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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Scott Dishong

Chief Executive Officer

Make-A-Wish Colorado

Location: Centennial, CO

Founded: 1983

Industry: Non-Profit

Scott Dishong found out at an early age that being passionate about what you do matters, and he made career decisions based on that mantra. In his case, what mattered was working on something that could make a difference.

“I decided to move from the for-profit world into nonprofit management,” he said. “In 2019, I had the opportunity to become the second CEO in the history of Make-A-Wish Colorado. While it can be difficult to follow a founder, I took a risk, and it paid off. I couldn’t be happier. I really enjoy our work and I stepped into a great organization because of the amazing path that our founder, Joan Mazak, forged.”

Make-A-Wish Colorado was founded as one of the first Make-AWish chapters in 1983, and this year it is celebrating 40 years of granting wishes to children across the state.

When the pandemic hit, the business of Make-A-Wish was affected from every angle. No longer could Make-A-Wish send immunocompromised children on a plane to Walt Disney World, nor could they host in-person fundraising events to grant more wishes. However, under Dishong’s leadership, the organization retained staff and switched to virtual events — and continued to grant wishes.

“My first real job out of college was with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. At Enterprise, I learned that if you take care of your customers and employees, success will follow,” Dishong said. “I have followed that same principle for my entire career. Leaders who put their people and customers first will have an easier path to success.”

Dishong helped shift the organization’s fundraising efforts to focus less on event revenue and more on individual donor relationships, planned giving and major gifts. With Dishong at the helm, Make-A-Wish Colorado’s Kids For Wish Kids event doubled year-over-year to $1.8 million. He has focused on markets outside Denver, recruiting board members and volunteers, and extending medical outreach to ensure the nonprofit reaches and represents every eligible child. In 2023, the nonprofit plans to grant 430 wishes, the most in a single year in the organization’s 40-year history.

“Under Scott’s leadership, this goal is not just audacious, but attainable,” the nonprofit said. “Scott is a titan, a leader and a role model in the nonprofit industry. Scott chalks his success up to his motto: ‘work hard and be kind.’ If every leader in every industry followed Scott’s advice, the world would be a better place. That’s what makes him a titan.”

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Scott is a karaoke connoisseur who can bring down any house with stirring renditions of cult classics like “Friends in Low Places,” to pop hits from Harry Styles’ most recent album. And no, he has never had a lesson.


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