A newsmaker you should know: New leader wants nonprofit to continue for 100 more years
At 31, Erika Arbogast has accumulated enough experience in the nonprofit sector that, after a nationwide search, she has been selected as president of Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh.
Mrs. Arbogast, of Cranberry, assumed the role of president July 1.
"I've been incredibly lucky to have wonderful mentors along the way," she said, quick to downplay her achievements. In her new role, she will oversee the 100-year-old nonprofit, which has a staff of 110 and a $5.1 million operating budget.
The Mars native has never ventured too far from her roots. She began her career in 2001 at the Wesley Institute in Richland, where she worked until 2005.
"I started off part time, but then a full-time position opened up and I was able to keep expanding my duties and experience," she said. During her tenure, she became the clinical coordinator, supervising a staff of 150.
She then worked as program director at HAP Enterprises in Hopewell, a nonprofit that helps people with developmental disabilities achieve independence at home and in the community.
In 2006, she became vice president of programs at Life's Work of Western Pennsylvania in Uptown Pittsburgh. It was there that Mrs. Arbogast worked with Everett McElveen, president and CEO of the nonprofit, which helps people with disabilities overcome obstacles to employment.
"I learned so much from him," she said.
From 2005 to 2008, Mrs. Arbogast also served as a behavioral specialist consultant for Family Behavioral Resources in Richland, developing and implementing treatment plans for children with autism and supervising therapeutic staff support workers.
Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services offers training, youth programs and employment services to those who are visually handicapped. In addition to its headquarters in Homestead, the nonprofit has a location on the North Side.
"We serve an average of 1,100 to 1,200 individuals per year and provide preschool vision screening to an estimated 12,000 children per year through agency staff and trained volunteers," Mrs. Arbogast said.
In her role as president, Mrs. Arbogast hopes to expand the funding base for the nonprofit.
"With the way the economy has been, nonprofits have to learn to look at diversifying revenue streams in order to survive. This will be my top priority," she said.
"We have so many necessary services that it is imperative that we have the financial foundation to provide those services. In this economy, we need to know that if we lose one funding stream, we can still move ahead."
She is excited about the challenges of her new job.
"I want to ensure that we continue serving for another 100 years," she said.
First Published August 12, 2010 5:32 am