Why I Give Back: Milton A. Washington, ’58

For more than 40 years, Milton A. Washington, ’58, and his wife, Nancy, have been fixtures in their Pittsburgh community, renowned for their work to improve access to affordable housing and education and for their dedication to a number of cultural and civic causes.

But Milton Washington hasn’t forgotten his hometown—or his alma mater—on the opposite end of the state.

“I stay involved and donate to La Salle because I want to make sure that future students have an excellent experience at La Salle,” he said. “I know it will have a lasting impact and will add immeasurable value to their lives.”

Washington began his college career at Howard University in Washington, D.C., but during his freshman year, he realized that the school did not offer the courses in business that he wanted. While home in Philadelphia, he decided to explore other options and transferred to La Salle, earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1958 and leaving with a strong foundation in business fundamentals as well as in ethics, teamwork, honesty, and fairness.

“When I think about the important things I learned at La Salle, I can’t help but reflect on the people—the faculty, staff, and students were integral to my La Salle experience,” he said, citing the late management professor Charles Halpin, Ph.D., as a particularly strong mentor. “La Salle was the perfect school for me—it combined the high-caliber teaching of a large university with the personal feel of a small college.”

After La Salle, Washington served in the Army and earned an MBA from Temple. He also worked as a project manager for the Philadelphia Housing Authority at that time.

In 1968, Washington moved to Pittsburgh and became Administrative Vice President of the Allegheny Housing Rehabilitation Corporation (AHRCO), and, in 1973, he assumed the presidency of the organization, a title he held until 2008, when he became Chairman. AHRCO is a private development and property management firm that plans, rehabilitates, constructs, and manages affordable housing for low- to moderate-income families.

Washington has also been President of Beacon Construction Company since 1973, and he was Chair of SSM Industries, one of the nation’s top 10 sheet metal fabricators and installers, from 1989 to 1999.

Along with Nancy Washington, who has been a professor and administrator at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Milton Washington has been active on the boards of many organizations, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, The Extra Mile Education Foundation, and the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. For their contributions to the history of Western Pennsylvania, the couple was honored with the History Makers Award in the field of community service, given by the Senator John Heinz History Center, in 2014.

La Salle has also been a recipient of the Washingtons’ philanthropy, as an extension of their work in Pittsburgh to promote educational initiatives and diversity.

“As a student of color, I appreciated the diversity at La Salle,” he said. “By giving back, I hope qualified students from all social and economic backgrounds will be given the opportunity to attend La Salle. In today’s global economy, interacting with people from diverse backgrounds is an invaluable experience for our future business leaders.”

To continue to attract top-quality students, Washington said, La Salle needs the support of its entire community to make the necessary investments in infrastructure, technology, and talent.

“In order for La Salle to remain competitive and continue to provide a top-notch education, we will all have to donate and do our part,” he said. “If we want La Salle to attract the best and brightest, regardless of financial means, we need to contribute.”