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Raizing the Roof to Build a Future for Children

 Danielle Dal Cortivo

Sometimes the smallest roles can lead to career changing moments.

This was the case for Danielle Dal Cortivo, who after working at a consulting company in Canberra as the 'chief filing and hole punching officer', found the key to sparking her love for hard work and fulfilling life goals.

After studying a Bachelor of Communications in Public Relations at the University of Canberra, Danielle spent the next 10 years working in various public service roles covering everything from STD's and HIV to illicit drugs, population health and mental health policy and programs. Her passion for public health began to grow, but she set it aside to focus on developing her own consultancy firm covering strategic business planning, communications and business development.

I absolutely believe every role has provided invaluable experience, knowledge and the opportunity to meet extraordinary people along the way.

While the work was satisfying, there was no denying that there was a much bigger world outside of the government and she was ready for a new challenge. Resigning from the comforts of the public service, she took the plunge and made the change to the non-for-profit sector, taking on the role of CEO of The Asthma Foundation and founding the 'raize the roof' charity.

Raizing the Roof

raize the roof was conceived by Danielle and her brother Lincoln, having both experienced the loss of friends to serious illness at a young age.  After taking a volunteering trip with a friend to Tanzania, Danielle saw firsthand the hardships children in developing countries faced. This combined with her passion for public health, inspired Danielle to set up the raize the roof charity.

raize the roof is a volunteer-led organisation that supports children who are 'less lucky than most'. Designed to ensure that disadvantaged children all over the world are offered the care and resources to make the most out of their lives and reach their maximum potentials.

At first people thought my brother and I were completely crazy but the more we authentically shared our vision and what we wanted to achieve, the more people were keen to jump on board.

With no idea how to proceed, the team had their first meeting; creating their vision for the charity. Work soon commenced and the team focused on fundraising and creating an opportunity for the community to contribute, not just in a financial way.

The charity's main project involves building a Canberra community house. Built entirely from donated materials and labour, the house will be auctioned with all proceeds going directly to the Starlight Children's Foundation in the ACT and SOS Children's Villages in Botswana. To date raize the roof has secured land to build on through the ACT Government's Land Rent Scheme, has raised $125,000 from fundraising, events and donations and has more than 50 volunteers contributing to the Charity House project.

 Charity House Project

Balancing Act

Juggling a charity and full-time work is no small feat. Danielle credits her balancing act to communication, support and personal time.  

"Communication is really important to ensure everyone stays up-to-date. We're lucky to have an extraordinary network of family and friends that are just as passionate about seeing the project completed. My life has become a vibrant mix of craziness and busyness, but I'd have it no other way. I've learnt that procrastination is NEVER an option. However it can't always be about work and no play, so I'm conscious to ensure I make time for the things that bring me joy and really nourish me like friends, family, fun and exercise"

That's not to say everything has progressed smoothly. Stepping into the unknown uncovers more problems than one.

I think the biggest challenge is working out all the things that you don't know you don't know! There is a plethora of paperwork, requirements, reporting and bureaucratic processes to navigate. These were definitely daunting in the early stages!

"The other challenge is maintaining momentum and never giving up even when it seems the odds are stacked against you."

While there is still a while to go until the charity house is completed, Danielle already has her mind set on future goals.

She hopes to continue making a difference to the lives of children and working with the Starlight Children's Foundation. Not forgetting her dedication to the work of SOS Children's Villages in Botswana; she envisions herself eventually moving there to contribute to the implementation of projects and to transform the lives of orphaned children.

"I'm really committed to making a difference to the lives of children. We're keen to increase the ways seriously ill children and their families are supported by increasing resources and program capacity and by enabling more 'wishes' to be granted to these children."

Words of Wisdom

Danielle encourages students and new graduates to get involved in the public health/non-for-profit sector. She believes they are rapidly expanding industries that enable a diverse range of opportunities to innovate, create and make a difference; the perfect starting point for any career.

A huge advocate for volunteering, she continues to use talented interns from UC allowing them the opportunity to gain new skills and practical experience. Student volunteering also provides the Asthma Foundation ACT with fresh thinking, new ideas and an extra set of incredibly capable hands.

She leaves these words of advice…

Absolutely follow your heart and pursue what inspires you. Jump at any opportunity that comes up! Just say yes and see where it takes you.

Words by Stephanie Cossetto, images courtesy of Danielle Dal Cortivo

Danielle Dal Cortivo

Bachelor of Communication in Public Relations, University of Canberra (2007)

Danielle is the co-founder of raize the roof charity and CEO of The Asthma Foundation ACT. She graduated from the University of Canberra with a Bachelor of Communication in Public Relations in 2007.

A public-health advocate, she has over 10 years' experience in the public service and runs her own consulting company. She has volunteered in professional and humanitarian capacities in  Botswana and Tanzania.

You can connect with Danielle via LinkedIn or visit the raize the roof website

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