Behind the Scenes: Hero Fund welcomes director of operations with passion, purpose, and proficiency

Melissa Wade came to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in early September as the fund’s first-ever Director of Operations, bringing with her a wealth of non-profit experience.

“I am thrilled to join the Hero Fund staff. Honoring heroes for saving others is an exciting cause to serve, and I’m looking forward to contributing to the organization’s innerworkings to keep the Hero Fund as relevant and efficient as ever,” Wade said.

This newly created position will work closely with Fund President Eric Zahren and oversee the organization’s day-to-day operations including human relations, outreach, vendor relations, program and data management, and special projects.

“The Hero Fund has been awarding the Carnegie Medal for 118 years, and we continue to do that well,” said Zahren. “But Melissa joins a storied cause at a time of important change and pursuit of wider goals for the fund envisioned by Mr. Carnegie. Melissa has the vision and skillset to help us keep pace with new challenges as we continue to recognize and support civilian heroism in the 21st century.”

In her own words, she shares about what brought her to the Hero Fund:

At the beginning of my career, I thought I wanted to be a TV news reporter, so I did an internship at a TV station. Let’s just say that at the end of my internship that thought had vanished.

Fortunately for me, there was a position available at another station that would allow me to utilize my education and skills in a different capacity in the Marketing and Creative Services department.

That role was my introduction to many nonprofit organizations in and around the Pittsburgh region, and I’ve never left the nonprofit sector since. Since then, I’ve been blessed to have positions that were all connected in one way or another to nonprofit organizations that help people.

Those are the aspects of my career that have meant the most to me.

When I learned about the operations position at the Hero Fund, it was truly a no-brainer. It immediately resonated with my core beliefs and desire to help others.

This organization celebrates individuals who have sacrificed themselves for a complete stranger, while providing much needed help to those affected by the incident. It’s a role where I’m able to combine my professional experience of working for profit, non-profit, and government organizations with what I now believe is my purpose.

It is an honor for me to serve as the Director of Operations for the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. For me, it combines some truly wonderful attributes of humanity. We often encounter
cases where the lives of entire families have been changed all because of one incident. I am as grateful to be a part of this organization as the recipients are to receive awards from the Commission. I’m excited to be a part of this work, all that it does and all that it will do.