Women & Business: Monica Ruiz

Monica Ruiz is the Executive Director at Casa San Jose.

210225 Pghmag Wib Monica Dsc9073rfinalMonica Ruiz is executive director of Casa San Jose, a nonprofit community resource center that advocates for and empowers Latinos by promoting integration and self-sufficiency. Its mission is to “model a strong culture of acceptance and integration in which immigrants and other newcomers are treated with dignity, respect, and kindness and can freely preserve and celebrate their unique cultures while adapting to their new lives in the Greater Pittsburgh area.”

Ruiz, a Cleveland native, started at Casa San Jose as an intern and served as service coordinator and community organizer before becoming the executive director in July 2018. Ruiz, who has 13 years’ experience in the social service field working with the Latino population, has doubled Casa’s budget, programs and staff in under three years. Such growth has the organization looking for a larger space. “We are looking to have a home where the community can come and congregate, share stories, learn a skill, receive services and grow together.” Casa operates in Ambridge, Beechview and East Liberty; since Covid-19, all of its services are offered remotely.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden originally opened Casa San José (translation: House of St. Joseph) in 2013. It helps Latino immigrants who are learning English access services for children, youth and families. It has a staff of 15 people, three Sisters of St. Joseph, and more than 100 active volunteers. “I hope to be able to lead the organization to be self-sustainable and hand the organization to the next person that will continue to lead it,” Ruiz says. “My responsibility is to help create the leader who will do it.”

Ruiz received the 2019 Women of Influence Award from the Pittsburgh Business Times and the 2019 César Chávez Community Heroes Award, among other honors. She serves as a member of the Field Advisory Board for the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work, and is also active with the East Liberty Family Health Care Center and Pittsburgh United, to name a few.

What is the best advice Ruiz has ever received? “If you are not moving forward you are not idle, you are actually falling backwards.”

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