Summit Fellows Spotlight: Q&A with Dawn Shannon of C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc.

Dawn Shannon, Program Coordinator, C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. (Children Have Options in Choosing Experiences) Louisville, KY
April 10th, 2018
Posted In: National Mentoring Month Blog Series

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With the generous founding support of AT&T, MENTOR launched the Summit Fellowship Program in 2016 to provide professional development scholarships to mentoring program leaders facing financial constraints to attend our National Mentoring Summit. In 2017, thanks to additional investments, MENTOR expanded the Program and provided fifteen scholarships to dedicated leaders from mentoring programs operating with a budget of $150,000 or less.

In the Summit Fellows Spotlight series, the 2018 Fellows reflect on their experiences at the Summit and the lessons they’ve brought back to their local communities and programs.

Dawn Shannon, Program Coordinator, C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. (Children Have Options in Choosing Experiences) Louisville, KY

Q: Why was it important for you to attend the National Mentoring Summit, and how did you think that it would impact you and your organization?

A: As C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. serves out its 30th year, sustainability strategies must be reviewed that not only support but also increase capacity. Being a small grassroots agency with two staff members attempting to create, let alone implement, strategies is a tall task; however, it’s not an impossible feat with the desired resources. My attendance at the National Mentoring Summit was an imperative step in searching for and establishing connections to acquire the desired resources. As a naturally reserved person, small talk can be a struggle at time. The Summit provides a more intimate way to try to get to know others and represent my agency proudly. Learning to be more comfortable with giving ‘elevator speeches” about our cross-age peer mentoring will help in establishing relations that could be fruitful resources to increase agency and program sustainability securing enough for expansion.


Q: What did you learn from the Summit that you have brought back to your organization?

A: I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my experience at the Summit with my colleagues, board members, family and friends. Listening to others share stories about program structure helped me to identify how our program differs. It was a good way to see weakness and strengths through dialogue with other practitioners. By attending the Summit I was able to hear how similar small-staff agencies address issues of capacity building, especially regarding data collection. I have shared how by tailoring fundraising efforts we can possibly afford certain services to ease the collection process. Most excitingly, I’ve shared with the agency how we can use Google Sheets and other products to help digitize some forms. Lastly, I was able to begin a conversation with AmeriCorps about using a parent agency to gain Vistas.


Q: Why is it important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?

A: As the field of mentoring becomes more publicly accepted, it’s imperative that practitioners have professional development and peer networking opportunities. There are types of mentoring still limited in their research, such as cross-age peer mentoring, that through professional development and networking these gaps may be addressed. It will require several practitioners’ efforts to continue to validate the field and bring on board more government, corporate, and philanthropist support. Unified support for those three areas will hopefully make mentoring a way of our world.

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