Pam Trivisonno -- the Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce's first ever Business Leader of the Year -- was in the first Lake-Geauga Learning About Business class in 1980.
In LAB, Trivisonno studied about real-world business practices as a junior at .
Later, as an accounting major in her senior year at Bowling Green University, Trivisonno was in a 400-level business class when she had an epiphany.
"I was sitting in class and I thought, 'Oh my god, I've already had this. This is the same thing as LAB,'" Trivisonno said.
"What an opportunity to get that level of knowledge as a junior in high school," she said. "I decided, 'When I come back, I'm going to get involved with LAB.'"
And she did. When she returned to Mentor and opened , she also joined the LAB board. And that is just one of the ways in which she helps students hone their business acumen.
Trivisonno said she helps because that is the way she was raised.
"It was my mom. She worked for a lot of nonprofits. So I was exposed to people giving back," she said. "The whole 'pay it forward' concept -- I truly believe in it.
"What if every business leader felt responsibility for the next generation of entrepreneurs?" she asked. "Imagine what the community would be like."
What 'home' means
LAB is just one of the programs in which Trivisonno helps students who are interested in business.
She is one of the mentors for E-City, a semester-long class at Harvey High School that teaches students necessary business skills.
"The students identify a business they want to start -- whether it be making jewelry, washing cars, fixing computers," Trivisonno said.
By the end of the semester, the students -- with help from their teacher and mentors -- have created a business plan.
Trivisonno has also used her experience as an accountant to help the entire Mentor Schools district. When the district was in financial crisis, she served as the treasurer on the levy committee.
She said she got involved with the levy committee because of her commitment to the community and to her family -- her husband, Mentor High football coach Steve Trivisonno, and more importantly their two daughters who were students at Mentor Schools.
"Things were being taken away from the schools," Trivisonno recalled. "Their educational process was going to be greatly changed (if the district did not get out of its financial crisis.) And this is my community. I went to this school. I didn't want to see it go down."
Trivisonno's loyalty to Mentor and its community is central to her ethos.
"We are Cardinals," she said of her and her husband. "I feel we're living the absolute dream to move back to this community and help the next generation."
Trivisonno added that her daughters, who will both be teachers, have learned the importance of helping others -- just as she learned it from her mother.
"We've impressed upon them what 'home' means and what Mentor is," she said.