Who mentored the candidates for governor?

With the Massachusetts state primary election taking place this coming Tuesday September 9th, we at Mass Mentoring wanted to make sure that the next leader of our state knows how mentoring and empowering relationships for youth can strengthen communities. To that end, we reached out to each of the candidates for Governor and asked them to give their thoughts on mentoring. Regardless of who wins the primary and then the general election in November, MMP will continue its work of educating our public officials on the power of mentoring to change lives and strengthen communities. Click here to find your election information and don’t forget to vote on Tuesday!

Charlie Baker (R)

Charlie vertical headshot

Why do you believe mentoring is important?
The 20 years I spent as a Big to my Little guiding him through school, later college and masters programs, and serving as the best man at his wedding is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life. They perform better than almost any other kind of program when it comes to trying to help young people find their way in the world. Mentors actually bend the trajectory of the lives of the people that they touch, results that show up over and over in studies. These programs have a profoundly significant impact on the mentors themselves. When talking about them, people always mention the impact they have on the kids, but I’d like more of us to remember the incredibly life-changing effects they have for the mentors as well. It was a pleasure to serve on the board of the Boston Big Brothers & Big Sisters and an honor to co-host their annual gala in 2013.

Who are some of your mentors and what impact did those individuals have on your life?
Working under Governors Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci helped affirm my belief that state government can be better and positively impact the lives of people who need it the most. I am proud to have worked with my mentor Governor Weld as secretary of Health and Human Services to get every homeless family out of motels, into stable living conditions, and back on their feet to rebuild their lives. Governor Paul Cellucci imparted to me that despite political or ideological differences, everyone can find common ground and come together to solve big problems. His compassion and guidance will always stay with me. Learn more about Charlie Baker here!

Don Berwick (D)

Don Berwick Headshot 2

Why do you believe mentoring is important?
Mentors can come in many forms—parents, family members, friends, teachers, even doctors. As a pediatrician, I have seen first-hand the incredible value mentoring can have on the development of a young person. And I have seen the devastating effects of failing to provide consistent guidance and support. Mentors provide many of the tools necessary for children to realize their potential. But it’s not a one-way street. Helping young people find their path has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life – in many cases it has been just as rewarding for me as it has for my protégés.

Who are some of your mentors and what impact did those individuals have on your life?
My parents were some of my first mentors. My father was the only doctor in our small town, and some of my earliest memories were of his car starting in the middle of the night to go help someone in need. My mother was an activist—she got the local school built. They instilled in me a strong belief that when you see someone in need, you stop, roll up your sleeves, and help. These values have guided in my career as a doctor and executive and how my wife Ann and I have raised our children. And they are a major reason why I am running for governor—to help create a compassionate Commonwealth guided by the values of social justice, equality, and compassion that I learned from my earliest mentors. Learn more about Don Berwick here!

Martha Coakley (D)

AG Coakley Headshot

Why do you believe mentoring is important?
I believe that having a strong, positive mentor can have an enormous impact on anyone’s life, especially that of a young person. Good mentors can be both role models and support systems, helping another person set goals and then empowering them to reach the goals they set for themselves. Throughout my campaign, I have talked about the importance of early intervention and investment, from violence prevention to education to mental health care. Too much of the time we are reacting, and spending more money, rather than investing in basic principles like mentorship, which could help keep young people in school, out of jail, and help them realize their full potential. And the benefits of mentorship don’t stop with young people, adults can benefit from having strong mentors throughout their lives, and mentoring someone else can be an incredible rewarding, empowering experience. Mentorship is a powerful tool, one that should be utilized more as part of our effort to help people realize their full potential and expand opportunity for everyone in Massachusetts.

Who are some of your mentors and what impact did those individuals have on your life?
When I was a member of the first fully co-ed class to attend Williams College, Nancy McIntire was the first female Dean of the college. Nancy was a role model and mentor for me and many other women at Williams as we worked to overcome the challenges that still faced women, both on a college campus and throughout society. She helped me cement my commitment to fighting for equality, fairness, and opportunity, and she and I have remained good friends. Learn more about Martha Coakley here!

Evan Falchuk (I)

Evan Falchuk

Why do you believe mentoring is important?
A good mentor helps you avoid the mistakes they’ve made in their lives. Which of course means that whatever mistakes you make in your life are all yours – either you didn’t listen to your mentor’s advice, or you discovered a new way to fall short of your expectations. This is really the larger point about mentorship. A good mentor is someone who helps you see yourself, who helps you learn who you *are*. A good mentor helps you like and respect yourself, to find joy and gratitude in every aspect of your life, and is there to listen to you in times of difficulty. Having a mentor – or being one – is a gift, and a blessing, and always changes your life for the better.

Who are some of your mentors and what impact did those individuals have on your life?
The most important mentor I’ve had is a man named George Kaye, who passed away earlier this year. I miss him very much and find myself thinking “what would George say?” when I run into a challenge. I met George through an executive leadership and mentoring group called Vistage that I have been a member of for almost a decade. George had a way of kindly, but firmly, telling you when you were missing the core, underlying problem. He would always want to know about the things in my life that were making me happy, and encouraged me to make sure more of my life was filled with those things. Learn more about Evan Falchuk here!

Steve Grossman (D)

Steve Grossman

Why do you believe mentoring is important?
Mentors, whether they are friends, colleagues, teachers, or family members, inspire us to become better leaders throughout our lives. Mentoring empowers the next generation of leaders to create a vision for the future and to effect meaningful social change.

Who are some of your mentors and what impact did those individuals have on your life?
My principal political mentor was my uncle Jerome Grossman, who died last December at 96. He taught me the power of grassroots organizing and political activism to effect sustained progressive, societal change.

Another mentor who provided me with a strong spiritual and moral compass was Leonard “Leibel” Fein, who recently died. We met in 1977 when he was a scholar-in-residence for a Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) young leadership development program. He taught me the meaning of Isaiah 58:10, a passage I have tried to live by ever since and which is the guiding principle in my life and my work for social and economic justice.

Finally, the great civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, with whom I developed a relationship when I spent time in Washington, has taught me how an extraordinary act of courage can change lives and change a nation. He put his life on the line in fighting for the civil rights and civil liberties of African-Americans. His life’s work exemplifies what true leadership is all about. Learn more about Steve Grossman here!

Jeff McCormick (I)

Jeff McCormick

Why do you believe mentoring is important?
I believe that mentoring –the enhancement of one person by the positive behaviors and attention of another — is the very foundation of growth. Mentoring programs, like The Mass Mentoring Partnership, are particularly important for young people who may not have had this relationship in their lives. Personally, my life has been significantly shaped by my mentors – from my parents and siblings, to my teachers, coaches and advisers. I want every child, regardless of their family dynamics, to have this same necessary ingredient. Fortunately, mentoring relationships are mutually beneficial which makes the Mentoring Partnership such a win-win.

Who are some of your mentors and what impact did those individuals have on your life?
I have been fortunate to have had several formal and informal mentors in my life. My high school football, basketball, baseball and lacrosse coaches were constantly teaching me lessons having less to do with sports and more to do with life. Hard work, resiliency, teamwork, fair play, and yes even grace (often under pressure) were some of the lessons. I had many public school teachers who took a special interest in me and helped keep me on the right path to being a strong student. I was fortunate that through lacrosse I met many Native American leaders, including the Faith keeper of the Iroquois Nation, Oren Lyons – who taught me about history and their environmental philosophies. I have had a few key mentors in business who helped me think through the early stages of the company I founded, Saturn Partners, as well helping me with various issues that arose as we built companies in areas like software, energy and education. I feel extremely blessed by some of the guidance I have received throughout my life, but I feel equally blessed by the friendships that have been fostered from these relationships. Learn more about Jeff McCormick here!

Making memories through the Red Sox Mentoring Challenge

Raymond with his mentee Jonathan.

Raymond with his mentee Jonathan.

Since 2005, Mass Mentoring Partnership has teamed up with the Boston Red Sox for the Red Sox Mentoring Challenge (RSMC), an initiative designed to recruit more caring Massachusetts adults as mentors. In light of this year’s RSMC, we asked our participating programs to reflect on how the initiative has strengthened their program and recruitment efforts. Raymond Thibault, a mentor from South Boston T.E.A.M., shares his experience.

Hello Mass Mentoring Partnership readers! My name is Raymond Thibault, I am a Polymer Scientist working for NuLabel Technologies in East Providence, RI. Just two years ago, I was living in South Boston and I accepted the Red Sox Mentoring Challenge by applying to be a mentor with South Boston T.E.A.M. (Together Engaging Adolescents through Mentoring). Shortly after being accepted into the program, I was matched with a very bright and incredibly personable 11-year-old named Jonathan.

Jonathan and I have been matched for 18 months now, and looking back, most of our time together has been spent either playing, watching, or talking about sports. One of our first Meet-Ups was going to Mentoring Night at Fenway Park in May of 2013. That was Jonathan’s first time at Fenway and we quickly discovered we shared a love for the Red Sox. Ever since that evening, I like to remind him that he is a very spoiled Red Sox fan. While the 2013 World Series team was one of his first Red Sox memories, 1986 World Series team was mine! And now as Jonathan approaches high school, we have been trying out different sports that he can play at school. This autumn, he plans to join the football team for the first time, so we are experimenting to find his favorite position.

If you are on the fence about mentoring, I say just go for it. The time commitment is minimal and you will have a solid support system in your program’s staff. There are plenty of statistics to understand how you will have a tremendous impact on an at-risk youth, however, these don’t mention what I think is the best part about being a mentor: you get to see everything through a fresh set of eyes when you are with your mentee. Seeing things through Jonathan’s perspective, I was able to re-experience my first visit to Fenway, my first roller coaster ride, my first time seeing Star Wars, and my first Duck Boat Ride. My list is still growing, where will yours start?

How my year of service helped me

In honor of National Volunteer Month (April), we asked Sandy Ho, a Highland Street AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring from 2009-10 to share her thoughts on her year of service. Sandy was most recently the program coordinator for the Thrive Mentoring program at Easter Seals Massachusetts


Sandy, bottom right. Image courtesy of Easter Seals

During my 2009-2010 year of AmeriCorps service at Roxbury Community College (RCC), I created a mentoring program that served first-generation community college students, called Mentoring for Success.

Among my many memorable moments are meeting students looking for guidance for personal and academic success. As first-generation students pursuing higher education, many students had set out to obtain educational goals few others in their lives and families had reached. I quickly learned that to successfully adapt a mentoring program to RCC, it would require creating a program that would advocate for its students needs. A program that would involve members of the college community collaborating around this effort was key to the development of Mentoring for Success. As a newly minted college graduate at the time, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to implement a program that would sustain and continue to benefit a community when my AmeriCorps year of service concluded.

The list of take-aways from my year of service are endless: knowledge of the Massachusetts education system, access to higher education, learning the challenges of first-generation students, seeing the lasting benefits of mentoring.

The ones that I sought in my next role were that of community-building, and advocacy. I became involved with Easter Seals Massachusetts, whose mission is to “provide services to ensure that children and adults with disabilities have equal opportunities to live, learn, work, and play.” At Easter Seals, I have been able to work with advocates and disability civil rights activists young and old.

As the Thrive Mentoring program coordinator, I was able to develop and implement a mentoring program that serves transitional-age young women with disabilities. Through one-on-one mentoring, each young woman is paired with an older woman with a disability in her community. For many of the young women in the program, she is frequently the only disabled person in her family, school, or community setting. Working with a community that is finding its own way as individuals was something already familiar to me from my experiences at RCC. The Thrive Mentoring Program culminates in a conference that brings mentees and mentors together for a weekend of discussion, bonding, and community building to empower disabled young women to become successful adults who are proud of their disability identity (including my own!).

Now, whether serving on the Easter Seals MA Board of Directors, as a volunteer, or youth leader – I am discovering that one of the first necessities to create any positive social impact is to gather the support of individuals. I’m fortunate to have discovered that mentoring not only brings people together, it also ensures lasting change.

Meet our runners: Helen Bohnenberger

PrintThanks to the John Hancock 2014 Non-Profit Marathon Program, Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) was presented with an amazing opportunity to once again participate in the B.A.A. Boston Marathon® on April 21, 2014. We also have a cohort of dedicated and resilient runners who ran for Team MMP in 2013 and are returning to run in 2014 and help fuel the mentoring movement in Massachusetts. We want you to meet our amazing runners. Let’s go Team MMP!

Helen Bohnenberger picRunner: Helen Bohnenberger
Hometown: Falmouth, MA
Occupation: Registered nurse at Cape Cod Hospital Mugar 4
If your life were a movie, what would you title it?: Hurricane’s Hurricane
Longest run to date or previous marathons completed: First marathon! First half marathon completed in February; longest run 15 miles
Favorite song to listen to while running: Til I Collapse by Eminem
Favorite post-run snack: Peanut butter and banana sandwich
Favorite way to work out besides running: Playing field hockey!

  1. What inspired you to run the 2014 Boston Marathon for MMP? I set a goal for myself to run the marathon for a charity, despite how hard and competitive it would be. MMP was a charity I had not previously heard of before. I found out about the charity through a family friend, and was interviewed for the number. Once I learned more about the program, I felt such a strong connection right away. I want the youth of MA to have the same opportunities and guidance that I did from amazing mentors in my own life. The mentors and mentees from the mentoring programs that MMP works with, as well as mentors in my own life, are inspiring me to run Boston 2014.
  2. What has been the most rewarding experience of your training and/or fundraising so far? My first race I ever ran was on Feb. 22 of this year, and it was a half marathon. When I began my training, running anything over two miles was difficult for me – I played field hockey for 10 years and our training was mainly short distance and sprinting. Crossing the finish line for the half marathon, and completing my first-ever race was exciting and humbling. I saw amazing things that day, which pushed me to do my personal best and to continue on this rewarding journey.
  3. Tell me about your experience with mentoring. Who has been a significant mentor to you? I have had the privilege to have many wonderful mentors in my life. First and foremost, my family members have all been great mentors leading me in the right direction and encouraging all my dreams.

    Beyond that though, I think it is extremely important to acknowledge my field hockey coaches. The lessons I have learned on the field about how to work as a team, how to be a good person, and how to “throw some dirt on it and keep playing,” have proved to be some of the most important life lessons. I may not have always gotten the playing time I wanted, may not have always heard the critiques I wanted to hear, and sometimes had to talk to coaches in adult situations, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it. There is no doubt in my mind that each coach of mine has pushed me to my full potential preparing me for the “real world” off the field. And for that, I am forever grateful for my coaches who mentored me through 10 years and some really important stages in my life.

  4. How have you seen mentoring working in your community? In my community, the Best Buddies program works in amazing ways. Our program has special need students and Falmouth High School students paired up for fun activities and interactions. All kids really enjoy this program. My mom and brother are both really involved in it. There’s homework help, time just to talk, fun activities to do together, and both students learning from each other.
  5. If you were mentoring yourself at age 10, what’s one piece of advice would you give? I would tell my 10-year-old self to listen more and talk less. Everyone is on their own journey in this life and everyone has stories to tell. Learn from each other. There are kind people in this world and mean people as well, but don’t let either be a standard of how you judge people. Look at the individual and try to learn from them.
  6. Complete this sentence: When I finish the 2014 Marathon, I will I will celebrate by…Eating a pizza, hugging my mom, and enjoying Boston for the night with the medal around my neck!

If you would like to read more about Helen or make a donation to her fundraising, please visit her fundraising page

The benefits of youth-initiated mentoring

By Dyana Collins, Highland Street Corps Ambassador of Mentoring at the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club and Mass Mentoring Partnership

DyanaYouth Initiated Mentoring (YIM) is a technique used by mentoring programs where youth recruit their own mentors from their personal networks rather than have a mentor assigned through the agency.

Mentoring programs can utilize this approach by inviting their mentees to explore mentor options beyond the mentoring site. Mentees can suggest people from their own social networks (such as coaches, teachers, family, friends, etc.) to become their mentors, and form close relationships with people with whom they already have an interpersonal connection. The program would then connect with the mentor candidate and work with him or her to form a close match.

While initial research has been completed with older mentors and adolescents, the program could be used with adult populations to help encourage self-advocacy and effective networking. For younger populations, it is best to encourage parents and guardians to tap into their own social networks.

The YIM technique was proven effective in a study (Schwartz, S., Rhodes, J., Spencer, R., & Grossman, J. (in press.) Youth initiated mentoring: Investigating a new approach to working with vulnerable adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology. (2013)) involving 1,000 youth from different mentoring sites. 55 percent of the youth chose mentors from their personal networks, while the other 45 percent received help from parents, guardians or program staff. The results show that while the mentee relationships with assigned mentors decreased dramatically, the number of YIM matches decreased the least: 1 in 2 mentees were still in contact with their mentors even after programming.

With the YIM Model, mentees can effectively communicate what they want in a mentor, identify potential candidates, and actively seek them out in the community. Mentees voiced positive feedback for their mentors, particularly for their social-emotional support (showing reliable, caring, and consistent behavior), the guidance and encouragement to stay on track with goals and good habits, and instrumental assistance (helping to find a job, life skills, etc.). These qualities helped to enhance rapport and establish a stronger relationship between matches.

For more on youth initiated mentoring, check out the posts on the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring

Building a Quality Mentoring Program training can benefit all mentoring programs

By Nate Baum, manager of training and technical assistance

NateMass Mentoring’s training and technical assistance team is excited to close out March with our two-day intensive Building a Quality Mentoring Program workshop on March 26 and March 27.

Now, you may say to yourself, “hold on, two days! I don’t know if I can devote that much time to this.” That is an understandable sentiment considering how busy we all are at our organizations. What I’ll say is that the two days you spend at this training might more than pay for itself in time saved later on when you can more confidently operate your mentoring program with best practices. Let me explain.

This training will afford you an incredibly rich learning experience. You’ll have the chance to think thoughtfully about how to write and design your organization’s founding mission, goals, and objectives. You’ll be able to develop your mentor recruitment plan, practice interviewing volunteers, apply systems of match support, and think thoughtfully about what risk management practices you’ll need at your agency.

Building-a-Quality-ProgramOur trainings focus strongly on collaboration and active involvement from the participants. We care deeply about your ability to apply the concepts that we deliver, and there are meaningful activities that are seamlessly woven into the course. Many of the activities will require you to start some of the work that you would have to do in carrying out the steps of starting or running a program. You will also have a chance to connect with other professionals in the field, and hear other ideas and practices that might be useful as you move forward.

Now, this training does focus on designing and building a program. However, even if you work for an already established program, the training’s take-aways you can are priceless. The next time you need to rethink the goals of your organization’s mission or develop a strategic plan – an ongoing and revisited task – your understanding of the relevant concepts will be greatly reinforced. This training will also expose you to best practices in recruitment, screening, training, matching and all the other aspects of operating a high quality mentoring program as mentioned in the Elements of Effective Practice.

So in spite of what can be seen as a large investment in time, please know that attending this training should more than pay for itself in time and practices saved from being able to start, operate, and manage a youth-serving program in alignment with high quality principles. Being able to leave this training with a strong plan in place will benefit not only you and your staff, but also for the young people your agency serves.

You can learn more and register here for our two-day Building a Quality Mentoring Program training on Wednesday, March 26 and Thursday, March 27. You can see some of the other rich training opportunities Mass Mentoring has to offer here.

Why your staff needs a personal branding plan too

By MMP Director of Marketing & Public Awareness Rich Greif

1073767_10201347446389990_1203884008_oRaising the profile of a nonprofit’s CEO and senior leaders is vital to strengthening an organization’s brand and positioning its expertise in a range of social issues. Slowly but surely, nonprofit leaders are going beyond traditional methods like public speaking and media opportunities and engaging their current and potential stakeholders through social media, blogging, videos, online chats, op-eds and other tools. Complementing your organization’s communications efforts with targeted outreach by senior leaders adds a human voice to your interaction with stakeholders while also building the personal brand and credibility of your leaders. But what about the rest of your staff? Shouldn’t their voice, expertise and connection to different networks and organizations be leveraged too? And shouldn’t nonprofits be developing future leaders by encouraging their employees to think strategically about their personal brand?

Whether we realize it or not, we all have a personal brand. How you are perceived by your co-workers, colleagues and other external audiences is a reflection of how you act in person, on the phone, via email and other writing, on social media, in your communications at meetings and events, etc.. The question is whether you are intentionally working to build your profile to uniquely define and shape who you are, what you bring to the table and why it matters. Like any good product or service, it takes time, effort and commitment to develop and sustain a strong brand.

Build Your Personal Brand1So how can nonprofits help staff build their brand? At Mass Mentoring, we’re asking all staff across the organization this year to develop a personal branding plan with specific activities they will do throughout the year to raise their profile. We recognize not all staff want to be public speakers or are active on social media, but there are still lots of ways you can build your brand online or offline. Here are some examples we shared with staff:

  • Share Mass Mentoring/mentoring field content or content related to your area of expertise on social media or other relevant sites
  • Write a blog or news article for us or other organizations on your area of expertise
  • Comment on relevant new articles related to mentoring or your area of expertise.
  • Speak or present at a meeting (internal or external) or at an event/meeting/class in mentoring or a relevant field
  • Attend networking or other relevant events
  • Become a member in an organization in your field
  • Send an alumni update to your college alumni publication about the work you are doing
  • Serve on a nonprofit board, committee or other volunteer opportunity
  • Improve your online professional presence (i.e. your LinkedIn profile)

These are just examples and we encouraged staff to incorporate these and other ideas into their plan. The only caveat we gave is that these need to be new activities this year.

We often take for granted that the work we do takes place in one context (i.e. a project, meeting, training, webinar, event, etc.) and that what we’ve read, seen or learned could be of value to others. We hope that by encouraging staff to share their expertise, get engaged in the community and improve their public profile, we will not only be developing future leaders in the nonprofit world, but in turn, we’ll be strengthening our brand and what it means to us to lead a mentoring movement.

How about you? What is your organization doing to help raise the profile of its staff? We’d love to hear examples that we can share with our staff.