Gunilla Girardo

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Location: Washington, DC
Founded: 1995
Industry: Nonprofit

Gunilla Girardo
President and CEO

The Mentor Foundation

The Mentor Foundation works to prevent drug abuse among youth, while helping them realize their potential. “We view prevention and youth development as a collective civil responsibility,” says president and CEO Gunilla Girardo. “Therefore, we partner with the business community, government agencies, schools and parents to create healthy and productive pathways for youth.” 

Quick Tip: “Give back and pay it forward. Create opportunities for young people to learn and excel in their field of study. You’ll learn just as much from young professionals as they will from you.”

When Girardo took on her leadership position at The Mentor Foundation, the organization was just finishing up its startup phase. She was brought on to expand the organization’s operations, reach more youth across the country, and find a way to scale its programs. “Before I accepted this challenge, I did considerable due diligence on the quality of our programs and the team’s ability to deliver, as well as reached out to potential sponsors to gain their feedback,” says Girardo. Since Girardo came on board, The Mentor Foundation has more than doubled its revenue, and established a model for expanding its programs nationally.

“Our most innovative fundraising program is our corporate partnership with H&M, which began as a local anti-drug slogan contest a few years ago,” says Girardo. “This contest morphed into a national campaign to show the world the many ways in which young people are … making a difference in our communities via sports, arts, volunteering, and much more. The first year we went national, we engaged youth in 26 states.”