Michael Mendillo ’13, ’15 chose Shenandoah University because of the inclusive environment and world-class education that he knew he would receive. “Shenandoah can provide you with the foundation you need to become successful,” said Mendillo. “Any education you receive is what you make of it, but Shenandoah gave me all the tools I needed for my career.” While earning his degree, Mendillo says Shenandoah gave him incredible opportunities through work experience as a phonathon caller, traveling with the Global Citizen Project (GCP) to South Korea and the university’s small class sizes.
Some of his fondest memories as a student were creating incredible music during his time as an undergraduate and making long-lasting friends and relationships that have helped him throughout his career. Even though he worked very hard while earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he says there was always an element of of fun.
Mendillo is currently the director of corporate partnerships for The Trevor Project. As director, he is responsible for leading a large team to raise over $30 million in support of Trevor’s 24/7, complimentary and confidential crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ young people. Mendillo manages large-scale, nationally recognized partnerships with some of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the world.
The most rewarding part of his career is when he is able to match a company’s values with Trevor’s life-saving impact. “Recently, our organization surpassed its goal of reaching 350,000 LGBTQ young people with our services,” said Mendillo. “It is incredibly meaningful to know that Trevor is there for the most vulnerable in our society when they need it most.”
Mendillo attributes his successful career as a fundraiser to his time at Shenandoah. The university gave him valuable experience in fundraising as a phonathon caller and later as a supervisor. “Fundraising is very much needed to create a better world, and I was very fortunate to have a solid foundation through classes and my position as a phonathon caller,” said Mendillo.
While earning his master’s degree in performing arts leadership and management, he was able to study fundraising, arts marketing, financial management, and even had the opportunity to take business classes with Master of Business Administration degree majors. After graduation, Mendillo felt fully prepared to take on his career as a fundraiser working in arts and culture, and recently making a smooth transition to mental health and LGBTQ rights.
Mendillo’s advice to students is: “Listen! The greatest advice I received was to listen in every situation and ask lots of questions. In regard to arts management, it can mean listening to a donor, a patron, a coworker, or a board member. Listening is a skill that needs to be nurtured. It is amazing how people will find you interesting even when you don’t talk much, you just need to listen and ask the right questions!”