From her high school experiences organizing the local Relay for Life and volunteering for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s youth review team; to her college days of chairing philanthropy events for her University sorority, OLSH Vice President for Advancement, Cheryl Karashin, has always had a passion for service and helping others.
“I never knew that I could make a career out of this; it was just something I was naturally drawn to,” Cheryl said. “I’ve always enjoyed helping people and working for good causes.”
Cheryl attended Duquesne University and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education Social Studies. However, after completing her student teaching, Cheryl realized that teaching wasn’t her passion.
She found an opportunity to continue her passion for non-profit work with the Maronda Foundation as she became a mentor for the Youthtowne Advanced Scholars program. Working in this position for 8 years, Cheryl also cultivated a relationship with OLSH and became a volunteer for the OLSH Auctions.
In 2008, Cheryl saw her opportunity to move into a fundraising position as OLSH posted an opening for a director of advancement. After much consideration and with the encouragement of her then boss Tim O’Sullivan, Cheryl left the Maronda Foundation and became the first OLSH Director of Advancement.
Cheryl worked at OLSH until 2013, and later had the opportunity to work in advancement at her college alma mater, Duquesne University. After several years working to increase annual gifts to the University, she realized that she felt removed from and missed being involved with the student life of the University.
“My office was off campus and I did not feel a part of the difference I was making,” she said.
Cheryl returned to OLSH in July 2019 to her current position of Vice President for Advancement to have the opportunity to not only make an impact but also to see it in action firsthand.
One of Cheryl’s proudest accomplishments upon returning to OLSH was expanding the financial aid program from providing 45% to up to 75% of tuition for families. This significant project was a huge undertaking, but Cheryl was driven by her own personal commitment to affordable Catholic education.
“It is so important to me that families know a Catholic education can be within reach for them. I always wanted to attend Catholic school, but my parents never thought it was a financial possibility for us,” Cheryl said. “If there is a kid like me who really wants to go to Catholic School, I want to make sure that it can be a possibility for them.”
It may not have been a straight path to her current position, but she knows that God had a plan for bringing her back to OLSH.
“I am a strong believer that God had a plan for me and that the places He put me in prepared me for where I am today. I didn't see the path then, but looking back it is so clear to me,” Cheryl said.
Cheryl met her husband Rick while in school at Duquesne University and will be celebrating 20 years of marriage this year. Their daughter, Sadie, is in 5th grade at Archangel Gabriel School.
Cheryl and her family have many family hobbies including hiking, traveling, and all things Disney - from pin trading to visiting Mickey in Florida each year. The Karashins also have a goal to visit all 50 states as a family; they have been to 18 states so far and have several trips planned for after the pandemic.
“I would definitely consider myself a lifelong learner and I try to incorporate that love into our travels,” Cheryl said. “I enjoy learning about the history of the places we go and sharing that with my daughter too.”
Cheryl also is involved with non-profit fundraising as a hobby, especially with the Multiple Sclerosis Society. She has a personal connection to the foundation as she herself lives with MS. However, Cheryl sees her disease as a gift in both her personal and professional life.
“Having MS gave me the ability to ask for help,” Cheryl said. “I understand the feeling of what it is like to accept and offer help to other people. That is part of why I feel so compelled to succeed in my job. I know that everyone has a struggle and you just don’t know what they could be going through.”
Cheryl feels blessed to use her passion for fundraising in her role at OLSH and hopes to continue working here until her retirement.
“For me, the passion for fundraising comes very naturally,” Cheryl said. “It’s so important that Catholic education is available to people and I want to be a part of seeing that continue for a long time.”