MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership
January 7th, 2019
Posted In: Corporate Engagement, National Mentoring Month Blog Series, National Mentoring Summit, Recognition

Tags: , , ,

MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership is proud to announce this year’s recipients of the Excellence in Mentoring Awards! These awards are presented annually to individuals and organizations that have made tremendous contributions to young people and the mentoring field. Held at a special Library of Congress reception, this Excellence in Mentoring Awards Dinner will kick off the ninth-annual National Mentoring Summit. This year, we are excited to present Excellence in Mentoring Awards across four categories: Corporate Leadership, Impactful Philanthropy, Lifetime Achievement, and Public Elevation.

Corporate Leadership
Given to an employee from a company listed on the National Corporate Honor Roll who both volunteers their time as a youth mentor and mobilizes others to engage in the mentoring movement.

2019 Honoree
Fred Skolnik, Partner, Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP
Fred Skolnik is a partner in the Corporate/Securities Law Practice Group of Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, an East Meadow, New York law firm.  Fred established the firm’s Long Island corporate and securities law practice in 1987 after many years of practice in the firm’s New York City office. A frequent speaker on topics related to corporate and securities law, Fred has served the Nassau County Bar Association as Chair of both the Corporation Law Committee and the Securities Law Committee. Fred’s practice relates primarily to the representation of public and private companies in connection with equity and debt financings, mergers and acquisitions, securities transactions, and general corporate and business matters. Fred is a member of the Board of Directors of Mentor New York, which creates and supports mentoring programs throughout New York State. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Farmingdale College Foundation, which provides financial assistance, including scholarships, for Farmingdale State College programs and projects not funded by the New York State budget. Fred is a co-founder and the administrator of LIKE (Lawyers Involved in Kids’ Education), a program that establishes mentoring relationships between attorneys and potentially “at-risk” elementary school students and seeks to develop analytical and vocabulary skills, confidence and self-esteem in the mentees through word and number games.

Impactful Philanthropy
Given to a foundation, company, individual philanthropist or board member who has made a significant impact on young people through investment of time and funds in mentoring programs, MENTOR Affiliates and/or mentoring initiatives.

2019 Honoree
Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. Making medicines is just one way that Genentech makes a difference – employees are passionate about applying their skills, time and resources to positively impact the patients they serve, the scientific community, and the places where they live and work. For over a decade, Genentech has been an active supporter of the mentoring movement. In 2008 Genentech launched Gene Academy, which provides weekly after-school mentoring to third through fifth graders from the South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD). Each student has two dedicated Genentech volunteer mentors and together they work on homework or participate in hands-on experiments designed to spark enthusiasm for science. Throughout the past 10 years, 2,000 employees have mentored more than 1,000 students. More recently, Gene Academy mentors began moving beyond purely academic support to include social and emotional skills training. These learning opportunities help students to develop a growth mindset, which is something Genentech mentors have also found valuable to their own personal and career development. With the success of Gene Academy, Genentech decided to double down on its efforts by reaching kids in middle and high school. In 2015, Genentech launched Futurelab – a $25 million investment in a hyper-local, public-private partnership with the SSFUSD. Futurelab is helping to address some of the significant challenges faced by SSFUSD students by providing opportunities for hands-on engagement in STEM and valuable employee-student mentoring at key points in students’ education.

Lifetime Achievement
Given to an individual who has dedicated their life’s work to supporting youth through mentoring programs.

2019 Honoree
Kenneth Ward, Executive Director, College Bound, Inc.
Kenneth Ward is currently the Executive Director of College Bound, Inc. in Washington, D.C. As a Fulbright Memorial scholar in Japan and a seasoned D.C. educator and administrator for 15 years, he has been instrumental in creating academic and personal enrichment programs for students.  Since 2000, he has taken participants on life-changing international trips annually where they explore their historical and cultural roots; visiting schools, universities, local villages, and slave castles. He has participated in the International Teacher Exchange program where he studied best practices in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia and has also volunteered in Ethiopia. Kenneth holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he matriculated on a Pogue Scholarship and a Master’s degree in education from Trinity University. He was hired as the Executive Director of College Bound in 2009. During his tenure at College Bound, he has opened three workplace mentoring sites and implemented a Virtual Mentoring Program designed to support the program’s alumni to college degree completion. Under his leadership, College Bound has increased the amount of scholarship dollars awarded more than 200% and more than tripled the number of students served by College Bound. Kenneth participated in the Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program at Georgetown and was bestowed the 2012 Harvey Elliott Beech Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of North Carolina for his outstanding personal achievements that reflect well upon him, his community and the university. Kenneth returns often to his hometown of Enfield, N.C. to create opportunities to educate and expose local youth to cultural and educational activities. He knows first-hand the power of education and works to erase the achievement gap. He serves on the Advisory Board at UNC for the Learning and Writing Center and is an active member of the Perry Community Center Services Center and Achievement Prep Academic boards. A life member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc, Mr. Ward most recently received the 2017 UNC Alumni Diversity Award.

Public Elevation
Given to an individual who uses their influence and public platform to support mentoring opportunities for youth .

2019 Honoree
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago
Rahm Emanuel is the 55th mayor of the City of Chicago. Since his election in 2011, Mayor Emanuel has led major investments across education, mentorship, youth programming, neighborhood development, transportation, infrastructure, public health, and public safety. Over Mayor Emanuel’s tenure, Chicago’s students have experienced record education gains, while the city has led the nation in corporate relocations for five consecutive years, and led the nation in foreign direct-investment for six consecutive years. Mayor Emanuel has also marked record progress in reducing Chicago’s structural deficit from $635.6 million in 2012 to $97.9 million for 2019 – the lowest it has been since 2007. Previously, Mayor Emanuel served as White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama, three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Illinois’ 5th District, and was a key member of the Clinton White House. He is married to Amy Rule, and they have three children.

MENTOR is also pleased to recognize the following outstanding finalists in each Excellence in Mentoring Category: 


Jeff Danley

As a 17-year Starbucks partner, Jeff’s coffee journey has afforded him many opportunities, taking him to origin in Costa Rica, including a role on the Starbucks Coffee Advisory Council.  He has served as chair of the Mid-Atlantic Armed Forces Network, as well, completed an assignment as a field consultant within the Global Responsibility and Public Policy Team.  Currently, serving as sponsor of our Starbucks Access Alliance regional chapter, Jeff is proud of the impact his team has created through collaborative partnerships with cross functional teams to create opportunity including a first of its kind, in-store “Inclusion academy” here in Baltimore City, providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In the role of regional director, Jeff’s passions are to help others see and realize what they never dreamed possible.  With coffee serving as the vehicle, mentoring, inspiring, and developing young people throughout his market has translated into hundreds of employment opportunities, career exploration, and a model for building the business through the lens of humanity, and as Starbucks would say, one person, one cup & one neighborhood at a time.

Jenna Erickson
The Libra Group

Jenna has been in a Human Resources role at the Libra Group for three years. As Libra’s Human Resources Officer, Jenna has been an active supporter of the Libra Group Internship Program as both a mentor and a “buddy.” The Libra Group Internship program offers unique paid opportunities for undergraduate students to intern with the Libra Group and its 30 global subsidiaries in locations including New York, Miami, London and Athens.  As a buddy in the program, Jenna’s role is to function as the interns’ main point of contact and support in the workplace, while in the mentor role, she serves to provide professional management, goal-setting, and performance reviews. She is also a supporter of the Libra Mentorship Program, a support structure for selected young people – principally first-generation college students and individuals who face socio-economic challenges (significantly, opportunity and achievement gaps, and the high incidence of inequality among young people of color). Jenna attributes her success in mentoring to her own wonderful mentors with whom she has had the pleasure to work in her career. Jenna also credits her background in teaching with her natural ability to encourage and lift her mentees to their potential. 


Robin Hilgart
New Pathways for Youth

Robin is Manager of Personnel Growth and Development at HILGARTWILSION, a local Phoenix company, where she is responsible for employee recruiting, employee development and chairs the company’s Community Involvement Committee. Prior to her most recent position at HILGARTWILSON, Robin was the Operations Manager where her responsibilities included human resources, finance and accounting, marketing and business operations.  Prior to joining HILGARTWILSON, Robin had a twenty-three-year career at UPS. Her career offered a variety of management responsibilities in Customer Service, Business Development, Training and Marketing, Operations and Congressional Awareness. Robin has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Originally from Wisconsin, Robin and her husband Ron have called Arizona their home for the past thirty-three years. They are the parents of three adult, married children and have eight grandchildren. Robin enjoys spending time with family and especially time with her grandchildren, who lovingly and affectionately call her “Woohoo”. Robin has been a mentor for over five years and has served on New Pathways for Youth’s Board of Directors since 2015 and as the Board Chair since July 2017.

Dr. Renaldo C. Blocker
The “Why You?” Initiative

Dr. Blocker is the CEO/Co-Founder of the “Why You?” Initiative, Inc. (“[YU?]”), a nonprofit organization established in 2011 to eradicate barriers to students and young professionals’ success by effectively delivering longitudinal support/mentoring via a fusion of technological and traditional mediums. Dr. Blocker is also an Associate Consultant and Associate Professor in the Department of Healthcare Systems Engineering at Mayo Clinic. He served as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and is an Adjunct Professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He earned his Ph.D and a Masters from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a concentration in Human Factors and Ergonomics. Also, Dr. Blocker received a master’s degree in Computer Science from San Francisco State University.  Dr. Blocker received bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Albany State University. His primary area of research focus is human factors.  He conducts empirical research studies to ameliorate complex healthcare system issues by redesigning processes, tools and technologies.  He’s “re-engineering what it means to be a mentor and be mentored” by employing a systems engineering approach to mentorship that has provided desirable outcomes.


Rebecca Hatter
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

In April 2019, Becky will celebrate her 25th anniversary as President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO) and a total of 31 years, founding BBBS in Central Louisiana and serving as VP, Programs at BBBS Greater Atlanta for 4.5 years.  Under Becky’s leadership, BBBSEMO has grown from serving 300 youth annually to 2,400 annually. BBBSEMO is frequently recognized for its program quality and innovations.  In 2005, the agency launched ABCToday®, an early warning and response system, focused on improving student Attendance, Behavior and Course performance. In 2013, Becky was honored by President Obama at a White House reception and named a Champion for Change in educating African American youth. In 2014, BBBSEMO extended its support through the post-secondary years, creating a comprehensive initiative focused on Little Brothers and Little Sisters earning a living wage by age 26. In November of 2014, Becky was named to the Ferguson Commission, created following the death of Michael Brown. Becky served as Chair, Child Well-Being and Education Equity Work Group. Today she remains a steadfast and vocal advocate, within the mentoring community, for racial and economic equity.

Joshua W. Murfree Jr.
100 Black Men of America

Dr. Murfree serves at the Chief Operations Officer for the Fulton DeKalb Hospital Authority which is the owner of the Grady Health System in Atlanta, Georgia.  As in his prior leadership positions, he comes with enthusiasm, energy and passion with the desire to make a difference before making a change in the platform of any organization.   Dr. Murfree served as the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at both Fort Valley and Albany State Universities.  He has been a successful School Superintendent, Director for the Center of the African-American Male, Director of the Honor’s Program, Vice-Chairman of Operations, Vice-Chairman of Programs, Departmental Chairman, as well a Full Professor with Tenure. Dr. Murfree was recognized as a 2012 nominee for Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia School Superintendent’s Association. He has served in other leadership roles as Executive Assistant to the President, Administrative Chief of Staff and Interim Vice-President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. Dr. Murfree served as the National/International Mentoring Chairman of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and was recognized and honored as the author, architect and creator of a comprehensive mentoring known as “Mentoring the 100 Way [now Mentoring the 100 Way Across a Lifetime].”  The Program serves 125 thousand children and youth across 31 states and two International chapters located in Turks and Caicos and London, England.

Liz O’Neill
Boys and Girls Clubs BBBS Edmonton and Area

Liz O’Neill is the Executive Director of the amalgamated Boys and Girls Club and Big Brother Big Sister agency in her community. The agency serves over 5700 children and youth and 3200 active mentors with 124 staff and a budget of $7.5 million dollars. Liz is the one of the three co-chairs of the Alberta Mentoring Partnership and a member of the Board of the Edmonton Community Foundation. Liz also serves on the Strategic Planning Committee of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada and the Pan Canadian Mentoring Committee of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. She has received the YMCA Women of Distinction Award and has received the 125th Government of Canada Medal and the Alberta Centennial Media for Community Services. Liz also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Alberta in 2017. 


Rodney McLeod
Philadelphia Eagles

Rodney McLeod was born in Washington DC and raised in Prince George’s County Maryland. He is a graduate of Dematha Catholic High School, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Virginia in 2012. He is currently the starting safety for the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Shortly before winning a Super Bowl Rodney opened a clothing store Back of House located in Pentagon City Mall. Outside of making plays on the field, Rodney loves making plays in the community. He works closely with American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Student Health Impact Project (SHIP), CF Charities, and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). Rodney McLeod is passionate about helping shape our youth to not allow their fears to decide their future, but to rise up and make the choice to succeed. As a supporter of BBBS he has helped raise funds and elevated their work to the sports community. In 2017 Rodney launched an awareness and recruitment campaign for BBBS called Mentoring is Brotherhood, in which he headlined 3 meet-and-greets across BBBS’s service area, garnered media spots, and engendered the support of Senator Anthony Williams. Sixty-five men applied to be Big Brothers as a result of the campaign. Rodney is also a mentor himself, and appeared with Little Brother Isaiah in a campaign sponsored by Honda.

Mayor Jean Stothert
City of Omaha

Mayor Stothert is the 51st and current mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. She is the first woman to hold the office and was sworn in as Mayor on June 10, 2013. She was re-elected on May 10, 2017. Mayor Stothert earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Seattle Pacific University. She began her career in nursing. Her 12 years as a critical care nurse and nursing manager included serving as head nurse at St. Louis University. Mayor Stothert has been a strong advocate for youth mentoring for more than six years. She has helped elevate the mentoring movement through her involvement with mentor recruitment campaigns, the Corporate Mentoring Challenge, Mayors for Mentoring, and financial support to Omaha mentoring programs. For the past six years, Mayor Stothert has partnered with Midlands Mentoring Partnership to promote mentor recruitment campaigns during National Mentoring Month. She is a passionate advocate and has regularly spoken about the benefits of mentoring at press conferences, luncheons and other events. In addition to being a spokesperson for mentoring, Mayor Stothert has provided $10,000 in community service funds to help recruit mentors for the past three years. Mayor Stothert’s support of mentoring has impacted hundreds or youth throughout the Omaha Metro area.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *