When I think of one important mentor early in my career, I think of Dr. Helen Caldicott who recently wrote a poignant Op Ed in the New York Times. Helen founded Physicians for Social Respnsibility and Women’s Action for New Directions and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in the 1980s. She warned of catastrophic health hazards of nuclear power. Helen toured the globe writing,speaking, inspiring awareness and educating thousands of people. When I went to work for WAND she guided me to understand that the key to creating policy change was channeling concern into effective and sustainable organizations. This work led me to shift my focus and pursue graduate work and a career in organization development. My consulting work, helping clients design strategy and transform themselves, their organizations and whole communities, grew out of the profound learning I gained working with Helen and women across the country with WAND.
When I studied leadership in graduate school, I came to udnerstand that leadership is an action, not a person. THe same is true of mentoring. We need to think of acts of mentoring. I invite you to seize mentoring opportunities daily.
I also believe we can mentor people of all ages and stages, not just younger women. We all have a mentoring responsibility. Our community faces daunting challenges. Yet it is also filled to the brim with talent an possibility. We will transform our communities by nurturing that talent.
I urge you to ientify a young woman, preferably someone who was born into disadvantage. Conncet. Make a commitment to spend time together. guide her. Support her. And in years to come, let’s celebrate when these women step into roles as leaders.