Manuela Testolini, the founder and head of In A Perfect World has a deep, impact-driven history in the philanthropic space. For the past 20 years, Manuela has worked to build effective, solutions-oriented approaches to empower the next generation. Under her leadership, In a Perfect World has created and supported programs that provide education, mentoring and artistic expression to underserved and at-risk youth around the world in places including Mali, Malawi, Senegal, Haiti, Nicaragua, Nepal, among others, and also right here in the U.S. from Los Angeles to Washington, DC and beyond. In addition to In a Perfect World’s work of building schools, providing grants to inner city classrooms in need, and helping to facilitate youth-driven moments of service, Manuela has created a unique Youth Ambassador Program that trains young people to be community leaders.
Of Egyptian and Italian descent, Manuela was raised in Canada and spent her summers growing up in Egypt where she was deeply moved by first-hand exposure to societal challenges and for some, a need for so much. After receiving a degree in law and sociology at York University in Toronto, Manuela became involved with several nonprofit organizations and philanthropic projects including Love 4 One Another, Free Arts Minnesota, and the Young Women’s Empowerment Network. From this work, experience, and passion, In a Perfect World was born, and has since been widely recognized with honors including the Award of Service from United Communities Against Poverty, the GuideStar Platinum Seal Award, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Fearless Leader Award. Most recently, Manuela received the Muhammad Ali Voice of Humanity Award, whose inaugural honoree was President Barack Obama.
Manuela’s commitment to service is a family affair: she and her husband, Eric, have traveled together to places like Haiti to build schools with In a Perfect World, and their two daughters are following in their footsteps as resident pint-size activists for the organization.