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An invitation to mentor

Originally published in CalMatters.

COMMENTARY: An invitation to mentor. These California women do

By Jennifer Haley

A new decade has begun, and I, like many of you, am seizing the opportunity to make a few aspirational resolutions.  

Mine tend to be inwardly focused – prioritizing health and family while striving for balance and growth, and, like every year, meal planning. Working toward and achieving your goals is inspirational and sometimes demoralizing (see: meal planning), but every setback is an opportunity to grow.

I’m going to challenge myself and all of you to make one more resolution in 2020: Commit to be a mentor. Resolve to help others.

My mother, Susan Delpit, has always been a force of positive energy, showing by example how kindness can lift up and better the lives of anyone in your path (even in the elevator). 

She was a mentor for our family, teaching us the importance of hard work and inspiring us to believe in ourselves and compete. The result: her three daughters all earned scholarships to play Division I college athletics.

California is a state that champions opportunity for women. Women lead in our Legislature and drive some of our most important businesses and civic organizations. The nation looks to us as a key trendsetter, so let’s make 2020 California’s year of women who lead boldly and pave the way for future generations.

I want to acknowledge some women I admire and who represent some of California’s best mentors. Directly and indirectly, their example makes me a better leader and drives me to match their energy and contribution to our state: 

Jennifer Seibel Newsom: California’s first partner hit the ground running with her announcement of a new nonprofit called the California Partners Project to expand her work uplifting women and children across the state, and which will take on gender equity in corporate America as one of its initial priorities. A Stanford-educated entrepreneur, she harnessed the power of filmmaking to drive for equality. As a government leader, Seibel Newsom is championing Equal Pay California to close the gender pay gap.

Sen. Melissa Hurtado: To me, Sen. Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger, personifies the California Dream. She is the daughter of immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from college, Sacramento State.(Stingers Up!). At 30, Hurtado became California’s youngest female senator in history, and the first Latina to represent this region in the Senate. Sen. Hurtado is a champion in the fight against hunger, launching the inaugural 2019 Hurtado Holiday Baby Formula and Infant Nutrition Drive to tackle child food insecurity. Her brave and tireless advocacy at home and in Sacramento speaks to her passion to fight for a better life for those she represents.

Denise Kruger: Denise Kruger is Senior Vice President of Golden State Water Company, a state-regulated water provider that delivers clean drinking water to one million Californians throughout the state. Denise is fiercely passionate about promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to young people, recognizing that her engineering degree was her bridge to leadership and success. The only thing Denise and I disagree on is baseball: she roots for Mike Trout and the Angels, while I know better and root for the Dodgers.

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis: A true trailblazer, she is the first woman in California history to be elected to the office, as well as the first Greek-American woman to serve as a U.S. ambassador when appointed by President Barack Obama to serve in Hungary. Prior to public service, she was president of one of the state’s most respected housing development firms, AKT Development. In her role, Lt. Gov. Kounalakis has been a fierce advocate for student access to an affordable, quality college education.

These women represent the best of California. They are diverse in their identity but united by a commitment to championing opportunities for women and working to make our state a better place. They recognize that, with their success, comes a responsibility to pay it forward and raise up the next generation of women to follow in their footsteps and beyond.

You may know that January is National Mentoring Month, so as you consider what 2020 holds for you,  let me challenge you to be a mentor. It’s as simple as being mindful of how you conduct yourself, investing your time, or even taking the leap to get involved as a formal mentor. There’s no one-size-fits-all, just be yourself, be open, and be present. I’m certain that you’ll gain just as much as you give.

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