Maureen Rush this month continued to build on nearly 40 years of law enforcement leadership by being elected unanimously as the first female president of the Philadelphia Police Foundation.

Rush, the University of Pennsylvania's vice president for public safety, was elected by the foundation's board of directors to the volunteer post Sept. 21 after six years as a member of the foundation.

The nonprofit supports Philadelphia's police department by funding projects outside the city's budget, according to its website. Its previous president was Robert Ciaruffoli, chairman and chief executive of the ParentBeard accounting firm.

An 18-year-veteran of the Police Department, Rush went to Penn in 1994 and became the director of victim support and special services. She became police chief at the university in 1996 before becoming vice president for public safety, overseeing seven departments.

This is at least the third "first" as a woman for Rush in her 38 years in law enforcement, but she said, "I don't think gender has a lot to do with anything in life. People are people."

She also was one of the first 100 women hired as Philadelphia police officers to serve on street patrol in 1976, and was the first female chief of police at Penn.

Rush, 59, said she was excited for the opportunity and added that it fit in with what she already does.

"This is a wonderful match for what I do with helping Philadelphia police," Rush said. "Overall, what we're trying to make is a safer Philadelphia. We hope people want to help us make Philadelphia the safest city in America."

Rush said one of the foundation's main goals was to help the Police Department pay for weapons and equipment including bicycles, ballistic vests, and Segways.

The foundation has 19 board and executive board members and three ex-officio board members: Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross Jr., and Chief Administrative Officer Nola Joyce.

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