As the only national convening of youth mentoring practitioners, researchers, philanthropic partners and leaders, the National Mentoring Summit provides attendees with an opportunity to engage in skill building, peer learning, advocacy and networking. Every year since the Summit’s founding, MENTOR has received requests from mentoring practitioners who want to attend and learn to improve their program quality, deepen their impact and scale their efforts but who, given their organization’s limited budget, require financial assistance.
In response to these requests and with the generous founding support of AT&T, MENTOR launched the Summit Fellowship Program in 2016 to provide scholarships to nine leaders from mentoring programs with limited resources. As many in the mentoring field know, this type of work requires unyielding passion and a selfless commitment to others, but unfortunately, on far too many occasions due to financial constraints, does not provide access to professional development opportunities. That is why this year we are thrilled to be able to increase the Fellows cohort and offer 15 Fellowships to mentoring practitioners across the country! This is can only be made possible by the generous Fellows sponsors.
Summit Fellows are selected based on their leadership potential and experience, eagerness to build their professional skills and networks, demonstrated financial need, and personal commitment to helping young people succeed. The 2019 Summit Fellows Cohort represents a diverse group of dedicated practitioners whose mentoring programs are committed to quality and continuously innovating to make a greater impact on young people in their communities. Read about them below, and, if you are attending the Summit in January, make sure to say hello!
2019 Summit Fellows
Founder, Mentoring Mentors
Alphonso Mayo is the founder of Mentoring Mentors, a nonprofit organization that’s changing outcomes for young Black males in the city of Baltimore. Mentoring Mentors engages with youth of color from the ages of 12-18 who have experienced trauma directly and indirectly. The ultimate goal is to support their development as mentors into adulthood. Alphonso believes that one missing component in most mentoring programs is a focus on developing a pipeline of black mentors to be paired with black youth, so he founded Mentoring Mentors to bridge that gap. In 2014, Alphonso graduated from Stevenson University.
Director of Development, CASA of the River Region (@CASAriverregion)
Amabelle is the Director of Development for CASA of the River Region, a nonprofit that provides trained volunteer advocates/mentors to children who have been abused/neglected. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications & a Masters in Social Work. Formerly the Marketing & Communications Manager for SHELTER, Inc., a California-based family homelessness nonprofit, Amabelle has over a decade of experience in nonprofit communications & strategic consulting. She was a CASA volunteer advocate and a mentor for high school students in California, as well as a hospital patient advocate in Louisville, Kentucky.
Mentoring & Outreach Coordinator, Pendleton Place for Children and Families (@PendletonPlace)
Greenville, South Carolina
Ethan is a graduate of Winthrop University with a Master’s in Social Work and lives in Greenville, South Carolina. After serving his graduate internship with Pendleton Place, he was excited to be offered the new position as the Mentoring & Outreach Coordinator. Ethan is passionate about social justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and connecting young adults with the tools and relationships they need to become empowered to live their best life. Three facts about Ethan: He’s an introvert that loves people, he reads Harry Potter every night before bed, and he makes a darn good apple pie.
Program Coordinator, TransMentor (@Lurieadolescentmedicine)
Josephine Kearns (she/her) is the founding Program Coordinator for the TransMentor program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the first mentorship program for transgender youth in the United States. In her role she also conducts training sessions around gender diversity for schools, hospitals, and other organizations. Additionally Josephine is a freelance educator, consultant, and theatre artist specializing in transgender, intersex, and queer issues. She holds a B.A. in theatre from George Washington University.
CAP Coordinator, Thrive (@Allthrive)
Julie Grimm-Lisk is passionate about providing youth with experiences and support to increase success. Julie works to implement, develop, and coordinate youth programming. She believes that mentoring relationships prove invaluable to improving children’s social skills, increasing confidence, helping children to learn and discovering new ideas, interests, and fresh perspectives. Julie has a deep appreciation of the outdoors. Big Sky, Montana is her gateway into the mountains. Julie graduated from Carroll College, where she majored in History and minored in Psychology.
Program Administrator, Adolescent Mentoring Program at UAB
La’Rhonda Scott is the Program Administrator for University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Adolescent Mentoring Program. This program works with juvenile offenders by matching them with responsible and caring adult mentors in an effort to reduce the risk of recidivism. She believes that more often than not, the children we work with want to make healthy choices, and that most of them fail because they don’t have positive role models they trust and believe in who can help them set and achieve goals to live a long and prosperous lifestyle. La’Rhonda has worked with the University of Alabama at Birmingham for 4 years.
Academic Director and Mentor Coordinator, Steel City Squash (@Steelcitysquash)
Megan Sommers is the Academic Director/Mentor Coordinator at Steel City Squash, which is an academic and athletic program that provides life-changing opportunities through education, mentoring, travel, community service and the sport of squash to children from low-income families in Pittsburgh. Megan truly believes that children are the future and are capable of learning at a high level. She believes that youth should not be judged by their circumstances or backgrounds, but instead by their intelligence, resilience and point of view that can change the world.
Program Coordinator, TeamMates Mentoring of Grand Island
Grand Island, Nebraska
Nancy Jones is the Program Coordinator at TeamMates Mentoring of Grand Island. She has been with TeamMates for over 15 years. TeamMates is a school based mentoring program that positively impacts the world by inspiring youth to reach their full potential through mentoring. TeamMates of Grand Island serves middle and high school students in all four school districts in Grand Island, Nebraska. Helping to build relationship bridges between students and mentors is her passion. Being a part of an exceptional mentoring program is her blessing.
Program Assistant, Alaska Geographic Association (@AlaskaGeographic)
The son of South Sudanese immigrants to the United States, Reth Duir was raised in the Midwest but now proudly calls Alaska home. He is a Program Assistant for Alaska Geographic’s Education Department. He formerly was a U.S Arctic Youth Ambassador. He helps lead and grow youth programs with the overall goal of making public lands more accessible and relevant to all Alaskans. Reth is spearheading initiatives to connect with diverse youth, and partnering with organizations such as the UAA Multicultural Center and Anchorage Boys’ and Girls’ Club in the process.
Executive Director, Ascend Mentoring (@AscendMentoringCT)
Mr. Herrera has over 20 years of non-profit experience, specifically in the fields of youth and community development. Mr. Herrera has filled different roles at several youth and family serving organizations in the greater Hartford region from program assistant to the executive director. He brings expertise in program development and management, positive youth development, mentor training and recruitment, fiscal management, staff development, and community outreach. His personal philosophy for life is PEACE: Positive Energy Activates Constant Elevation.
Match Supervisor, Power 4 Youth (@Power4youthmentoring)
Long Beach, California
Samana Budhathoki is the Match Supervisor at Power 4 Youth, a one-on-one mentoring program for at-risk middle and high school students in Long Beach, California. She is a believer and advocate of human connection, the power of community and solidarity. She passionately trusts in the power of mentoring because of all the success stories she has seen firsthand during her time in mentoring and in Power 4 Youth for the last six years. Samana is a certified Yoga Instructor and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University. Samana is multilingual, fluently speaking Nepalese, Hindi, Japanese, and English.
Mentoring Program Coordinator, Family Violence Initiative
Steve currently works at Northern Arizona University on a statewide project as the Mentoring Program Coordinator. Steve received a M.Ed. in Counseling/Human Relation from Northern Arizona University; B.A. in Sociology from California State University Northridge; and a Life/Relationship Coaching Certification through Life Impact LLC. He is also board chair for an organization called Fathers 4 Scholars. His other interests include learning about mentor program development and presenting locally and nationally on various subjects concerning child and family wellbeing.
Founder, Better Youth, Inc. (@BetterYouthlive)
Los Angeles, California
Syd Stewart is a poet, actor, filmmaker, and founder of Better Youth, Inc. Better Youth is a nonprofit organization which uses mentoring and media arts to equip young people with creative confidence. Aside from her work with Better Youth, she is the author of two books of poetry, a 2017 New York Stage and Film filmmaker fellow, and 2016 semifinalist for Universal Pictures Emerging Writers Program. She resides in Los Angeles. She is excited to share best practices and to network with other youth development agencies at this year’s National Mentoring Summit.
Executive Director, B’Fly Girls, Inc. (@BFlyGirlsInc)
Toya Russell became Executive Director of B’Fly Girls, Inc. in Septmber of 2011. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, her pathway to success began with meeting her mentor at her first job after university. Together with her mentor, they managed and ran 3 individual nonprofits over the course of 12 years. With her now 20 years of nonprofit experience, Toya has elevated B’Fly Girls’ programming to serve 400+ girls in more than 50 schools in the metro Atlanta area. Toya dreams to expand B’Fly Girls programming on a national level, to serve girls in urban communities across the nation.
Senior Program Coordinator, America SCORES New York (@americascoresny)
New York City, New York
Zahkiya Brown is a Bronx native with a keen background in fashion merchandising, building partnerships and coaching youth. She seeks to build and master her craft, while serving as a continual vessel for local youth. Working with America SCORES New York as an organization has allowed her to focus on her impact as a community youth leader and advocate. Zahkiya looks forward to learning and furthering her education on youth mentoring and coaching.