Mentorship makes the world go round. Whether you’re looking to improve a skill, learn something new, or just seeking some advice or an opinion, a mentor can lend an ear to listen or a guiding hand to help push you in the right direction. And in the process, the mentor also benefits by sharpening their skills and creating deeper connections within the community. That’s what our “Grow to Lead” mentorship program is all about.
Since September of 2021, six mentorship pairs (consisting of leaders in both the local arts and business communities) have been working together to navigate challenges and strengthen a number of skills in the areas of leadership, communications, fundraising, strategic planning and more. These pairs will work together until June.
As a mentor, Connie Boland (a freelance journalist, communications professional and Adult Basic Education Instructor) says the program has given her the chance to share her skills, while providing the opportunity to get to know her mentee (Nancy Dahn, an Artistic Director with the Tuckamore Festival) and learn more about chamber music along the way.
“Mentors and mentees learn from each other by working together. I was interested in this program because it provided an opportunity for me to share skills and knowledge honed during more than 35 years as a communicator. It also gave me the opportunity to learn more about the challenges and opportunities of growing a non-profit organization,” says Boland (who, she adds, is a lifelong learner, proudly completing a Bachelor of Education in 2020 at age 53).
“Prior to getting involved, I had no experience with chamber music. Nancy’s passion, her drive and determination, helped me understand the nuanced aspects of chamber music, as well as some of the difficulties facing organizations that depend on sponsorships.”
Because she was located in Nain for much of the mentorship, Boland adds, “I learned the value of working online and being able to pivot when faced with unexpected complications.”
For Dahn, the program has given her the chance to fine-tune her communications skills, helping her to better convey the mission of the Tuckamore Festival (which takes place this year from August 8-21) and the value of the arts in general. The pair also worked with another volunteer who shared information on public speaking and presenting to sponsors and businesses.
“We sort of live in our little silos of artistic worlds, and I didn’t feel I knew how to communicate what we were about to non-musicians. In terms of fundraising effectively, I often found myself in situations where I just didn’t really know what to say, didn’t know how to articulate what we do in a confident and clear way” Dahn says.
“They (the mentors) were willing to really listen and learn about chamber music…it was so valuable for me to be working directly with them and hear their perspective…and they were willing to really sort of get into the weeds about what it is we do, how the festival works, and that then became the basis for developing a really effective pitch,” she adds.
“They were super supportive, had a lot of great advice and brought a lot of expertise in many different areas.”
For anyone who may be considering becoming a mentor but aren’t sure if they have enough time, or even expertise, to share, Boland has three simple words: “Just do it.”
“The time commitment is minimal and as you build a relationship with your mentee, you will find that your meeting time is more get together than meeting,” she says.
“I very much look forward to our monthly sessions, not only to track progress but to catch up. When you work with someone closely, you quickly become friends.”
Cover photo of Duo Concertante by Greg Locke.