Rusty Dornin - Director of Marketing and Communications

Rusty Dornin

Director of Marketing and Communications
Champion of the storytellers

Telling stories well is an art; telling other people’s stories is a privilege.

During my nearly 30 years as a broadcast journalist, people have often let me take a walk in their shoes. Sometimes they had little more than their shoes, having been hit by some natural or man-made disaster. Or perhaps I was there to record a wonderful event, celebrate an accomplishment, or dive into an investigation. Whether it was a heartbreaking tale or a celebration, it was an honor to be allowed to give voice to their experiences. The strength of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me.

At Ulu Ventures, I amplify our message about why diversity is profitable, but I also have the privilege of highlighting our founders’ stories of how and why they are changing our world.

Whether we collaborate on an article or share their story via video interviews, I’m always inspired by their passion—and often amazed by their sheer grit and determination.

I interviewed one of our founders, Jenny Xia Spradling, twice over a three-year period and saw how her company had skyrocketed, and how much of the growth occurred during the pandemic. Jenny is Co-founder and Co-CEO of FreeWill, a free platform that makes it easier for individuals to make charitable bequests and simpler for nonprofit organizations to receive those funds. Since its founding in 2017, more than $4.7B has been committed to nonprofits via cash, stock, crypto, charitable distributions from IRAs, and other bequests. FreeWill’s aim is to raise a trillion dollars for nonprofits, and they’re just one incredible example of the ways in which I see our Ulupreneurs changing the world.

Rusty interviewing Ulupreneurs
Rusty interviewing Jenny Xia Spradling, Co-founder and Co-CEO of FreWill
Rusty and Anderson Cooper wading in water
Rusty and Anderson Cooper covering Hurricane Ike

I met Miriam Rivera and Clint Korver when I was changing careers and leaving CNN in 2009, shortly after Ulu Ventures was founded. I was one of the first Ulupreneurs, on the founding team of a woman-led startup. While our firm didn’t make it through the last recession, my relationship with Ulu Ventures did. Clint and Miriam taught me so much about what entrepreneurship really means—and why it’s so important to champion entrepreneurs when they are just getting started. For me, they underscored the idea that founders are the future of our world and that talent comes in many colors. They emphasized the reasons why the faces of that future should look more like the people around us and less like the pale/male palettes of the past. I’m very proud to be part of Ulu’s journey to fund the future.

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