News & Research
Illinois Mentoring Partnership Launch
October 4th marked the official launch of the Illinois Mentoring Partnership. Nearly 125 guests including our Founding Partners, Steering Committee members, and Program Leadership Council leaders gathered for a luncheon at the Harold Washington Library Center to celebrate Illinois joining 25 others states within MENTOR’s network of Mentoring Partnerships.
“The Illinois Mentoring Partnership and the mentoring programs it works with reflect the power of community and collaboration. And more poignantly the ‘me’ in each of us that anchors any movement. This work is profoundly important to the state,” said Toni Irving, Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Quinn.
Joellen Gonder-Spacek, Executive Director of the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota, spoke about the real-life impact of state mentoring partnerships and offered her advice to the Illinois partnership.
“Back in 1994, we were known as ‘Murderopolis’ so that was a big impetus for why the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota was created. Eighteen years ago we had about 100 mentor programs in our state that were serving about 50,000 kids. Today we have 400 mentoring programs in our state who serve about 170,000 young people,” said Gonder-Spacek. She added, “Think about adaptive changes versus technical changes for the work ahead of you. Think about, imagine, dream about those ways you can do something dramatically different.”
Virgil Jones, president and CEO of LINK Unlimited in Chicago and a member of the Program Leadership Council, moderated a discussion between mentor Patrick Fisher and mentee Demarcus Lacy. Lacy spoke about the challenges he faces growing up on the west side of Chicago, his mother’s persistence in making sure he gets a good education and the bond he has shared with Patrick since his freshman year at De La Salle.
“Without Patrick, I wouldn’t have a lot of positive support. Having LINK, I want to have a job and give back what was given back to me and break the cycle of poverty,” Lacy said. “Demarcus’ growth has been phenomenal. I’ve seen him be a more serious student and a serious person about his own success, which I think is propelling him to continue to beat his own personal best,” Fisher said.
Demarcus had the honor of introducing keynote speaker, Glenn Tilton, Chairman of the Midwest, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“Mentoring is a way to re-personalize an institution’s responsibility, where you create champions who come back into the organization and testify on what an enormously and powering and liberating experience it is. And that is a great value to the institution,” Tilton said.
Sheila Merry was introduced as the inaugural Executive Director of the Illinois Mentoring Partnership. Merry most recently served for more than thirteen years as Executive Director of the Jane Addams Juvenile Court Foundation. In that role, she spearheaded the comprehensive strategic planning process for reform of the Cook County Juvenile Court, employing a planning process to engage decision makers in a broader understanding of systems change to advance wide-ranging reform initiatives. Prior to leading numerous successful systems local juvenile justice reforms, Merry had an extensive career in child welfare, youth development, juvenile justice, and children’s policy research. Merry officially will start with the IL Mentoring Partnership on November 5, 2012, reporting to the organization’s Steering Committee and MENTOR.
“We are honored, blessed, privileged to be amongst all of you to help seed this effort, to help support it. We will be at your side, but we ultimately know you are your own heroes, your own community. And we are honored to stand with you as members of the national movement to advance our young people’s opportunities through mentoring and we appreciate the local movement you are building,” said David Shapiro, President and CEO of MENTOR.
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