Gary Clemons started at Friends of the Children - Portland in 2008 as a Friend to eight boys. Subsequently, he has risen through the organization through multiple roles from Children Selection and Special Projects Manager to supporting fundraising efforts for the chapter. In 2014 Gary became Friends of the Children - National's Chief Program Officer where he aided the network in growing from 8 to 15 locations by helping to raise seed capital and bringing the program model to new cities.
In 2018 Gary was recruited to serve as Executive Director for Friends of the Children – New York. In an effort to address the stability gap experienced by youth and families affected by systemic racism, Friends of the Children – NY launched a $17 million campaign to double the number of youth served in NYC and advanced the 2gen model, which extends services to parents in addition to the youth. Currently, he is working on a framework to advance the organization’s anti-racist stance and support families as they advocate for policy change.
Gary’s passion for helping marginalized youth and families derives from his own story. Growing up in underserved communities contributed to his experiences with gangs and homelessness; he struggled to find his way and was lucky to be empowered by positive adults. This led him to dedicate his life to social justice, which he has been doing for 25+ years. Gary's past experiences include an initiative at Guide Dogs for the Blind to expand the racial diversity of their donor, employee and visually-impaired client pool across North America. Gary attended Portland State University and has multiple Project Management certificates. He is a Leadership Portland alumnus and will always be an incredible advocate for Friends of the Children.