“Above and beyond” was the trait judges at the Canadian Administrative Professional of the Year awards were looking for and, as it turns out, that’s a phrase often used to describe Donna Venditti.
Venditti is among the five finalists from across Canada in a contest run by the AdminsRock conference. The conference is the brainchild of entrepreneur Rhonda Sharf through her business consulting firm, On the Track.
Mark Basciano, co-owner of Mountainview Homes nominated his "right arm," Venditti, for the 2020 edition of the contest and she has reached the final stage of the process.
He told the Thorold News, "I thought here's an opportunity to have Donna recognized by her peers for excellence in what she does. And it's a great organization that provided the opportunity. I think she's very deserving of this."
Venditti has been on the board for the Administrative Professionals Conference of Canada for seven years, and that introduced her to the organization.
"Rhonda Sharf is an amazing woman who has been a guest speaker at our conference. She wanted to start her own conference and this contest across Canada," she explained.
"Mark submitted my name. I didn't think too much about it at first, but it was a very detailed process and I was recently informed I'm a finalist," said Venditti.
"I don't need kudos to do my job. I love it. I am very good at it and have a passion for it and the owners," she added.
Basciano agreed, saying, "Although a lot of people have positions like Donna, what I would call the unsung heroes in an office environment, Donna is not one of those people who asks for accolades or awards. She comes in every day and has an incredible passion for what she does - incredible loyalty and dedication."
It was going the extra mile that, she believes, put her among the five finalists. In fact, she is currently atop the online poll.
"We were asked; 'What do you do that is above and beyond your job that would put you in the top group?' And right away. I went to my charity work. Every year I run at least three charity events. I sit on the board of the local Women in Construction Group and we donate to Pathstone, Women's Place and others," explained Venditti.
Pathstone provides mental health care for youth in Niagara and Women's Place provides shelter and support to women in need.
"We also run a fundraiser for Community Care," continued Venditti. I asked Mark to match donations and each year he has. The first year it was $1,100; the next year it was $3,000 and this past year Mark matched the $10,200 we raised."
Basciano explained his support.
"We have in common the belief to give back to the community. Whenever we endeavour to take on a major cause like Hotel Dieu Shaver or Pathstone, or minor cause that may not get the headlines, Donna is 100 per cent willing to jump in and take the project over. She really is a community-minded person. When it comes to community philanthropy, Donna is right there. She believes in it. She enjoys it, and asks all the time to get involved in community projects, often taking on the initiative on her own to do fundraising, get involved in charities and donate her time. Her whole family is like that."
Venditti confirmed her family commitment to community, telling us that her mother, Mary Goode, who has passed away, was her inspiration.
"She was always volunteering, even when she had cancer. She didn't stop volunteering until she was bedridden."
Regular duties at Mountainview include: being a Commissioner - able to perform some legal duties, typing contracts, managing Basciano's schedule, dealing with office staff, dealing with new employees, the security for all the model homes and sites, and much more.
"If anybody has an issue, they call me," she said.
Mike Memme agrees with his partner, Basciano.
Venditti recounted, "Mike once told me, 'Your projects always have a beginning, middle and end. You always finish.'"
But Venditti sees no boundaries to her job. "I would do anything. I'm an old-fashioned person. I'm not averse to making my boss coffee or lunch. I think it's the right thing to do. I'm not offended by catering to someone."
In fact, from getting coffee to shopping for underwear, there's no job Donna considers to be beneath her. She revealed the weirdest thing she ever did was find beaver keychains, to be included in an all-Canadian gift basket for visitors to a Niagara conference for building professionals.
Her explanation for doing what others might see as beneath them is simple: "I do it for my family and my friends, so why would I treat my boss any different?"
The Venditti family includes husband Rocky and daughters Nicole and Taylor.
"I think I'm a good, compassionate, caring person. I would go to the ends of the earth for my friends and my family, and I would go to the ends of the earth for my boss," she explained.
"I care about Mark and his family because they've become like my own family," she said. "Mark's daughter, Michaela, posted 'Vote for my work mom,' on social media, and that meant more to me than the award," Venditti declared.
In addition to the detailed resume, five judges will also consider a two-minute video submitted by the nominees. And associates can see the videos and vote online at: www.adminsrock.com/admin-of-the-year. The voting portion of the process accounts for 20 per cent of the nominees' final score and it ends on April 8. The award will be announced on April 22.