Emily Rusch is January Employee of the Month

Emily Rusch, with Mason President Ángel Cabrera, said her work as a development associate in the College of Visual and Performing Arts "supports the next generation of artists." Photo by Kim Coryell.

The timing was perfect.

Less than a week before moving from part-time to full-time employment at George Mason University, Emily Rusch learned she also was selected as January’s Employee of the Month.

“It’s been kind of a banner year for my career here at Mason,” said the development associate in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, whose job classification changed on Dec. 17.

Rusch, who began working at the college in September 2016, helps with all aspects of fundraising and is responsible for the management of the ARTS by George! and Off the Wall silent auctions.

Rusch creates donor solicitations, tracks sponsorships and engages with donors at Mason events. By using her design skills to improve the look of the college’s sponsorship forms, she reduced the need for outside designers, creating a substantial cost savings, said Susan Graziano, director of development at the College of Visual and Performing Arts and Rusch’s supervisor.

“She creates a positive environment for our office and all of those with whom she interacts, and [she] exemplifies the professional, self-motivated, helpful employee that makes Mason proud,” Graziano said.

“What we do allows the academic disciplines to have scholarship money that they can use to attract the most talented students,” Rusch said. “It’s great to see programs grow.”

Not content with the heavy lifting she does at the office, Rusch, who lives in Springfield, Virginia, with husband Bill and daughters Lillie, 14, and Sadie, 11, does it as well at the gym, with a personal best deadlift of 205 pounds.

It’s an activity Rusch began doing five years ago while working for an athletic training company owned by friend Sarah Walls, a former assistant coordinator of sports performance at Mason.

“It definitely helps with stress relief,” Rusch said. “It also keeps the aches and pains away.”

How she got here:

After having my daughters, I worked from home as a consultant in nonprofit communications and event planning. As they got older, I started to look for a job outside the home and luckily found a job at Mason that uses skills that I’ve learned in all my past work experiences.

Best day on the job:

I love our Off the Wall event every spring. It supports scholarships and showcases the amazing work of the students and also offers guests interactive experiences like creating collaborative murals and using VR [visual reality] technology. It’s tons of fun. My husband and daughters come every year, and they love it.

What she likes best about working at Mason:

I love knowing that my work here supports the next generation of artists. The scholarship funds I help raise enable the College of Visual and Performing Arts to attract incredibly talented students. I’m constantly blown away by the work that our students produce. I’ve also got the best coworkers at Mason.

What she likes doing when not working:

I love spending time with my husband and my daughters. I also try to find time to read and garden.