I’m writing this blog in the middle of a Tuesday and currently have the camp song “Little Sally Walker” stuck in my head. That may seem like a random detail, but for me, that song is tied closely to my first mentor experience.
Twelve years ago, I was a Junior in Girls Scouts and my troop and I were asked to lead the new Brownies in our area in their first-ever weekly activity. For our first foray into mentorship and leadership, we decided to teach the younger girls games from our own Girl Scout Camp experiences. The most notable of those games was Little Sally Walker. When this activity was announced I didn’t think about the role I would be playing as a leader and mentor for this Brownie troop, but the weight of mentoring hit me as soon as I saw all their faces looking at me expectantly. My troop friends and I were frozen and silent as we faced these younger girls. Luckily, our Troop leader was there to help guide us as we taught the younger girls what a Girl Scout meeting looks like. After a bumpy start, the afternoon was a huge success and the power of mentorship, and the “Little Sally Walker” song have stuck with me since.
In that one meeting, there were three layers of mentor and mentee relationships interacting. The willingness of my mentor to teach me how to lead and then giving me the space to implement those teachings is what made that afternoon such a success. This small introduction to mentorship helped me understand the role mentors play in personal development and showed me how I too could become a successful mentor. The first step to success as a mentee is absorbing everything you are taught. Knowing how to make the most out of a mentorship experience will determine the impact and lasting effect of the mentorship process. For this reason, Women’s ALI created the ALI Mentor Alliance program.
What is the Mentor Alliance?
The Mentor Alliance is a unique mentorship program developed by Women’s ALI as a vital part of the year-long ALI Fellowship experience. This program pairs each ALI Fellow with an ALI Mentor who is a professional in their specific field of interest. We also ensure that our mentors are passionate about the next generations of artists. These mentor-mentee relationships begin before our Summer Leadership Intensive and their first official meeting happens during that event. We recommend that ALI Fellows meet with their mentors quarterly throughout the one-year fellowship. Each pairing within the program is unique as each ALI Fellow sets the tone of this mentorship - they are encouraged to take charge of instigating contact with their mentor and take ownership of their mentorship experience.
Women’s ALI designed this program to stimulate the relationships and mentorships that exist in the professional arts sphere. Fellows are provided with an opportunity and will get out of the experience as much as they put into it. All relationships require effort and a mentor-mentee relationship is no exception.
Chelsea Wilson, one of our 2020 Mentors, said of the Mentor Alliance:
“It’s so important for young female artists to have concrete examples of what it looks like to succeed in their chosen field.”
How does Women’s ALI pair ALI Fellows with their mentors?
What makes our ALI Mentor Alliance unique is that the pairing of mentors and mentees is not randomly assigned. Once an ALI Fellow is accepted into our year-long fellowship program they meet with an ALI team member for an interview about their specific interests, future goals, and expectations of our program. Based on this interview our team then approaches professionals in the specific field of interest of that ALI Fellow to create a pairing that will be beneficial for both. Merinda Christensen, 2020 ALI Fellow, described of her experience,
“My mentor alliance has given me the opportunity to turn to someone who has experience in that field that I go in and can provide me with support and guidance as I prepare for a successful future and I will be forever grateful for that connection that I have formed with Anna since the Summer Intensive.”
Just as Merinda and our other ALI Fellow alumni, our 2021 ALI Fellows will have the chance to be paired with a mentor and have experiences like these:
“As I look forward to graduation, I feel more confident in articulating my skills as an artist. It was also a wonderful way to meet new people and connect with a mentor in my own field.” Brooke Wertwijn, 2020 ALI Fellow
“The mentor Alliance is such a powerful part of Women’s ALI fellowship and we’re grateful for all the mentors who volunteered their time in such a meaningful way.”
Emily Callens, 2020 ALI Fellow
“The bigger your network, the more likely you are to be successful.”
Leila Salari, 2020 ALI Fellow
“The support of other female artists inspires me to push myself to create art and artistic opportunities in unconventional ways. I am excited to continue working with Women’s ALI over the coming year to continue expanding my personal knowledge and building relationships with the presenters, mentors, and fellows.”
Brianna Bernhardt, 2020 ALI Fellow
“I was interested in Women’s ALI because I have been profoundly impacted by the leadership of women in my life. Before I attended college, I hadn’t been exposed to many successful, working women in the arts. Being able to create relationships with some of these women opened doors to careers that I never would’ve considered otherwise! These women have changed the course of my life and career by their example, and I want to develop skills that will allow me to do the same for young women in the future.”
Danielle Casós, 2020 ALI Fellow
“Milton Laufer is a great musicologist that Women’s Ali connected me with. He is the definitive editor of the composer ‘Albanese’ and so he kind of helped me know how to talk to publishers, how an effective copyright process works, how to get things ready for publishing. He’s been wonderful and supportive and just a doll of a person.”
Camille Jensen-Weber, 2020 ALI Fellow
Applications for 2021 ALI Fellows are open until May 1! Apply to become a Fellow or if you are a professional interested in being a mentor for our 2021 Mentor Alliance, fill out this brief contact form here.
About the author: Kamryn Passey is an Intern with Women’s ALI and a senior at Brigham Young University studying English. Kamryn loves to bake sourdough bread, crochet gifts for her nieces and nephew, and drink diet coke with lemon.