Gabriela Citrone may be a recent college graduate, but her philanthropic vision is already firmly established.

Citrone was first introduced to the world of philanthropy at six years old when she modeled in a CancerCare American Girls Doll fashion show, an event her mother Cindy helped put together.

“With my parents being long-time givers, I’ve been surrounded by philanthropy my entire life,” said Citrone, 23.

Later, Citrone jumped head first into nonprofit work, spending summers with Make-A-Wish and interning with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Pink Agenda, an organization that raises money for breast cancer research and creates awareness of the disease among young professionals. She also rounded out her experience with a fellowship at the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation.

In 2017, the Citrone 33 Foundation launched Play it Forward Pittsburgh to bring awareness to organ donation after Citrone’s grandfather was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease and needed a kidney transplant. In four months, the campaign registered 1,200 potential donors which has the potential to save 9,600 people. The Citrone’s attribute the campaign's success to its partnerships with Pittsburgh’s professional sports teams, universities and local organizations.

Two months after graduating from Elon University in North Carolina, Citrone and her college roommate demonstrated their next-gen approach to philanthropy and headed to Pittsburgh.

“For six months, we were the boots on the ground, directing this campaign with guidance from the team in Connecticut, but it was really just the two of us on the ground attending all these activations and promoting organ donor registration and doing all the marketing,” said Citrone, whose parents are Pittsburgh natives but are based in Connecticut.

More Than a Checkbook

Research on next generation donors has indicated that this new batch of philanthropists is doing things differently than their predecessors. Citrone is one example.

“[Next-gen donors are] really focused on making sure we’re making an impact and are not secretive about it,” she said. “We’ll put it out to the world and hope someone else will join us in our work.”

Citrone is walking her talk: She now sits on the leadership council for the Pink Agenda, she’s a member of the the Children’s Trust at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and is involved with Elon’s Young Alumni Council.

“I always take a hands-on approach to philanthropy,” she said. “I am much more than a checkbook, so I am fully engaged in my philanthropic work either by directly operating a program or taking an active leadership role or advisory role with an organization that my family or I personally support.”

Inspired by her mother’s extensive philanthropic efforts, Citrone has embraced her role as a woman in philanthropy. She developed Women at Elon: Moving Philanthropy Forward to recognize the impact of women on philanthropy through service and charitable giving. She also recently became a founding member of the Maverick Next Fellowship, a group of six next-gen female philanthropists who are co-investing in a female empowerment and reproductive program in Ethiopia.

“We believe we have the power to make an impact,” Citrone said. “We were sitting in circles and it was so much power and inspiration and excitement because we knew we were going to do something great.”

In addition to this work, Citrone runs the Pittsburgh Initiatives for her family’s foundation where she is focused on the second phase of the Play it Forward campaign: Mental well-being and bringing app-based mental health solutions to the masses.

Although Citrone has a full plate, she continues to embrace learning opportunities for donors. She works with the Milken Institute's Center for Strategic Philanthropy and participated in the Fidelity Charitable Next Gen Fellows Program, a resource that was a driving force when she embarked on her philanthropic journey.

“It’s where I explored my goals, passions and my values while learning how to become impactful while giving,” said Citrone. “Once you find your passion, explore what’s out there and find ways to get involved because you won’t discover your true passion until you are rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty in whatever cause makes your heart happy.”