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Empowering the Youth of Today Through Community Involvement

Jul 22, 2019

Empowering the Youth of Today Through Community Involvement

James A. La Russo, GOCS Securities Processing Lead Specialist and CSR Ambassador, DTCC Jersey City, started his CSR journey three decades ago. He was identified by Jill Considine, former CEO of DTCC, as one of the 16 employee members in the first Diversity Council within DTCC, which eventually led to the formation of DTCC’s Business Professional Networks (ERGs). At that time, he was already involved with United Way, and now has been a United Way Captain for more than 30 years.

Moving forward to 2019, La Russo is the only original member of the Diversity Council still with DTCC. Apart from United Way, he also formed strong relationships with the Hudson Pride Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County, the Hudson Shelter, the Imperial Court of New York and God’s Love We Deliver. He has also hosted annual events at DTCC such as the DTCC Breast Cancer Awareness event and the Pancreatic Cancer event which raised lots of funds over the years. To date, La Russo has helped raise and matched funds in DTCC over the years with Annual Pride kick-off fundraisers and Celebration for the Youth Prom and Scholarship Fund of Hudson Pride Center amounting to more than $50,000.

In this article, La Russo talks about his CSR journey at DTCC.

Tell us about your CSR story?

I’ve been the Treasurer for the DTCC LGBTA ERG for the last seven or eight years, doing all the budget work and hosting events. At the same time, I’m the CSR Ambassador for DTCC Jersey City and we organize a lot of CSR events such as fundraisers and blood drives. We also bring in speakers to educate audiences in diversity training.

One of the events that we support annually is the Hudson Pride Center, specifically their youth program. This is an initiative very close to me because when I was growing up there was never a safe spot where we can be our authentic selves. I did not attend my own high school prom back then because there was no safe place for us or organizations that would welcome and accept us. Hudson County’s youth program creates that safe place for teenagers to be their true selves without worrying if they’ll get harassed. For five or six years, we have been supporting their program by organizing fundraisers and hosting annual prom events for their youth who can’t go to their own proms because of fear of being bullied or lack of money. It’s important for me to create that safe place for the youth in my community who need it.

We also organize office tours for them and they get to see that regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, a steady and successful career in finance is possible. We provide them with a chance to dream big – go to college, have a career – and an opportunity to be who they want to be or be better.

Because of the work that we do, I know I’m securing the future of my community by empowering the youth of today.

How has your experience in CSR helped you advance in your career?

Not only with my CSR ambassador experience but being an active participant in employee activities in general has tremendously advanced my career. I got to know more people in the organization since I’m their go-to person when it comes to setting up events in the Jersey City office. I’ve learned how to organize events and overall, I’m a better communicator because of it.

Why do you think employees should take the time to volunteer?

Volunteering is very rewarding. I’m very fortunate to have the support of DTCC to make smart use of my time in order to give back. When you give back, the rewards are much better. It gives me a lot of happiness and joy, knowing that I helped somebody and do something that will positively impact our community, now and in the future.

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