Mary Stonor Saunders brings over 25 years of experience from both the profit and not-for-profit sectors.  Her substantive expertise is with program development, project management, fundraising, communications, and collaborative initiatives.

Prior to joining Strides as their inaugural executive director,  Mary served as Director of Strategy and Development for BUILD, a gang intervention, violence prevention and youth development organization in Chicago where she oversaw fundraising, external relations and program development during a critical time of transition.

Mary began her career in Washington, D.C. where she worked in association fundraising and development. In 1990 she joined The Washington Post, where she held several administrative positions including Events Marketing Manager. Coming to Chicago in 1996 to pursue a graduate degree, she has held positions in planning and program development for La Rabida Children’s Hospital, Action for Illinois Children, and the University of Chicago, where she directed the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy. She has also worked as an independent consultant for a range of human services clients and served as Senior Associate with Antolín and Associates Consulting.

In 2009, Mary launched Granola for Good, a social enterprise that aimed to raise the profile of non-profit partners (Inspiration Corporation). She developed the Grow Chicago Collaborative in 2014 to give emerging food manufacturers a voice around the policy table, and was invited to join RW Ventures as a project partner for the MacArthur Foundation-funded Chicagoland Food Cluster initiative to spur regional economic development.

Mary is passionate about ending gun violence in Chicago, and has been involved with several initiatives since 2010 when 16-year-old DeAntonio Goss, son of a peace activist, was killed on his way home from school. She has been an active volunteer throughout her life, including literacy, domestic and community violence, teen parents, and homelessness. She holds an M.S. from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Health Administration and Policy, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.