Jul 9, 2018 9:24:00 AM

Aspirant and Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh Celebrate ‘Connection of Hope Day’ as Proclaimed by Mayor’s Office to Release RUSafe App


Aspirant and Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh Celebrate ‘Connection of Hope Day’ as Proclaimed by Mayor’s Office to Release RUSafe App

Photo from left to right: Aspirant President Mike McClaine, Office of Mayor Assistant Chief of Staff Lindsay Powell, WC&S Interim CEO and Chief Program Officer Nicole Molinaro Karaczun, and Aspirant Client Engagement Manager Kristen Gabrielli.

Aspirant and Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh (WC&S) held a launch event for the Pittsburgh community to release the new version of the RUSafe mobile app, along with other life-saving resources, to ‘empower our region to advocate, protect, and provide hope for millions of lives impacted by domestic violence.’ Joining in the celebration as supporters of this initiative were the Office of the Mayor, United Way of Southwest PA, Southwest PA Says No More, and business and community leaders.

To commemorate this event and the launch of the RUSafe app – developed by Aspirant and officially launched first within the Pittsburgh community – Lindsay Powell, assistant chief of staff, Office of Mayor William Peduto, presented a proclamation declaring June 27 as WOMEN’S CENTER & SHELTER OF GREATER PITTSBURGH CONNECTION OF HOPE DAY, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Connection of Hope is also the name of Aspirant’s larger campaign to raise awareness of and help prevent domestic abuse.

Download RUSafe AppThe event, which included two sessions to accompany guests, was attended by more than 225 attendees, and designed to build awareness and recruit volunteers to champion domestic violence intervention and provide information and tools, including the RUSafe app, to share in their communities – and reach those who need it most. RUSafe is now available to download across the United States, and Aspirant and WC&S are planning a national launch event in fall 2018.

Audience members at Alloy26 asking questions to the speaker's panel. From left to right: Aspirant Accounting Specialist Ashley Sprowls, RUSafe Coordinator Kathy Marecic, WC&S Interim CEO and Chief Program Officer Nicole Molinaro Karaczun, President Mike McClaine, and Office of Mayor Assistant Chief of Staff Lindsay Powell.

This release comes shortly after Aspirant developed and launched a new version of its Bright Sky app in the UK with Hestia and The Vodafone Foundation. The app is the UK's first mobile app to help people affected directly by domestic abuse, as well as friends, family members and colleagues who may be concerned about someone they know. The new version was officially released in May 2018.

Connection of Hope Day Event
WTAE’s Sally Wiggin, who is on WC&S’ Advisory Board, emceed the event, which featured speeches by Aspirant President Mike McClaine and WC&S’ Interim CEO and Chief Program Officer Nicole Molinaro Karaczun about the history and importance of RUSafe.

Then RUSafe Coordinator Kathy Marecic introduced the new app and its features, and Ashley Sprowls gave an overview of a toolkit -- including flyers, business cards, information about RUSafe, and more -- that attendees would be taking home to help share the app in their communities. Wiggin then led a question and answer section to finish off each of the two sessions.

“We are thrilled to be working with Aspirant on the latest version of the RUSafe app, and honored to launch it first in Pittsburgh,” said WC&S Interim CEO and Chief Program Officer Nicole Molinaro Karaczun. “Now available in three languages and including new features focused on safety planning, links to resources, and a comprehensive journal tool, the RUSafe app is more robust than ever before. Our hope is this event and new connection to these critical resources will not only help those in abusive relationships, but also concerned friends, family, and colleagues.”

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Attendees mingling before the event at Alloy26. RUSafe Coordinator Kathy Marecic, presenting RUSafe's new features.

“We are proud to be working with Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh to launch the new version of RUSafe. This initiative utilizes Aspirant’s work at the forefront of technology and mobile applications to positively impact a cause that changes lives,” said Mike McClaine, president of Aspirant. “The new features we’ve been working on make the app even better positioned to help potential victims of domestic abuse, as well as inform those closest to them. RUSafe is a key component of the Connection of Hope campaign, which is dedicated to raising awareness of and helping prevent domestic abuse.”

RUSafe History
As of May 2018, version 1 of the RUSafe app:

  • Guided nearly 2,000 women to call a shelter, view a shelter's website or watch a shelter's inspirational video
  • Was used to contact 685 shelters in all 50 states
  • Has been opened approximately 5,800 times


A group of attendees, speakers, Aspirant and WC&S employees, and volunteers gather after Session 1 of the evening. WTAE's Sally Wiggin emceed the event.

RUSafe is available in English, Nepali, and Spanish, and the expanded app features include:

  • Comprehensive and secure journal tool that includes photo, text and audio capabilities
  • Questionnaires to assess the safety of family and friends and educational materials on how to help others
  • Directory of specialized agencies offering support services for domestic abuse
  • Advanced capabilities to search help by entering in either current location or any other zip code, neighborhood or landmark
  • Links to valuable resources with information about assessment, safety, and risk

Download RUSafe AppConnection of Hope Day Media Results
As a way to acknowledge the media who supported RUSafe, here is a list of where the app and event were featured leading up to and after June 27:

If you’re interested in supporting this cause and/or working with Aspirant, please contact Client Engagement Manager Kristen Gabrielli at kristen.gabrielli@aspirant.com or Marketing Communications Manager John Conroy at john.conroy@aspirant.com. And if you would like a toolkit of your own to share information in your community, email RUSafe Coordinator Kathy Marecic at rusafe@info.net.
John helps lead Aspirant’s marketing and communications efforts for both internal and external projects, including website, business development, social media, corporate social responsibility efforts, public relations, and recruiting. During his 13-year career, he has developed the ability to merge strategic vision with project management abilities as well as creative and communicative storytelling for marketing and advertising within various industries.

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