Elizabeth Petykowski

Elizabeth Duvall Petykowski stood sporting her Roosevelt University T-shirt on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on an unseasonably warm Jan. 21, 2017. She was not alone, joined by nearly half a million people in support of women’s health care issues and at-risk equality protections.

Petykowski (BS Hospitality and Tourism, '12), a program financial analyst at the Environmental Defense Fund, said she worried about the Trump administration’s new policies and wanted to march in solidarity for women’s and environmental issues.

Petykowski’s activism can be traced to her father, who was an IT project manager as well as a farmer. This — according to the Palatine, Illinois native — developed her interest in environmental issues.

“It was part of our family,” Petykowski said. “You would have better years economically when the crops are good. [I realized] what's happening [in the environment] and how farmers growing our food get impacted by that.”

Though Petykowski’s job may not be directly linked to her degree, it prepared her for her career nonetheless. Her minor in international studies especially pushed her into mission-oriented work, and Roosevelt’s social justice mission translated perfectly.

“Immediately after Roosevelt, I started at an association management company in Chicago and there I got my start in nonprofit management,” Petykowski said. “[It was] a good segue into being in a more mission impact-oriented nonprofit sector.”

In so many areas of work abroad with poverty and different cultures, issues of environmentalism and social justice go hand in hand, according to Petykowski. It’s made her an active participant in leading the charge for change.

“We spread the message that global warming is real, that we need to help and do something,” Petykowski said. “A lot of that stems from what I learned at Roosevelt.”

Petykowski said she initially chose Roosevelt because of a generous financial aid package but she discovered, as she attended classes, that she loved the school for different reasons.

“I would make that decision again just based on what I know the student body is made up of, what the University chooses to focus on — the classes, the teachers,” said Petykowski. “I would do it all over again if I had to because that is what inspired me.”

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