YPDaily: Corrine Rusch Drutz

Driving social change to better the lives of women across Canada by leveraging technology, creating mobile apps, and social media campaigns is what Corinne Rusch-Drutz does at the YWCA everyday. Corrine leads with a creative magnetism and desire to generate meaningful change. She is a PhD and a leader in the industry. Get to know Corinne Rusch-Drutz today on Notable. 

Notable: What is your Name and age?
Corinne: Corinne Rusch-Drutz, 39

Notable: What is the name of the company you work for and what industry is it in?
I work for YWCA Canada, the country’s oldest and largest women’s multi-service organization, where I am the Director of Communications & Membership Development. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. You can also follow me personally on Twitter.

Notable: Elevator Pitch (we just met on an elevator, we have 30 seconds together in the elevator, please describe your business):
We have 33 Member Associations operating in more than 400 districts and communities across the country. YWCA’s Turning Point Programs for Women™ – which address personal safety, economic security and well-being – reach out to 1 million women, girls and their families in nine provinces and one territory. Since 1870, YWCA Canada has worked to see women and girls empowered in a safe and equitable society

Notable: Why did you get involved in your industry, why this one, what was the inspiration?
Our mission is my inspiration. I work on national campaigns that change public policies that improve the lives of women and girls in lasting and meaningful ways. What could be better?

Notable: What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Corinne: I get to take an idea for social justice and create innovative products, programs and campaigns. Take for example YWCA’s Rose Campaign to End Violence Against Women, in which people can take part by emailing their MPs a virtual rose from the site, sharing the viral video and downloading tools to their own websites, blogs or social networks.

Notable: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Working to end violence against women is a tough slog; it’s not as though it’s a topic that gets a lot of air time. Over 50% of Canadian women will experience some kind of violence in their lives, the majority before they turn 25, and in most cases women know their abusers. Our culture tends to see the issue as something that happens elsewhere, as if we’ve taken care of it already and can now move on. That kind of complacency is really dangerous because you still see very high numbers of sexual assaults taking place on campus or in a dating context and without intervention and prevention we’re not going to see a change there.

Notable: Where do you see yourself going in 5 years?
Corinne: I hope that my career continues to build bridges and cross divides. I’d like to bring the not-for-profit and corporate worlds closer together using social innovation in a deeper way. I see myself creating spaces for various sectors to come together to create change – be it social justice, economic, health. I like to create inclusive partnerships that can model possibilities by envisioning and acting on new ideas. I’m not sure where that will put me, but I know I won’t be bored!

Notable: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Corinne: It’s always such a loaded question because it’s not as though life comes with any kind of navigable road map. I think it’s about giving yourself permission to jump into something new and seeing yourself as being able to do it well. If you’d asked me five years ago if I thought I’d be where I am now, I might have laughed. I worked so hard to get a PhD and I thought I’d become a professor and that’s what my life would be. When a tenure-track job didn’t materialize I had to reconfigure what I saw myself as capable of doing. Once I gave myself permission, many new paths opened up and I became more because I did more. It’s a bit scary but it’s quite liberating.

Notable: What is your greatest asset as it relates to business?
Corinne: Creatively working in partnership. People are most creative and work best when they play well with others.

Notable: What does success look like to you?
For me, it boils down to three things: satisfaction in knowing that you are making a difference; that you are leading from where you are (we have a skewed notion in our culture that only people who have been vested as “leaders” can lead, that’s just not true); and finally, happiness. This last one tends to get short shrift in our society and that’s a shame, as a result there are a lot of miserable people out there – despite their financial “success.” Enjoying your work, your family, your commitment to your community, that’s success.

Notable: What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Corinne: I recently launched an app for iPhone. It’s one of the most creative projects I’ve worked on. The YWCA Safety Siren is a free download in iTunes. The app functions like a modern-day rape whistle. It has a unique utility siren that can be activated by either pressing the safety button or shaking the device, setting off a screeching alarm. At the same time it auto-dials a friend and sends an email with the users’ geo-location on a map. But in addition to the emergency functionality, the app also offers a wealth of Canadian sexual health information, particularly focused on dating and hook ups, with tips and facts on safety, sexuality and wellbeing. Traditional sexual health information is not interactive, mobile or location based. The Safety Siren connects you to over 250 YWCAs, health and crisis resource centres, with the key information you need, when and how you need it. It’s been pretty exciting to take sexual health education to a new level of engagement, and in the process bring a 140-year-old organization to the fore of emerging platforms.

Notable: Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Working in the charitable sector, I work with a lot of different organizations. As a volunteer, I sit on the Board for Jewish Women International Canada which works to end violence against women. I also do quite a bit of pro-bono consulting on new media for non-profits. I was recently asked to sit on the advisory for Belinda Stronach’s G(irls) 20, which supports young women’s initiatives globally amongst other things, so I’m looking forward to getting involved in that work.

Notable: What is Notable to you?
I really like the idea of a virtual meeting place for young professionals crossing paths, creating energy and positive change. It’s all good.

Notable: Anything Else?
Corinne: There’s always something else. That’s part of the fun.