MENTOR Names New CEO

Alberto Gonzales might be hard up for a job, but not every Bush 43 guy is having the same trouble. MENTOR, a national mentoring advocacy organization, has tapped Dan Schneider to be its new chief executive officer.

Schneider, who got his start in Washington as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. James Ryun (R-Kan.), has been acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families since Wade Horn left the agency in April of 2007. He spent two years before that as Horn’s principal deputy assistant secretary.

“Great guy,” said former Schneider’s former ACF colleague Harry Wilson, now a consultant for ICF International. “He’s a great manager, too. I think that’s kind of what we need to get mentoring to the next phase.”

Schneider is credited with leading the effort to match 100,000 children with mentors through the agency’s Mentoring Children of Prisoners initiative, for which MENTOR certifies mentoring groups to receive vouchers.

“It was pretty broken when he showed up,” Wilson said of MCP. “He tracked everything, kept it on keel.”

Schneider also used about $5 million of Head Start funds to establish the National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play, an effort to reduce childhood obesity. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, a Reston, Va.-based nonprofit, won the contract to serve as that center.

Schneider will have his hands full as he inherits his new position, which was filled in an interim arrangement for eight months by former United Way of Massachusetts Bay CEO Marian Heard and for about 14 years by Gail Manza. MENTOR has some exciting projects in the works, such as an online community forum for mentoring programs it launched and a pilot project with the FBI that allows mentoring programs to access FBI background checks cheaply. But it has struggled to maintain its network of state partnerships; there were 22 in 20 states last year, compared with 32 in 25 states in 2006. And it has been operating at a deficit, dipping into its endowment for operating funds.

MENTOR also has a new board chairman: Willem Kooyker, CEO of Blenheim Capital Management, takes over for MENTOR founder Geoffrey Boisi.

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