CHANGE is the power to be BOLD. BOLD is the ability to LEAD.January 13, 2015
Let me begin by saying Hello! and Happy New Year! I am excited to be the new executive director for the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota (MPM) and I can assure you that I am not afraid to be BOLD and that I’ve had many great years of mentoring from the MPM staff and board to LEAD this wonderful organization.
As I reflect on the year to come, I think it’s fitting to share a recent comment made by my brother over the holidays while I was spending time with my parents and my three siblings and their families. My brother joked: “This is a good fit for you because you’ve never had a problem with being vocal about your beliefs!” He said this because I am the youngest of four children and have always had to make sure I had my say. For those of you who are the babies in your family, you know what I’m talking about.
My brother was right, though. I am an advocate for things about which I feel strongly, and one of those things is MENTORING. My family immigrated to the United States in 1975 from Vietnam, and we had many wonderful, caring mentors in our lives. I came to really appreciate the time these folks shared with my family even more after I graduated from college and began my career in broadcast news. One of my first phone calls post-graduation was to a well-established political reporter, Tim Skubick, who worked at the competing station in town. You see, Tim and his family were very hands-on when we first arrived to the United States and my parents had the utmost respect for him and his family. (As did I, because, after all, I ended up following in his footsteps!) I started and anchored my high school’s first news program and went on to study journalism at Michigan State University. To Tim’s surprise, I called him to thank his family for all the support they provided to us: For the countless presents they gave us kids during Christmas when we had few; for the guidance they provided to my parents; and, most importantly, for their friendship. I told him it was because of him that I pursued a career in broadcast news. Toward the end of our conversation, the man who always had something to say about Michigan politics was pretty speechless. I could hear the joy in his voice when he said he was very proud of my family and enjoyed being a part of our lives. The funny thing was that I didn’t want to let go and wasn’t ready to say goodbye. So, I continued to asked for his professional advice, which he was happy to provide, and then said to keep him posted on my developments. Those few minutes were monumental because it meant that our relationship would live on.
I believe youth who age out of mentoring programs must feel the same way I felt when they are involved in a long-term, caring mentoring relationship. Having worked for a mentoring program and with MPM’s network of mentoring programs, I know these kinds of mentoring relationships exist and are celebrated! As humans, we all need and thrive on healthy relationships, so the effort we and our stakeholders put forth to forge quality relationships are not a “good to do” but a “must do.” We must learn from, provide respect to, and guide our young people to pursue their passions and activate the spark that is innate in us all.
What I’ve been given, I intend to give back, as genuinely and as often as I can. MPM will continue to lead the charge statewide to engage more volunteers. We must ensure that youth have quality mentors other than a close family member. This is what I’m passionate about and will strive for during my tenure as executive director. Being BOLD is working and learning from our fantastic staff and board that share this vision and mission. We will LEAD with our key stakeholders and not for them. We will advocate for quality mentoring and investments in the field. We will educate about the power of relationships and the need for more mentors around the state. And we will continue to hold ourselves to high standards, just as we ask our network of mentoring programs through our quality assessment process called QMAP®.
2015 is a new decade of services for the Mentoring Partnership and we have a lot of exciting and hard work ahead of us. We stand ready to build and strengthen partnerships and support our network of mentoring programs to provide youth with the supports they need and want. I’d like to end with a quote from our Founder, Robert J. Dayton: “Sure you can do lots of things, but there’s nothing more important than what we are doing to support kids!”