Written by Jennifer Van Gilder.
Dana Marruffo, Founder of Buzz Public Relations and this year’s President’s Award honoree, has been instrumental in promoting individuals and positioning companies as leaders in their respective markets for over 16 years.
An active volunteer in her local community, Dana currently sits on the Board of WCA/Freelance Austin and SMBAustin; is a founding member of the Association for Women in Technology Austin; has served as VP of Membership for the Austin Advertising Federation; has participated as an acting communications committee member for the Race for the Cure; and regularly speaks and mentors at her alma mater, UT Austin.
We were excited to take some time to speak with Dana in spite of her busy schedule and share some of her great advice with you!
WCA: Please share about the various volunteer roles you have held with WCA.
Co-logistics chair for Banner Brunch
Banner scholarship selection committee
Co-Chair for Freelance Austin
Part of student mentor
VP freelance programming/co-chair
WCA: What have you/do you find most rewarding in serving at WCA?
I love helping our members grow professionally – connecting members to other members. I love interacting and having meaningful conversations with everyone. Sitting on the board and brainstorming and collaborating with such intelligent, strong, and empowering women is priceless.
WCA: What aspect(s) do you find most challenging?
I treat serving on a board as a job or client; I give it my full attention regardless of it being a volunteer role. Making sure nothing gets dropped, ensuring that everyone has what they need to run the organization smoothly and deliver best benefits to our members, all while bridging the gap between Freelance Austin and WCA – we are a special interest group of WCA and a lot of people aren’t aware of this.
We also went through a big transition last year and we combined our databases and websites. It’s a long-term, value-driven initiative (it was a big bear), but we did it and made sure it ran smoothly. That was a big challenge – to get everyone through that transition. But it’s a natural progression when you grow to have this synergy….it was all for benefit of membership – I’m honored to be a part of that.
WCA: How has your experience with other non-profits transferred over in your work with WCA?
From a Board position perspective: my work with WCA in general has been high level. I’ve sat on a few boards during my career asking questions, being open to guidance, and listening to member feedback on what works, what doesn’t – it’s helped to translate these experiences to WCA….you start somewhere and you build, make it work as best as you can by putting those processes in place. Being open to constructive feedback and listening to members really helps me.
WCA: What is the best professional advice you have been given?
I’m huge into mentoring; I’m a mentor at my alma mater so I get quite a bit of these; with my own mentors I wouldn’t be where I am today.
- Find a mentor (or 2) and keep them!
- Don’t ever take anything personally!
- Don’t burn bridges!
What would be some words of professional/personal advice that you would give?
- Stay true to yourself and your values.
- Have a voice and share that voice.
- Never stop growing professionally and personally.
- Never let fear win. (I have a “Do one thing that scares you every day” magnet on my refrigerator.)
I’m an advocate of change; I get that from my mother – she’s very politically driven.
Who are your mentors/people whom you admire and why?
Pat Niekamp is the publisher of Texas CEO magazine. She previously sat on the Austin Advertising Federation board as President, and her leadership really enabled us to brainstorm and bring new things to the table. I admire her so much for her style. She’s a mentor to me, I turn to her for advice, direction, and validation. She always has the right things to stay.
Molly Ivins for her no-fear approach! She was one of my mom’s favorites – her feisty voice and patriotic stance never wavered; I relate to her strength, her empowerment. The hell-raiser that she was! What I would do to have her at my dinner table!
Ann Richards for her effect on the role of women in politics for many generations. I met her when I was in college at UT Austin and that was a priceless moment meeting her and shaking her hand…
What does the Banner Brunch theme “Opportunity Blooms” mean to you?
To me, “opportunity blooms” symbolizes endurance, change, growth and that there’s always a door of opportunity to make successes happen. We just have to find them and see them – it’s always blooming; it’s just waiting for you!
Come and learn more about Dana at Banner Brunch, taking place April 8, 2017 at the Westin Austin at the Domain. We’ll be celebrating Dana for her contribution to WCA as well as several of Austin’s other great communicators. Register today!