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Annual Gala

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Event Highlights and Information

The 5th Annual Igniting Future Leaders Gala is Guiding Light's largest annual fundraising event honoring individuals for their outstanding commitment to young people. This special night celebrates and spotlights the outstanding work of our young people and the success they have achieved in our programs and services. We are thrilled to announce our special guest, motivational speaker and storyteller, Kevin Hines. Our emcee for the evening is local news personality Ashley Kirklen. We feature a seated dinner, an awards and scholarship ceremony, a silent and live auction, and a keynote speaker. All funds raised from Igniting Future Leaders go towards supporting young people in the various programs we offer. Each year, Guiding Light Mentoring's Igniting Future Leaders Gala welcomes new sponsors and in-kind donors who share in our mission of providing positive activities to local youth. As a sponsor, your support allows young people to learn, grow and develop healthy lifestyles within a safe, nurturing environment. Your generous donation will give us sufficient funds to continue our GREAT work with the children and families who count on us every day. Your sponsorship will help open the door to a GREAT FUTURE for a young person who without your help may have never had an opportunity to attend our programs.

Featured Guests

Keynote Speaker Kevin Hines

Kevin Hines is a storyteller at heart. He is a best-selling author, global public speaker, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. In the Year 2000, Kevin attempted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Many factors contributed to his miraculous survival including a sea lion which kept him afloat until the Coast Guard arrived. Kevin now travels the world sharing his story of hope, healing, and recovery while teaching people of all ages the art of wellness & the ability to survive pain with true resilience. Kevin’s will to live and stay mentally well has inspired people worldwide. His compelling story has touched diverse, global audiences within colleges and universities, high schools, corporations, clergy, military, clinicians, health and medical communities, law enforcement organizations, and various industries. Thousands have communicated to Hines that his story helped save their lives. He has reached millions with his story.

Honorary Chair Gwen Robinson

Gwen L. Robinson, who after 24 years, recently retired as President and CEO of the Cincinnati Hamilton County Community Action Agency (CAA). During that time, she successfully evolved the Agency into a one of the city’s premiere human services and economic development provider that serves nearly 35,000 individuals and families annually throughout the entire county. Ms. Robinson is leading a team of civic, community and corporate leaders who are dedicated to supporting the mission and vision of Guiding Light Mentoring. Post retirement, Ms. Robinson is extremely busy and still deeply involved in the community. She continues to be a consultant to many non-profits throughout the state. She is strategic with her time and the organizations and/or projects she supports.

Co-Chair Laura Mitchell

After taking over the helm at Beech Acres in June of 2021, Laura Mitchell immediately launched a new strategic planning process to envision a new service delivery model for children and the adults in their lives. The approach addresses the desires and needs of the family today and tomorrow with the child at the center. Prior to joining Beech Acres Laura Mitchell safely lead 36,000 students and 6,000 employees through the height of a global pandemic as the superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools. She is a Cincinnatian who is a product of the school system she once led. A graduate of the city's famed School for Creative and Performing Arts, Laura Mitchell served as teacher, principal, and deputy superintendent before taking over as the superintendent. In addition, she worked in leadership development for a non-profit educational foundation in San Francisco. Under her leadership Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), the state's third largest district, became the best performing and fastest growing urban district in Ohio. Laura Mitchell is excited and ready to elevate creative and strategic partnerships with the community designed to positively impact the world around us.

Emcee Ashley Kirklen

Ashley Kirklen is an anchor and reporter for WLWT News 5. You can watch her every weekday evening at 4, 5:30 and 7. Before coming to Cincinnati, she worked in Georgia and Michigan. Before starting her journalism career, Ms. Kirklen taught English in South Korea. She is originally from Gary, Indiana and grew up in Indianapolis. Ms. Kirklen is also a proud Graduate of Indiana University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications. Ms. Kirklen is also a member of National Association of Black Journalists.

If you have any questions about the event or becoming a sponsor, feel free to contact us at (513) 541-9777 or by email at


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