One big community

Lisa LaTrovato.

A few years ago, Lisa LaTrovato, BS ’99, was celebrating her 40th birthday with a fellow School of Management grad when she suggested they return to campus.

“We wanted to see what was going on,” says LaTrovato, who was giddy with all the changes at UB, a place she has loved since first setting foot on campus. “People say it’s a big school, but I never found that. It might be a lot of buildings, but it’s one big community.”

The visit inspired LaTrovato to get involved with the School of Management; she has served on its alumni association board of directors since 2015. LaTrovato, who is also a volunteer for the UB Alumni Association’s regional leaders program, says, “I’ve never looked back. Every time I attend an event at UB, I’m blown away by the talent of these young people coming into their own, and the work that UB is doing to foster that.”

LaTrovato, a first-generation college student, learned the value of education through her father, who spent his career in manufacturing. “I had a set of encyclopedias, and he told me the books ‘are what you’re going to use when you go to college’.” Receiving such a good education continues to fuel her passion for lifelong learning. “I truly believe that education is a great equalizer,” says LaTrovato. “Once someone has access to that, there’s no going back.”

LaTrovato cherished being part of UB’s diverse community of people from different countries and perspectives. And her coursework honed both her entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit. “I started a baseball card business when I was 11,” she says, “which helped pay for my two years at Monroe Community College and my first car.” 

After graduating, LaTrovato interned with Louise Slaughter, the late U.S. Representative whose district surrounded the Rochester, N.Y. area, an experience that led to an invigorating five years as her aide. 

From there she worked in fundraising for various high-profile organizations in Buffalo, continuing to learn and hone her skills, and most recently joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media to direct its leadership and legacy giving programs. 

LaTrovato is also the founder and president of the Fifty Fabulous Women Giving Circle, which supports small nonprofits with annual budgets of $1 million or less that serve women and children in Western New York. She was inspired to create the giving circle—a group of individuals who pool their funds and collectively decide where to donate them—after Slaughter died in 2018. “Her passing made me realize that it was my turn to reach my hand back and help the next generation up.”

Her commitment to UB includes making a meaningful bequest to bolster support of rising entrepreneurs. “That’s what philanthropy is really about. It’s not about right here and now. It’s about leaving a legacy,” she says. “And you can’t ask other people to consider it unless you’re willing to lead by example.”

Written by Nicole Capozziello