Today is Thank Your Mentor Day!

Because of the significance of today, those of us here at would like to individually thank the mentors who have had a great impact and influence on us throughout our lives.

From Michelle Derosier (Director of Programs at

I am a true representation of the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” I was that child and my village consisted of my family, my church, my teachers, and a sprinkling of strangers throughout the years. These individuals were instrumental in providing a foundation for the development of my values and beliefs.
The most important person in said village was (and probably still is) my grandfather – the man who nurtured and mentored me throughout most of my life. My grandfather is a man who “could have been somebody” in the materialistic sense of the statement. He is perceptive, clever with numbers, and annoyingly adept at learning new languages. However, my grandfather spent most of his adult life working menial jobs and catering to those who are “somebody.” He did so not because he lacked focus or determination, but because he chose to surrender his success for that of his family. Instead of going to school when he arrived in the U.S. from Haiti in the 70s, he spent decades working to afford to bring his children and extended family members to America for a better life. His desire for higher education was never fulfilled, but his labor paid for countless degrees and full access to the American Dream.

As I watch the state of Haiti today I am especially thankful for my grandfather’s sacrifice and overall guidance.

From Kate Schrauth (Executive Director at

There have been many people in my life that I consider mentors, but one stands out among the rest.  As a young professional in the nonprofit world, I was fortunate to meet Mel King, an activist, community organizer, teacher and Founder of MIT’s Community Fellows Program.  As I worked to create and grow a new organization I helped to found in Boston, Mel provided not only advice and expertise on community building and organizational development, but even more importantly, shared his philosophies on communities and the power of love and forgiveness to create social change.  Mel King, for me, is a gift who continues to this day to provide me a sense of confidence and hope as I continue to champion the young people with whom I am privileged enough to work.  I often wonder what life may have held for me without Mel’s influence.  I am grateful beyond words for his perspective, advice and most of all, his smile.

From Elizabeth Moran (Director of Strategic Development at

Thoughtful, encouraging, inspiring and, most importantly, candid…these are the words that come to mind when I think of my mentor. I remember a situation that was particularly challenging for me…I was disappointed because I did not get an exciting project I wanted. Basically, she talked me off the ledge.  It wasn’t just her reminding me of my strengths and accomplishments, it was also her challenging me to not over-react to the situation.  I have appreciated her encouraging words, as well as her courage to tell me things I didn’t want to hear, all of which have helped me learn and grow.

From Jake Kersey (Program Manager at

I’ve been blessed with a multitude of mentors over the years; caring teachers, coaches, and – above all – family members have had a constant and profound impact on shaping me into the person I am today, and rarely have I faced a challenge without the confidence that accompanies such a broad, nurturing network of support. With this in mind, I’d like to recognize a mentor of mine who probably never saw himself as such. Mr. Jon Downing, my good friend Michael’s father, dedicated every ounce of his considerable energy to cultivating a warm, stable home for his 3 children. Raising them mostly on his own, Mr. Downing’s work ethic was impressive enough that even as kids, we used to marvel at how tirelessly he toiled to ensure Michael and his siblings never wanted for anything. By example alone Mr. Downing helped me come to appreciate the sacrifices my own father had made to foster a peaceful and prosperous home environment. Despite an exhaustive work schedule, Jon seldom missed an opportunity to make his home the hub of his children’s community, hosting countless barbeques, reveling amidst milestones and impromptu gatherings alike, always projecting mischievous humor and open-mindedness to any who passed through his door. Such sustained and sincere commitment to one’s family inspired sufficient admiration and respect on its own; however, Jon Downing extended this commitment beyond his family to the community he helped construct around them. In doing so he taught me that mentoring needn’t take place over a sustained period, through any sort of conventional means, or with any defined expectations or outcomes. Rather, at a time when I had been rattled by a series of external crises and perceived personal failures, Mr. Downing reached out to me, reminding me that I had a community, and that he was a caring and concerned part of it. It was a small and momentary gesture; we didn’t go on to talk through any issues or restore equilibrium to my unsteady world. In fact, we never mentioned the interaction again. Still, the power of that simple action, that moment of empathetic outreach, continues to astound and inspire me. The many overt mentors in my life are there to steady and support me through whatever challenges I’m able to conjure up each day. But Mr. Downing taught me that mentoring can take place within a moment, and resonate for a lifetime, and for that I’ll always be thankful.


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