Woman to Watch: Raelyn Allen determined to overcome
by: Arlene Hisiger
By the time she was 31, Raelyn Allen had survived a serious car crash, earned multiple academic degrees and became PathStone Corporation’s deputy director of grants and programs.
“Raelyn is tenacious in her endeavors, whether representing PathStone or in her role as a volunteer in the community to support critical services for families in need of safe, affordable housing,” says Susan Boss, executive director, The Housing Council at PathStone.
Recently awarded the Super Hero Award from the Community Asset Partnership Network, Allen admits to having a passion to help others since childhood.
An “ah-ha” moment for her occurred after being introduced at one of her volunteer venues as someone who brings in millions of dollars to the community.
“Sometimes I get so caught up in writing grants, meeting deadlines and advocating on behalf of those in need, I forget that I’m part of the solution,” says Allen.
In less than a month after being appointed to the board of RESOLVE of Greater Rochester, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals and communities to break the cycle of domestic violence, Allen assumed the role of co-chair of “Domestic Violence Stinks” — a campaign that employs a creative approach to a disturbing phenomenon.
“By implementing this campaign, I aim to both increase funding and community awareness of this pressing problem,” Allen says.
RESOLVE’s executive director Allison O’Malley says, “Raelyn is a dynamic and committed young professional who is determined to leave this world a better place than she found it.”
Personal: 31, single, lives in Rochester.
Occupation: Deputy of housing grants and programs. I am responsible for grant writing for PathStone’s housing counseling line of business, which includes: low income first-time home buyers, foreclosure prevention, veteran housing, rapid rehousing and other affordable housing programs.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in history and women’s studies, West Virginia University and a master’s degree in women’s history, University at Buffalo.
My average work day: I begin with prioritizing my to-do list. My job consists of interfacing with funders, creating comprehensive grant applications for submission across multiple housing programs, securing funding for vital programming, and keeping up with the needs of the community through research in order to help shape funding streams.
Community activities and achievements: Co-chair the Connect Division of the United Way Young Leaders Club Advisory Council, facilitate the South East Neighborhood Safety Net serving residents in need, and received a Community Super Hero Award from the Community Asset Partnership Network.
Biggest challenge I overcame: I was in a terrible car accident my second year of college that seriously injured both me and members of my family. I had to take off an entire semester of school due to the injuries. I was afraid this would affect my graduation date. Once I was cleared to go back to college, I took summer courses the rest of my time in undergraduate school. I graduated with two bachelor’s degrees despite the accident, and was accepted into graduate school where I received my master’s degree.
Who mentored me: Catherine Cerulli, associate professor of psychiatry at URMC, who daily advocates for the rights of women; County Legislator Karla Boyce, who tirelessly supports the youth of our community; and Susan Boss, executive director of PathStone Corporation’s Housing Council, who oversees the provision of housing opportunities for families in need. In different ways, all three have taught me perseverance, patience and to believe in myself.
What I’m reading: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.
My favorite app: Soundcloud.
My advice for someone starting out: Don’t be hard on yourself. Work hard and stay the course. Starting your career is scary. Believe in the path you are on.
Arlene Hisiger is a freelance writer in the Rochester area.