Mission and Values > Programs > Vincentian Mission Institute > Current VMI Cohort > Maria Toscano

toscano
I have always been a story-teller. Since the days when I was a young child with an overly vivid imagination, I have loved to tell stories. Through the written word, film, photo and video, my life’s work has been to share stories that move people. Move them to laugh, to cry, to act, to react, to grow in knowledge and in power. This love of story-telling has led me to a lifetime of weaving words and images to communicate with millions of viewers, hundreds of colleagues and handfuls of friends.

Born and raised in Chicago, I grew up in one of the best news towns in the industry. I started my broadcast journalism career at WFLD/Fox 32 News while still attending Loyola University. I made the jump from the #5 station in the market to #1 broadcaster -- WLS/ABC 7 News. There, I learned to sharpen my journalism skills and transform them into a story-telling art form that would lead me down a winding road through four local TV newsrooms over a span of 15 years.

In between my news tours of duty, I managed to dedicate ten years of public service to the City of Chicago as head of media relations at the Chicago Transit Authority and then as deputy press secretary to Mayor Richard M. Daley. I returned to the TV news business, but as newsrooms around the nation were shrinking, my news staff position was eliminated. However, with the changes in the economy and in the news industry, I realized it was time to reinvent myself and find a new story-telling setting.

I had never really considered working in higher education. Then DePaul University was the answer to my prayers – literally.  Within months of being laid off and praying to find a new job, I was offered a temporary position at DePaul in 2011 to use my skills and experience to tell the university’s stories in new and compelling ways. In January 2012, I was hired as a permanent addition to the Office of Public Relations and Communications as a writer and video producer, where I continue to serve as a coordinator of visual content, producer and writer. For the past two years, I have served on the President’s Diversity Council and have recently been named among the 2017 DePaul Women’s Network Women of Spirit and Action Award recipients. Throughout all of this, I have stayed true to my faith, myself and my passion to tell stories.

Why DePaul?

DePaul is like no place I have ever known. Nowhere else have I woken up each work day with such a sense of conviction, passion and determination -- knowing that with every story I write, produce or photograph, I am sharing DePaul’s mission and St. Vincent’s vision.  I am regularly charged with crafting stories about the students we serve, the faculty who teach, the administrators who run the operation, the alumni who have gone on to do good, and the donors who provide financial support. I’ve written stories about our roots and our mission, and the Vincentians who are our direct connection to St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. As the number of Vincentian priests dwindles and the number of Vincentians in formation fades, it becomes ever more significant to chronicle these stories so our Vincentian history lives on. I hope to continue to find new stories to share about DePaul’s mission and the extraordinary people and ways we fulfill our mission every day.

Why VMI?

Working at DePaul has given me a hunger to learn more about St. Vincent de Paul.

Through the Vincentian Mission Institute I hope to come to understand how the ideas of a man who dedicated himself to serving the poor almost 400 years ago, still resonate with us today and have left a life-long imprint on thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni who have made DePaul their home.

I hope to learn more about St. Louise and how she was key to implementing St. Vincent de Paul’s mission to help the poor, the orphaned and those living on the margins of society. Through what I do at DePaul, I hope to bring her story out through the many contemporary women of our campuses.

Simply put, I want to learn more about our history so I can tell more stories in our future.

Lastly, through the VMI, I want to reach an understanding of how to be a better Catholic; how to reconcile the Catholic teachings I was brought up on with the faith I hold now; how do other Catholics accomplish this; and why does it seem simpler, more genuine and more welcoming to those of other faiths, or lack thereof, for our university to be Vincentian versus very, very Catholic. I feel to have these topics and questions addressed by a cross-section of fellow higher education colleagues from St. John’s and Niagara Universities would give me greater perspective and understanding, while strengthening my zeal to share more stories about DePaul University and our mission, especially as we move forward in a new era, led by our first lay president.