by Sarah Greenman
The national launch of Statera Mentorship was announced in October 2018 at Statera’s International Conference in Milwaukee, WI. Since the announcement, regional chapters have exploded across the United States. Last month at Statera’s monthly team meeting, National Mentorship Co-Director Minita Gandhi said, “The response has been astounding.”
Mentorship is at the core of Statera's mission of taking positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the arts. Melinda Pfundstein, Statera’s Executive Director, said, “Professional mentorship for women is a positive, proactive, and proven way to counter gender imbalance in the workplace.” And as Nataki Garrett highlighted in her keynote at Statera’s national conference last October, mentor relationships build stronger talent pipelines for open leadership positions in the arts industry.
A flourishing mentor relationship helps both mentor and mentee organize their professional challenges, nurture their creative ideas and activate their personal gifts. StateraArts works to connect women artists interested in moving beyond the very real obstacles that sometimes lie between their goals and their opportunities.
The duration of each mentorship class is 6-months. StateraArts runs the program from January-June and July-December. In addition to one-on-one engagement with a mentor/mentee, each Mentorship Class enjoys a networking mixer with the entire class.
While classes are already underway in Chicago and North Carolina, the newly formed chapters will start their first class of mentorship pairings on July 1, 2019. New chapters include Boston Area, California Central Coast, Ithaca, Los Angeles, Louisville, Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, San Francisco Bay Area, and Southern Texas. And plans are already in the works for chapters in Alabama, Dallas / Fort Worth, Iowa, Salt Lake, Seattle, Southern Idaho, and Southern Utah.
“Establishing a Statera Mentorship chapter in your community is an incredibly rewarding and exciting endeavor - and you don’t have to re-invent the wheel,” says National Mentorship Co-Director Erika Haaland. StateraArts has created materials and resources that will equip regional coordinators with the tools they'll need to create a lasting and successful program. They’ll have access to organizational systems, email templates, the Statera Mentorship Field Guide, and face-time with Statera’s National Co-Directors.
Siobhan Doherty, the founder of the Los Angeles Chapter said, “It's incredible to feel like you're not building something in a void, but instead have the support of women who have done this before, and are working with you to create change for women in the arts.”
If you’re interested in engaging as a mentor or mentee (or both), please visit www.stateraarts.org/mentorship to select your region and apply. For those who have questions about Statera Mentorship, StateraArts provides an excellent FAQ page on their website: www.stateraarts.org/mentorship-faq. And for those who don’t see their region listed on the map above, National Co-Director Minita Gandhi says, “Join us! You can start a chapter at any time in your community. We’re here to help you do it.”
Lia Mortensen, a 30-year veteran actor in Chicago, went through the program last year. She says she was thrilled to be a mentor and give back to women in the business. "There was nothing like this when I was starting out,” said Mortensen. “Not only has it been an intensely rewarding experience to help my mentee in all areas of Chicago theatre, but I also discovered the wealth of knowledge I have attained over the years and the immense value of it."
Photos above are all from a 2018 Chicago Chapter mentorship mixer. (Photos by Antje Kastner)