President & CEO
I am extremely excited and honored to serve as Mentor Foundation USA’s President & CEO as I believe it’s everyone’s business and responsibility to invest in the future and wellbeing of our youth! And I am eager and impatient to expand our programs, reaching more youth across the U.S.
– Gunilla Girardo
Gunilla is the Mother of Elsa (19) and Sven (15) and a results-driven business development and marketing executive with 25+ years of experience in helping companies and organizations succeed.
Before joining Mentor Foundation, she was head of business development for a leading government consultancy and contractor, along with consulting as an executive coach and serving on a few boards. She also served as president for the Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce – USA. During her 10 years at the helm of the Chamber, the organization grew to be the second-largest European chamber of commerce in the United States.
Prior to moving from Sweden to the D.C. area 23 years ago, she was program director for International Business School of Sweden, responsible for their markets in England, Germany, Spain, France and Washington D.C.
Director of Marketing & Outreach
Michaela joined Mentor in 2011 when the organization was just launching it's first programs. She truly knows the organization inside and out and has supported the organization in every aspect, including accounting, program evaluation, special events and fundraising.
She deeply believes in creating spaces and opportunities for youth to thrive while closing the opportunity divide. Michaela brings a passion for bridging the gap between the corporate sector and the next generation of workforce.
Michaela, a native Swede, moved to the U.S. after graduating high school to attended George Mason University where she obtained a B.A. in Marketing and Business Management.
Michelle is eager to begin this new chapter as Mentor Foundation USA’s Program Director. Before joining Mentor Foundation Michelle managed programs at Everybody Wins! DC, Homeless Children’s Playtime Project and Higher Achievement. Her six years of program management experience and 10 years of experience with youth-serving nonprofits will be advantageous in this role.
She believes deeply in creating spaces and opportunities for youth to thrive while closing the opportunity divide. Michelle brings a passion for mentoring, commitment to leading high-quality programs, and an eagerness to dive deeply into data to ensure successful outcomes for youth and partners.
Michelle understands the power of service and mentoring. As such, she’s served for six years as a mentor with Higher Achievement and since 2009 has organized Washington’s Biggest Givers, a service group for area professionals.
Michelle was born and partly raised in DC. She also considers NC home.
Sergio Chavez is a motivational speaker, life coach, and professional youth counselor. He has traveled across the U.S., Central America, and the Caribbean engaging youth and young adults in a compelling and life-giving way through his facilitation and public speaking.
As a child growing up in Falls Church, Virginia, Sergio developed a passion and gift for speaking and communicating through music, acting, and writing. He hit his first major turning point at age 12 when his father walked out on his family, which drove him to turn to the street life. Years later, he came to the realization that those around him, including himself, needed hope, restoration, and motivation. Sergio’s ambition to spread this message moved him to begin speaking to small groups in family homes and working in inner-city communities. What started as small discussions has now become speaking engagements in larger venues, businesses, non-profits, schools, and correctional facilities. He is known for his message of empowerment and motivation. His personal story inspires many across the nation to arise, dream big, and live a life without fear and limitations. Sergio and his wife, Franchesca, currently reside in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Manager of Programs & Youth Development
Sandra has spent the last 20 years working within the Jewish non-profit world developing programs for participants from birth through adulthood at a variety of organizations. Most recently, she spent the last seven years as a youth director for teens from 6th through 12th grade throughout Upstate New York and brings her vision for them to reach their full potential as peer leaders to Mentor Foundation USA. She specifically excels at leadership building and program development as well as event management.
Sandra holds a Master's in Education with a specialization in Administration from Gratz College in Philadelphia. Presently, she lives in Albany, NY, with her husband and is the mother to three teens of her own, who range in age from middle school to college.