History of the Statera Mentorship Program

(Photos by Antje Kastner and Malloree Delayne Hill)

The beginning

The Statera Mentorship Program officially began in January of 2016 and has been at the core of Statera’s programming ever since. The Mentorship Program was designed for theatre practitioners who identify as women and are interested in moving beyond the very real obstacles that sometimes lie between our goals and our successes. Statera believes that the most effective way to grow, expand and manifest change is to work together. A flourishing mentor relationship helps both mentor and mentee organize their professional challenges, nurture their creative ideas and activate their personal gifts. 

Statera’s original executive team (Melinda Pfundstein, Shelly Gaza, and Sarah Greenman) built the first incarnation of the program with the help of Jennifer Tuttle, who ran the national program until November 2016. While the program was very successful, Statera quickly realized they needed a larger dedicated team to run the program effectively. It was also clear that a scaled-back program with more structure would better suit the needs of the program participants.


Chicago Regional Mentorship Program

In January of 2017, just a year after the launch of the initial program, Statera partnered with Chicago-based theatre artists Erika Haaland and Minita Gandhi to build and beta-test a Chicago regional mentorship program. The new model offers mentors and mentees a structured 6-month cycle that includes local mentorship gatherings for workshops, networking, panel discussions, keynotes, and more. The Chicago program is currently running its third class of mentor pairings and has served over 200 women to date. The innovations provided by the Chicago team now make up the template for our national program.

"The Statera Mentorship Program is fantastic - both because my mentor Dana has been such a steady and inspirational person and because it was amazing to feel a sense community with so many artists who come from different backgrounds. We are all out there hustling, and knowing I'm not alone makes the every-day struggles so much easier to handle." Alison Plott, Actor: CHICAGO

"Having worked as a professional actress in Chicago for the past 30 years, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to give back and help women in the business, as there was nothing like this when I was starting out. Not only has it been an intensely rewarding experience to help my mentee in all areas of Chicago theatre I discovered the wealth of knowledge I have attained over the years and the immense value of it." Lia Mortensen, Actor: CHICAGO


North Carolina Regional Mentorship Program

Once the Chicago-based Mentorship Program was in place and running well, the Statera team opened a new chapter in the North Carolina region with a local regional director. This was the first time that the program was exported to another region, creating an entirely new chapter. The process in North Carolina further solidified the Statera Mentorship Program’s process. Each new chapter that opens receives a directory, a list of guidelines, resources, and operational materials. The Statera team has created an organizational infrastructure that allows new chapters to get up an running with ease and confidence.


Launch of the National Statera Mentorship Program

Statera is launching the national program in January of 2019. The key to the success of the Statera Mentorship Program is to keep the organizational teams local. Each theatre community has different needs. Statera will soon be opening chapters in cities across the US. Are you interested in bringing the Statera Mentorship Program to your community? Please contact us at mentorship@staterafoundation.org. We can’t wait to hear from you!