in the local news market at WTEN and WRGB until 2006. I’m grateful I experienced television during this time … before the Internet changed everything. As most journalists do, I worked every conceivable shift: morning, noon, and night, and learned valuable lessons: Deadlines! Teamwork! Prioritize!
Lessons learned in TV would come in handy as my career path took a turn into communications. First, I worked as director of communications at Bellevue Woman’s Hospital, and then as director of communications and outreach at the New York State chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
I enjoyed working in healthcare, but, as fate would have it, the arts would be the next stop on my career path when I agreed to serve as interim director to help launch the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts, which was named after my late father. Located in Fulton County, the center provides access to the arts and educational opportunities for people of all ages, abilities, and artistic skills. I found that the experience I had gained in my career, ranging from video production and event planning to writing newsletters and website development, would be put to great use. While there, I picked up new skills, such as leadership, fundraising, and working with volunteers.
Each success, mistake, skill, and life experience throughout my career has helped me find the path to where I am today … and I wouldn’t change a thing.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy starting the day with a run, which helps clear my mind. In my downtime, I like to watch films, especially documentaries. If the weather is nice, I’ll head out to the patio and read all weekend long! Recently, I finished “The Unexpected Spy” by Tracy Walder and “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett. I’m getting ready to re-read “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou, which I found to be absolutely fascinating.
What do you like the most about Saint Rose?
I really appreciated the individual attention I received at Saint Rose. Whether I was in the radio studio or putting together a video project, I never felt lost in a sea of students or self-conscious about speaking up in class. Of course, there is also the fact that I met my husband Joe (Gambino ’90), my first week there – so I’ll say that’s what I liked the most about my experience at Saint Rose!
Why should alums continue to engage with their alma mater?
I think it’s a gratifying way of giving back to a school that gave us so much knowledge, memories, and joy.
– By Irene Kim