EMBA student’s passion for volunteering leads to US Service Award
Published: December 10, 2021 / Author: Brandi Wampler
In April 2021, 40 Executive MBA students, faculty and staff from Mendoza’s College of Business met apart from their typical day. Instead of classes and projects, the group volunteered to assemble 100 “blessings backpacks” for the children of the Boys and Girls Club of St. Joseph County.
Mary Tedesco (EMBA ’22) helped organize the event along with Aesha Browne and Krista Parin, all co-chairs of the Social Services Committee for the South Bend EMBA Class of 2022. Together, they coordinated and set up a backpack assembly line that filled each bag with donated items such as deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash and hair ties. The goal was simple: to help local children.
“It was a pleasure to give back as a cohort to the local community here in South Bend,” said Tedesco. “When business skills and competencies are applied to volunteering, there is greater potential for impactful service projects that truly make a difference and change lives.”
This is just one example of how Tedesco’s passion for volunteering has come to life, and her classmates noticed. This constant drive to help others led Leasha West (EMBA ‘22) to nominate Tedesco for the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award, a lifetime achievement of more than 4,000 hours of unpaid acts of volunteer service.
On November 11, 2021, West surprised Tedesco by presenting her with the award in front of her fellow EMBA classmates and professors. Founded in 2003 by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, the prestigious award aims to “recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity” and honor those whose service has positively impacted communities.
“It would be an understatement to say that I was shocked – shocked and affectionately grateful,” said Tedesco. “The generous consideration of my EMBA classmates will be cherished by me forever. We have an outstanding cohort, and I cherish every moment we spend together at Notre Dame.”
For the past 10 years, Tedesco has been a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution – a nonprofit, nonpolitical volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism. She serves the DAR in multiple volunteer leadership roles at the local, state and national levels, including as the national chair of the Service to America Committee, state organizing secretary for the Massachusetts DAR and chapter regent of the Hannah Winthrop Chapter in Boston, MA.
Additionally, she holds several other volunteer leadership positions such as councilor of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and member of the Bishop Fenwick High School President’s Council in Peabody, Massachusetts.
“Volunteering is part of my purpose. Growing up, my parents and grandparents supported nonprofits and volunteered in meaningful ways. This inspired me to want to help others and get involved with volunteer leadership. Giving back has brought an incredible amount of meaning to my life, and I’m thankful to my family for inspiring and encouraging me to do the same,” she said.
As for how her education supports her drive to volunteer, Tedesco believes the EMBA program’s collaborative approach to learning through teams has helped her refine her goal-setting and problem-solving skills while sharpening her understanding of interpersonal dynamics in a working environment – all of which are applicable to both business and volunteer service.
“What some may not realize is that volunteering gives us the opportunity to develop new business skills and competencies in a supportive, essentially risk-free environment. Impactful volunteer leadership often requires project management, delegation, leadership communication, strategic marketing and more,” said Tedesco. “The skills learned in the EMBA program can be applied not only to ‘Grow the Good in Business,’ but also to grow the good in the world.”