Annabelle Gardner is passionate about increasing equity for marginalized individuals and communities. With expertise in strategic communications, coalition building, event planning and advocacy, she helps nonprofits gain supporters, raise money and create meaningful change. A firm believer in the power of storytelling and lived experience, she helps organizations curate content that changes attitudes and inspires action.
With a deep knowledge of child-serving systems, including mental health, special education, juvenile justice and foster care, Annabelle has a knack for distilling complicated ideas into actionable information – whether she’s writing a blog post, a white paper or facilitating a training. She prides herself on attention to detail and strong organizational skills, which she employs in planning one-of-a-kind events and designing eye-catching graphics and collateral.
Prior to joining Spitfire, Annabelle co-founded Young Minds Advocacy, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that advocates for increased access to quality mental health care for youth and their families. As the director of communications and development, she led the organization’s efforts to reduce stigma towards mental illness and empower youth and their allies to influence mental health policy in California. She managed two statewide collaborative projects, funded through the Mental Health Services Act, to engage transition-age youth, parents and caregivers in California’s mental health systems. Applying her grant writing and project management skills, she also secured and managed a yearlong grant from the hope and grace fund to address the unique mental health needs of young women. Annabelle also provided strategic communications support to California Youth Connection (CYC), a foster youth-led organization that transforms the foster care system through legislative and policy change. Most notably, she led the redesign of CYC’s website to increase visibility of the organization, engage target audiences and promote the voices of foster youth.
Annabelle is on the board of Good Ol’ Girls, a nonprofit that empowers progressive women through outreach, education and mentorship. As a volunteer events director she plans and hosts monthly networking events for members in San Francisco and Oakland. Annabelle also co-facilitates the Bay Area Cause Communications Community, a venue for nonprofit communicators to gain new skills, share ideas and teach one another to become more effective communicators for great causes.
The daughter of a volcanologist, Annabelle grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii and in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from the University of Oregon’s International Studies, Human Rights program with a minor in Latin American studies. Annabelle studied abroad in Argentina and later returned to South America to intern with La Comiseria de la Mujer, a program serving victims of domestic abuse in Quito, Ecuador.