Dorothy Stoneman, Founder and CEO

Honors and Awards

After graduating from Harvard University in 1963 and joining the Civil Rights movement through the Harlem Action Group in NYC 1964, Stoneman organized a summer pre-school for 120 children who had missed kindergarten.  She then lived and worked in Harlem for the next 24 years. She was first a second grade public school teacher at PS 92, and then a Head Start teacher and director at the highly successful parent-controlled East Harlem Block Schools, where she was promoted by the parents to Executive Director in 1969. 

She began the first YouthBuild program in East Harlem in 1978, and served as its director for ten years.  In 1984 she orchestrated its expansion city-wide, in 1988 took it national, and in 2000 began its international expansion, starting in South Africa. She has guided the expansion of this social innovation through many stages and to substantial scale, building YouthBuild USA as an outstanding national non-profit support center, working with the federal government to create a dynamic delivery system, and with the local programs to create a democratic affiliated network in which directors and young people have equal voice. 

As a leader committed not only to the health and impact of YouthBuild, but to building momentum, public will, and policy toward the elimination of poverty, Stoneman currently serves in various leadership roles in the Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Network, Voices for National Service, America’s Promise, ServiceNation, America Forward, the National Advisory Board for Public Service at Harvard University, Emerald Cities Collaborative, and the Markle Initiative for America’s Economic Future in a Networked World.

In 2013, Stoneman was thrilled to be invited to speak at the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march on the Washington mall at which Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Stoneman has a bachelor’s degree in history and science from Harvard University, a master’s degree in early childhood education and a doctorate of humane letters from Bank Street College of Education. She has been married since 1974 to John Bell, vice president of leadership development at YouthBuild USA. They currently live in Massachusetts and have two children and 13 godchildren.