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Jessica Puglisi Sanders

Community Relations Director, 
Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center 
Wheeling, 30

Community relations work offers gifts to Jess Puglisi-Sanders.

After Puglisi-Sanders earned a degree in journalism with a concentration in public relations from West Virginia University in 2004, she went to work as an admissions counselor at Bethany College in the Northern Panhandle.

"I was in the New Students Services Office at WVU for my work study, which is their version of the admissions office," Puglisi-Sanders said. "Being able to continue what I did in work study in a legitimate job was really cool. My skills translated really well into my first paying gig."

Working in admissions allowed Puglisi-Sanders to travel the state as well as to gain some experience in events planning — which turns out to be a lot of what she does in her current position.

She took a position at the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center in Wheeling in 2007, starting as the administrative assistant in community relations. That exposed her to many areas of the organization's work raising money to help children with special needs whose families are uninsured or underinsured. As she worked increasingly with constituent groups, she transitioned to outreach coordinator and, with staff turnover, her current position of director of community relations.

Puglisi-Sanders takes a broad view of the community of supporters and potential supporters and organizes a variety of events in order to draw supporters of all kinds.

"In September we have a cookie sale, the ‘Cookie Caper,'" she said by way of example. "We get thousands of cookies donated from hundreds of bakers. If that's their only interaction with us, baking cookies for Cookie Caper, and they feel good about it, they're as important as a donor who gives a check every year. … That's a gift I have in my position — seeing how much people care and never discounting someone's willingness to make a difference."

Puglisi-Sanders is president of the St. Clairsville (Ohio) Sunrise Rotary Club and serves on the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce.

She lives in Wheeling with her husband, who is a police officer for the city, and their cats. Her parents and twin brothers also live in the area.