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Monica Guardian ’08 inspires, shapes and nurtures leaders

Mount alumna's passion is giving back and growing leaders, which she does with empathy

April 22, 2022

Monica Guardian ’08 balances an exciting career and family. As director of education partnerships for the International Education Corporation, Guardian works with businesses to establish training opportunities for young adults to prepare them for professional and technical careers. Recently, she secured a partnership with a national transportation company for students to train directly with the employer and, eventually, become employed.

With a passion for mentorship, Guardian also gives back to her community by serving as an instructor for USC’s Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking. The center empowers everyone from young students to executives with the essential soft skills required to thrive throughout the lifecycle of leadership. 

Monica Guardian '08 partners with businesses to create training programs to prepare young adults for professionals and technical careers
Monica Guardian '08 partners with businesses to create training programs to prepare young adults for professionals and technical careers

“My work has come full circle,” says Guardian. “I am teaching a course on empathy to high school students and have to pinch myself. Using empathy to problem solve has been my personal journey.”

Guardian is committed to giving back. People of all ages and backgrounds, including Mount alumnae, reach out to her for advice, which she gladly gives.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Guardian experienced a life-changing tragedy at the early age of 10, the event catapulting her on a quest for understanding. A victim of gang violence, her brother was killed right in front of their home. In that moment, Guardian developed an unsatiable need to make sense of what had happened.

Throughout her time as an executive administrative assistant with the City of Los Angeles, Guardian strived for understanding and her desire to give back to community began to bloom. She decided to go back to school and enrolled in the Mount’s Weekend/Evening & Online College program, pursuing a degree in social work.

“What I learned in social work at the Mount positioned me for success,” says Guardian. “I learned that it’s important to meet people where they are, to understand and know your audience. It took me some time to understand that, but I got there.”

The program began to come alive in the work that she was doing with the city, coordinating grant funding for community initiatives, meeting with constituents to learn about their needs and challenges, and supporting cyber crime and child abuse prevention campaigns.

Guardian’s public sector career took off. She was recognized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with their 2009 Public Service Award and by the city for her work to educate and raise awareness among Angelenos.

“My work impacted thousands of lives,” says Guardian. “I began to understand the disparities that existed and why people turn to violence. My Mount education helped me to make sense of what I was seeing and understand different points of view.”

Knowing she always had leadership skills within her, Guardian moved to the Los Angeles city attorney’s office and worked in violence prevention. Her professionalism and drive to serve community led to her selection to be part of the U.S. Speaker and Specialist Program Bureau of International Information Programs through the U.S. Department of State.

Later, she transitioned to AltaMed as director of workforce development and established partnerships with key business and medical leaders to design, implement and manage pipeline programs for critical roles in healthcare.

“I have a lot of battle wounds from learning leadership,” says Guardian. “It isn’t easy, but I’ve learned much about workforce demands and keeping people connected.”

Guardian, who still proudly wears her Mount sweater, always knew there had to be ways to connect with people. She has been pursuing this understanding her entire career and with her strong passion for giving back and growing leaders, aims to continue to be a positive influence for years to come.

“I want to give [others] the roadmap that was given to me by my mentors,” she says. “I have a lot more to learn and accomplish.”