By Laura Ohata
Northwest Asian Weekly
Behind every successful person stands a series of mentors. Whether it is providing advice on office politics or an endorsement for a job promotion, mentors play a pivotal role in the development of leadership. Women and members of minority groups need additional attention to advance in their careers, because they are underrepresented in management. Women of color face both racial and gender-based discrimination in the workplace. As such, Amazing Women Mentors —Volunteering as a way of life was the topic of discussion at the Women of Color Empowered luncheon last Friday.
Close to 300 people gathered at China Harbor Restaurant in Seattle to recognize honorees, who shared their wisdom related to mentorship. Founded in 1996 by the Northwest Asian Weekly, Women of Color Empowered invites women of all races, and even men, to share a meal and discuss three times a year. This year, the emcee was Dr. Jean Hernandez, president of Edmonds Community College. Here are a few takeaways from the event:
“Know your purpose. What is it that you want to share? Your presence and capability give confidence to others. Be a good example.”
—Isabelle Gonn, administrative manager, Nordstrom Technology and voluntary mentor for Chinese Girls Trill Team
“All of us are here because someone else gave us a hand.”
—Regina Glenn, president of Pacific Communication
“I believe that every one of us has a skill. I advocate to make sure that we have people of color no matter where we are at, and that we have everyone represented. We do the best we can. All of you know what it is like to go to meetings in organizations and maybe we are the only one there. It is very hard to advocate, and say, ‘Well, we need more opinions, and diversity.’ Sometimes it is accepted and sometimes it is not. What I am happy to see is that more and more people are opening up their minds, and saying, ‘Yeah, you are right. We need to have the different skills. We need to know that everyone’s opinion counts.’ That is really the heart of diversity. It is not just in color, it is in everything.”
—Lourdes Salazar, volunteer program coordinator at the City of Bellevue.
“Be supportive and encouraging. I had great mentors. I take it as a responsibility to help other people because other people helped me. Anybody can be your mentor, of all races and colors. That is why I am a mentor, because I have been mentored.”
—Dian Ferguson, interim director, Central Area Seniors Center
A mentor doesn’t have to be famous at all. It could be someone in the neighborhood who performs everyday acts of small greatness. People like Dr. Paul Famer, a Harvard educated physician who conducts humanitarian work in places like Haiti and currently fights Ebola in Rwanda. Look around the community for small acts of greatness… Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t mentor other women.”
—Stephanie Bowman, commissioner, Port of Seattle (end)
Laura Ohata can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.