Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Nomination: Gina Cuttone

For Gina Cuttone, being emphatic about the needs of others in the world, giving back to her community and touching the lives of those she knows and doesn’t know are a way of life.

“I’m just truly lucky to be able to serve others in a community that fortunately allows us to live good lives, earn paychecks, have homes, raise our children and enjoy the blessings of the Central Valley and the United States,” says Gina.

The lifelong volunteer, president of three boards and dedicated mother finds a way to do it all.

Gina is the owner of Barthuli & Associates Insurance Services, Inc., a brokerage firm that specializes in individual and employer group benefits and insurance. She has worked for the company for 25 years and became its full proprietor a decade ago.

Gina’s support of our community began in her youth by volunteering for various local organizations with her parents. Gina carried this mindset into adulthood, committing herself to leading groups near to hear heart to success.

“A community reflects its residents and their commitment to making life better for everyone,” she says. “So when we all give back, we ensure it continues to take care of all its residents including the most vulnerable ones. When we all join in to support each other, that’s when we truly improve the lives of the people in our community better.”

The way Gina express her gratitude for all that she has enjoyed in life is by paying it forward – that concept has become her philosophy and mission in life. She not only pays it forward, she also encourages others to do the same. Gina’s influence is so strong that many of her siblings, cousins and colleagues become strong advocates for whatever cause she’s supporting– all stemming from Gina’s passion to help those in need.

Gina’s commitment to service and instilling philanthropy in the youth of our community is evident in the way she raises her son Vito, a senior in high school. Vito and his friends volunteering for their school’s sporting programs; and on the weekends, they spend their time and energy to help others at nonprofits. “Our children observe what we do and how we live,” she says. “Instilling the habit and value of helping others at a young age is something parents can teach by doing.”

Gina brings the business skills she has acquired in her career, her corporate savvy, knowledge, experience and strong sense of entrepreneurship to the many organizations she serves and has served in the Central Valley and beyond. Countless people in her community and at organizations that serve larger communities coast-to-coast reap the benefit of Gina’s keen sense of efficiency, productivity and results-oriented business practices.

“Gina does so much for so many people, and she does it all with grace, thoughtfulness and a can-do attitude,” says David Ashjian, Director of Promotions at the Ronald McDonald House, which Gina currently serving as Board President for a second terms. “Gina’s tremendous effort to support our organization and other Valley nonprofits encourages other to follow her lead and support our community.”

Gina’s belief in the importance of supporting children and families during their time of need is what brought her to the Ronald McDonald House Charities in 2011.

“Gina moves with the understanding that every board meeting, every fundraiser, each grueling event, and time-consuming committee meeting are all for the sake of supporting children,” says Alene Istanboulian, Director of Development and Communications at the Ronald McDonald House. “She understands the direct impact her commitment and concern have on families from near and far, experiencing some of the most difficult days in their lives and during their greatest hour of need.”

Gina’s leadership skills are evident in her innate ability to lead small and large nonprofits, take-on immediate or long term community service projects and step-up to the true meaning of community leader and community organizer. Gina ignites both individuals and entire organizations to support others by giving their time, talent and treasure to make our community a better place.

“Relationships are everything to me,” Gina says, never fully accepting the credit for her tireless efforts. “I’m able to do this because of my team, with the support of people around me.”

Whether it be early morning, one-on-one meetings strategizing for the success of a collegiate Panhellenic philanthropy fundraiser, lunchtime coaching sessions with a new employee or navigating the waters of long, post-workday board meetings, all of Gina’s hours of the day are committed to leading her company to excellence and ensuring multiple Fresno nonprofits fulfill their mission or service to community with excellence.

Gina’s lifelong commitment to community service began when she was studying at Fresno State, where she earned two degrees in Psychology and Speech Communication. She says her alma mater made a significant impact on her career and helped her accomplish her goals, so she has given back by serving as the Advisor of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority for the past 20 years.

Since 1998, Gina has worked with these young women in multiple capacities including leadership, marketing, education and more. She’s crafting well-rounded young adults and sharing the gems of her wisdom with the future of our city by encouraging them, supporting them and coaching them through their formative years.

“I see myself in them,” she says. “They have so much energy, so much hope, and they need to be given insight from those of us who have made it in our careers and in business. Just by talking to these young scholars, you open up worlds that they would’ve never imagined by only listening to lectures from their professors.”

Gina was also an active member in the LARCS from 1994-2009. She helped raise money for the organization which serves adults who are developmentally disabled. Her support for LARCS has mean her direct support for ARC Fresno, the Special Olympics and the Lori Ann Infant Program. She has also made it possible for LARC to provide scholarships to students majoring in programs to help the developmentally disabled at Fresno State and Fresno Pacific University.

Gina also supports the State Center Community College Foundation, which makes it possible for so many people in the Central Valley to pursue higher education. She’s been a board member since 2011 and is serving her second year as president.

“I am committed to carrying out the State Center Community College Foundation’s mission to directly enhance the access to and quality of community education for the students and faculty of the State Center Community College District,” she says, not just talking the talk but walking the walk by supporting educational endeavors in her community with her time, expert knowledge about the business world and the commitment to help nurture a new generation of young, community-involved citizens.

As a member of Catholic Charities since 2009, Gina raises money to serve the poor in Fresno and its surrounding counties. But for Gina, it’s so much more than raising money. It’s about making a difference.

“I’ve adopted the same family for years — a single mom with 5 children — assisting them all with their education, staying strong in their faith, supporting them with scholarships, community resources to stay healthy, and making good choices so they are whole today and tomorrow as successful adults.”

Gina is not only committed to youth in America but also the elderly and its senior citizens. She has served on the Valley Caregiver Resource Center board since 2011. The Center offers a comprehensive array of services to assist the elderly and their families through the challenges that accompany the aging process.

Far and beyond the Ronald McDonald Home, Fresno State, State Center Community College Foundation and Catholic Charities, Gina’s long list of contributions including serving as the  Chair for the ‘Go Red For Women’ event with the American Heart Association in 2013, and she served on the event organizing committee in 2013 and 2014. Gina also gives time and money to various organizations through her business to many organizations including the SPCA, the American Cancer Society, Fresno Housing Education Corps, Central Valley Veterans, just to name a few. Gina has also shared her successes and best practices with her counterparts in other regions of the U.S., so that other nonprofits also serve their communities better and more efficiently.

Gina Cuttone is truly committed to bettering the lives of others and works tirelessly to see those around her lead better lives. Her work in fundraising and leadership will leave a great impact for years to come. She deserves the Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Valley Chapter’s Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award, because Gina’s tenacious determination to volunteering, service to community and successful history in leading and fundraising for nonprofits have greatly changed, empowered and allowed her local, regional and national communities to grow and take care of all those who call them home.