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The Power of Mentorship

Brooke Rouse

Mentorship in professional development is especially beneficial to women leaders, whether those mentors are male or female.  Some women are hesitant to ask for help, others crave constant feedback;  finding a balanced support system of mentors and mentees allows you to continue learning from other perspectives.

                A circle of mentors should include some diversity in experience, age, gender and other defining characteristics. It should include people within your industry and outside your industry, people you know well, and people who are just acquaintances. In some cases a mentor may be a paid coach, lawyer or advisor of another sort. The key to establishing a truly productive mentorship balance is engaging people who will tell you what you need to hear, and what you want to hear…not always at the same time. Personal, emotional, and professional feedback can come in many forms and it is good to have someone on speed-dial for the variety of scenarios you face as a businesswoman and leader.

                The power of mentorship between women of different ages and experience levels has been gaining momentum in the Canton-Potsdam college towns of St. Lawrence County. In 2014 the Young Women’s Leadership Institute of the North Country (YWLI) formed as a partnership between the four colleges and the local chapter of the American Association for University Women (AAUW) and has quickly recruited a number of active and diverse professionals from the county. According to their website ( ), the group notes their vision as being “… a membership institute providing opportunities for women to come together from the area colleges and engage with each other, with mentors and other resources in the community, enhancing the leadership development options for young women”.  Professional women in the area mentor college students and the college students have teamed up with middle and high school women. An annual conference and special speaker and networking events throughout the year have helped the board realize that there is a critical role to be played in developing young women leaders.

                Listening and learning, that is what mentorship is; age does not define a mentor. As many professionals in the YWLI have found, they are learning so much from college students, as well as connecting with each other as mentors. Likewise, college students are finding great value in their conversations with older and younger women. A study by LinkedIn in 2014 found that only one in five women have mentors, yet business success, poverty reduction, fair pay and higher GDP have all been identified as impacts of female mentorship.

                Finding the time to be a mentor or seek out mentors often takes a back seat to being a mom, a business leader, a wife, sister or daughter. Making a goal of one hour per month is a great start. It does not always have to be in person, as Google hangouts, Skype and a variety of online networks allow you to connect at any time of day or night. Mentorship does not have to be formal; it can happen over a cup of coffee or a walk (good self-care!) In addition to making a difference in someone else’s life, leaving a legacy, and helping to shape the next generation, you too will benefit from a growing network, a reduced feeling of isolation, fresh ideas, and the opportunity to further your own leadership skills.

BROOKE ROUSE is executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Promotion Agent. She is a business owner, holds a master’s degree in tourism and is a former SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center Advisor. Contact her at or 315-386-4000.

March 2015 Healthy Women Feature Story: Mentorship

Start with you through mentorship

Lecelle Providence, a mementorship and physical well-being coach, hugs one of her clients recently at her fitness club, Total I.M.P.A.C., 55 Main St., Gouverneur. A good mentor can help in times of stress. Photo by Melanie Kimbler-Lago, NNY Business.

Lecelle Providence, a mementorship and physical well-being coach, hugs one of her clients recently at her fitness club, Total I.M.P.A.C., 55 Main St., Gouverneur. A good mentor can help in times of stress. Photo by Melanie Kimbler-Lago, NNY Business.

Come together to create a ‘force that is really powerful’

By Joleene Moody
NNY Business

When it comes to dealing with challenging situations, moving through rough relationships or even getting into better physical and mental shape, there’s no question that we can make it through with love and support from friends or family. But sometimes the push we need or encouragement we desire isn’t readily available. Friends get too busy. Family gets too involved. And without our super-weapon of reassurance, we may shut down or give up completely. [Read more…]

Gaining a hands-on experience: Y summer youth employment program puts students in business

High school students Angela M. Stenfeldt and Isiah M. Clayton interned at Tunes 92.5 Radio as part of the YMCA's summer youth employment program. Photo by Norm Johnston.

Angela M. Stenfeldt and Isiah M. Clayton don’t have your typical first summer job.

They’re not baby sitting or washing dishes at a restaurant. The teenagers have been on air, live on location, and have run contests and promotions for WBLH Tunes 92.5 FM as part of the YMCA’s summer youth employment program.

[Read more…]

Young women future of tech field

Information technology spending is projected to increase 6.9 percent to $1.8 trillion this year, and 20 percent of that spending will continue to go to mobile and social technologies. This will cause significant management and security headaches as these trends continue to reshape the IT industry. One of the greatest new challenges to enterprises large and small is trying to make sense of an ever growing, new found abundance of free flowing customer data.

[Read more…]

May 2015: Nonprofits Today

Volunteers add value to nonprofits

Columnist Rande Richardson

Columnist Rande Richardson

In the world of philanthropy, there is a desire to find the alignment of passion, purpose and planning, always recognizing that giving back includes time, talent and treasure, all working together for greater impact. One of the most competitive advantages nonprofit organizations hold is the availability of volunteers. Our region’s charitable organizations have both the need and privilege of attracting individuals who, like donors, make a conscious choice to support and advance an organization’s work and mission. Nearly 63 million Americans volunteered at least once during 2014. For many nonprofits, operating without volunteers would be impossible. [Read more…]