A Look Into Our Leader: Donna Wertalik

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Behind every successful organization lies a great leader, and PRISM is no exception. PRISM has more than just an advisor—we have a powerful founder and inspiration, Donna Wertalik. Here’s a look into our leader:

Donna C. Wertalik, M.S. is the Director of Marketing for the Pamplin College of Business and serves as an Associate Professor of Practice in the Marketing Department at Virginia Tech. Her role of Director of Marketing encompasses brand, marketing, and metrics for the business school. In addition, she leads the strategic efforts of Pamplin’s Virtual Identity through Virginia Tech’s PRISM.  

Donna has taught in all areas of marketing, including Undergraduate, Graduate and PhD Bridge Programs. She holds a bachelor of science in marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University, as well as a Master’s of Science in Marketing and a Graduate Certification in Social Media and Data Analysis from Southern New Hampshire University. Donna has more than 24 years of industry experience and has worked for organizations such as Nestle Corporation, Schering Plough and Glaxo Smith-Kline, as well as key advertising firms such Ogilvy, CommonHealth, and Pace, Inc., a division of McCann.


How did the idea and mold of PRISM come to be?

“As PRISM likes to joke, it started on a ‘piece of paper’...which is the truth! Back in 2010, our former Dean of Business, asked for help in revising the Pamplin College of Business website. I responded with a proposal, noting that we needed to think bigger than a website--we had to consider our digital footprint and the fact that we had none in 2010! My time at VT has allowed me to understand how the academic landscape works and the impact it has on students. This is what drove me to question why were students in silos, when their careers would involve an interdisciplinary approach, working with majors of all types. This idea was the springboard for PRISM, which then led to an initial funding of $20,000 and a semester to perform quantitative research to determine what content and consumption our key stakeholders (students, faculty & alumni) were engaging with.”


Why do you love to work with students?

“My career journey always allowed me to focus on important aspects that mattered. I spent a tremendous amount of time in healthcare, women's help, and consumer packaged goods. It was extremely rewarding to launch brands and services that truly made an impact in key categories. Once I stepped into my first classroom in 2008, I felt a calling and a passion like never before. The chance to work with such amazing individuals during their college careers is beyond words; it’s truly a gift. Seeing them explore and soar during their time at Virginia Tech is priceless. I have the utmost joy in seeing students become alums and pay it forward again and again.”


What has been your favorite part of watching PRISM grow?  

“There are so many favorite parts! I still keep in touch with many, many alums through our active network. I have seen them grow in their careers, personal lives, and two have even had children, so we created PRISM onesies to celebrate Generation Alpha which will represent 2 billion by the time this cohort is finished!

Overall, my favorite part is the alumni who give back. Throughout the years, I have had the pleasure of working with many brilliant students. When they ask ‘how can I repay you’, my response is simple--’pay it forward.’ One day someone will need your help, so keep this going and we can change the world."

Donna’s creation and leadership of PRISM has led hundreds of students to receive real-life experiences while in college. We’re thankful for her hard work and fearless dedication to the Pamplin College of Business and, of course, PRISM!