Shaping the Future: 150+ Canadian Mentoring Relationships

I’ve created a new e-book on Mentors and Mentoring in Canada. The book coincides with the celebration Canada’s 150th Anniversary. It includes more than 150 examples of mentoring relationships from all walks of life in Canada including sports, history, leadership, the arts, politics, entertainment, music, and business. I’ve also included ideas about the key principles associated with mentoring; how mentoring and coaching are the same and different; illustrations of mentoring relationships from my own life and what I learned from them; and examples of mentoring relationships experienced by well-known and lesser-known Canadians. To make it easier to find particular people and who mentored whom, I’ve included a name index. The e-book can be downloaded at no cost from 

   Feedback is welcomed and testimonials will be treasured.


The Latest Entries to Peer Resources’ Mentoring Hall of Fame

Latest Entries to the Mentor Hall of Fame

Virtually anyone can benefit from having a mentor. And most well-known, accomplished and successful people can identify people in their lives who acted as mentors.

The list of mentor pairs in the Mentor Hall of Fame was compiled by Rey Carr from a variety of sources including autobiographies, biographies, newspaper articles, personal interviews, and diligent historical research. Mentor pairs portrayed in fiction or movies are also included.

Pairings are divided into ten general categories. In most cases, mentors and their partners could be included in the same category. However, where a mentor and partner are from different career or life areas, the pairing has been placed in the partner’s category. (A few historical facts or humorous references to the term mentor are included at various places in the listings.)

The categories include

  • Actors, Comedians, Producers and Directors (Stage, Screen, and TV)
  • Mentoring relationships depicted in motion pictures and television
  • Musicians, Songwriters, and Singers
  • Classical and Broadway Musicians, Composers, Conductors, Ballet, and Modern Dancers
  • Fashion, Media, and Celebrities
  • Artists, Writers, Photographers, Publishers, Novelists, Poets
  • Mentoring relationships depicted in print (novels stories, fiction)
  • Sports Figures, Athletes, and Coaches
  • Historical, Political, Spiritual, and Civic Leaders
  • Business, Industry, Education, Science, and Medical Leaders

Here are some of the latest entries to the Mentor Hall of Fame:Kanawa-LezhnevaPrice-FlemingChambers-JonesBeau-DickChong-Darwem

Evolutionary Peer Mentoring: A Growth Group for Seniors

BreakfastOnce a week for the past eight years a group of us meet for breakfast and discuss a variety of topics. What started as a one-time breakfast meeting with former workplace colleagues to catch up on retirement progress, has evolved into a continuing peer mentoring activity that relies on an unusual structure to manage engagement.

In her article, Group Mentoring: Strategies for Success, Lois Zachary (2011) identified peer group mentoring as one of the three most commonly employed models for achieving learning goals. Our group meets all of the criteria that she identified as associated with peer mentoring, including (1) having similar interests or needs; (2) setting our own agenda; (3) engaging in self-management and self-direction; (4) managing the focus of the discussion to make sure all members’ needs are met; and (5) ensuring that each group member benefits from the knowledge, expertise, and experience of the other group members.

What’s surprising or unusual, however, about our peer mentoring group is that we have yet to discuss, consciously review, or deliberately implement any of the five criteria Dr. Zachary identified. In other words, we didn’t review options and select one that we preferred. Instead, our structure and process have evolved over time. They may continue to change, but both seem to have been achieved by what can best be called a ‘happy accident.’

Using the happy accident approach for developing a peer group meeting structure may not be suitable for everyone. It can severely test the patience of those who prefer a certain degree of structure, a set agenda, or an urge to ‘get things done.’

As an experienced group leader in other contexts, I’m (happily) surprised that this peer mentoring group has been so successful, despite violating some of the standard principles associated with effective group management. For example, a lower level of structure in most groups typically leads to low levels of participation or inconsistent engagement by various members of the group. In our group, participation is equally distributed. Each member introduces topics; some members bring materials or resources to the group to share with the others, and everyone in the group contributes to every discussion (whether they know anything about it or not).

A low structure can also make it easier for some group members to dominate discussion or process in a way the meets their needs only. While the specific interests of a particular group member may serve as a topic discussion starter, the person who initiated the topic typically asks each of the other group members for their reactions or ideas about that topic. Group members also respond with their own viewpoint, whether they are specifically asked or not. Responsibility for leadership is distributed evenly among all group members.

Another problem that can lead to difficulties in groups is the degree to which the group has established a verbalized consensus on the group’s purpose. Many groups have no way of determining the degree to which they are achieving their purpose or desired results without an overall objective. This lack of clarity typically leads to low engagement, inconsistent attendance, or dropping out completely.

Although we’ve never spoken directly about our purpose, the fact that we have been meeting consistently for eight years (with time out during certain months for holidays), indicates that the model we have developed is satisfying, effective, and successful.

The Mindfulness Process

Our current way of interacting with each other has been repeated enough times that it is possible to describe some of the elements that have contributed to the success of our peer mentoring group. If I had to come up with one term or phrase that would characterize our meetings, I would use the term ‘mindfulness.’ Our interactions seem to (1) show conscious awareness or willingness to explore our current thoughts, feelings, and opinions; (2) seek alternative views or be open and curious about the views of others; and (3) resist any tendency toward judgment and instead focus on acceptance; and (4) be willing to include a sense of presence and authenticity.

Jon Kabat-Zinn (2009) has written extensively about mindfulness and the impact it has on stress reduction, and Peer Resources Network member Doug Silsbee (2010) has centered mindfulness as a key to successful coaching interactions. While we did not purposely establish a mindfulness perspective or process in our group, it has evolved in a way to be our most consistent way of interacting with each other.


“Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.”

~ Jimmy Carter ~


Bring it Up

While variations occur in any meeting, here are the most consistent mindfulness elements of our peer group dialogue.

Many of our discussions have to do with the circumstances associated with aging, health, exercise, mood, and medical or alternative treatments. These topics probably have more to do with the fact that all the group members are over 65. But many discussions are initiated around ideas that come from books we’re reading, current events, things we’ve discovered online, or past experiences.

Regardless of the topic, the initiator typically takes some time to share, explain or expand on the topic, and, if appropriate, bring up any inner dialogue and feelings about it. Sometimes this can lead to catastrophizing, making it seem like disaster is imminent or immense. Typically when this happens it is also followed by what might be considered a creative awareness, where the current topic seems related to some past experience, fear or action.

Whatever path the initiator takes the topic, there is a pause where that person asks the other group members for their reaction, assessment, or comment.

Catch and Release

At this point, various group members express their understanding of or experience with the topic. This may include seeking clarity, sharing a similar experience, or drawing upon their own wisdom or learning.

The intention is to acknowledge the content, feelings, and perspective of the initiator, while at the same time releasing the initiator from having to hold on to negative or stressful feelings, particularly those that facilitate catastrophizing or feeling alone.

Not all topics feature emotional content. Some are more idea- or intellectually- centered. These are often discussed with the intention of focusing on meaning-making questions or comments such as ‘What do you make of that?’ or ‘This is what I gained from it when it happened to me.’

Sometimes group members share what action they have taken when faced with a similar circumstance. However, we are not what I would consider a ‘result/ action’ oriented group. That is, there doesn’t appear to be a drive on any group member’s part to figure out what to do about something. This doesn’t prevent members from asking for advice or ideas, and this often becomes a way to draw upon the wisdom and experience of group members.

Bring it In

More than 60 years ago I had a high school coach who at the end of each practice would say, “Okay fellas, bring it in.” That was the signal that the physical practice was over and we were to gather in a group around the coach. The coach would then provide feedback or comments to the players on what he observed that day, and he would encourage us to express our gratitude to other players for what we were experiencing that day.

This wasn’t always easy as some of the conflicts between us led to some nasty, snarky or sarcastic ways of doing what the coach asked us to do. At the same time, when another player authentically expressed gratitude or appreciation, it had a powerful and lasting impact.

That early experience had such a profound impact on me that I’ve carried the experience through into my personal and professional life. Using it as part of the peer mentoring group seemed like a natural and useful thing to do. Fortunately, it’s contagious. I only tried it a few times before it became a fairly common aspect of the interactions for all of us within our group. We often nish our meetings or topic discussions with a type of ‘bring it in’ activity. It’s not so much a formal procedure as it is a way to help each other replace negative thoughts or feelings with things we appreciate or are grateful for. These more personal comments to each other also allow us to express our compassion and support for each other.

Not all our group meetings follow the pattern of mindfulness, nor does each meeting always include the three elements described above. Sometimes our focus is on recalling a past event or experience, sharing stories about family adventures, agreeing that our former workplace was a better organization when we worked there or telling jokes or humourous anecdotes. I’m convinced that the flexibility in both agenda-setting and how we manage the discussion as well as the personal meaning, knowledge, and support we gain from and give to each other is the glue that has attracted us to continue to meet with each other on a regular basis.

The size and consistency of our group also matter. For the most part, there are four of us, sometimes five; and from time-to-time one of the members brings a guest. While we might be able to accomplish mindfulness with more members, a larger group might lead to inconsistent attendance and less opportunity for follow- up, and less likelihood or willingness to tune-in to our way of being with each other.

Peer mentoring, particularly for small groups of older members of a society, go far back in history. The Knights of the Roundtable, Tribal Councils, Elder Chiefs, and other forms of ancient governing practices were all examples of peer mentoring.

Peer mentoring for seniors can be a powerful way to stimulate brain functioning and learning, meet social connection needs, and enable seniors to continue to grow and develop. Could others use our system? Possibly, but the key would be how to develop a mindfulness approach that would work for that particular group. From our experience, we stumbled into it by happy accident. There are many paths to a mindful or fulfillling way to participate in peer mentoring. We’re grateful we found ours.


Kabat-Zinn, J. (2009). Letting everything become your teacher: 100 lessons in mindfulness. New York: Dell Publishing.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2006). Coming to our senses: Healing ourselves and the world through mindfulness. New York: Hyperion.

Silsbee, D. (2010). The mindful coach. Seven roles for facilitating leader development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Zachary, L. (2011). Group mentoring: Strategies for success. Peer Bulletin, 205, 12-14.


FN-Group“Conversation was never begun at once, nor in a hurried manner. No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation. Silence was meaningful with the Lakota, and his granting a space of silence to the speech-maker and his own moment of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regard for the rule that, “thought comes before speech.”

~ Luther Standing Bear (1868-1939) ~

Ogala Sioux Chief

Using Quotes About Mentoring

quotemarksQuotes are a valuable way to create value in mentoring. They can serve as a source of inspiration, an acknowledgment of value gained, a tool for clarifying ideas and act as a catalyst for reflection and learning.

Over the years, I have collected a variety of quotes which I originally used in workshops, training, lectures and professional publications. Sometimes quotes lend credibility to ideas since many of the quotes come from well-known persons in history or contemporary society.

Quotes can also be used as a basis for discussion of ideas and meaning. I’ve also used the quotes as the basis for an experiential exercise with participants by asking a question about the quote such as ‘how might this relate to your experience?’ You may find that a quote reminds you of a story or anecdote. Maybe the quote has a special meaning for you.

I have created an e-book filled with some of my favourite quotes. In the e-book, I’ve provided an opportunity for users to make notes or add reflections about the quotes to make them more useful in discussing mentoring or conducting training sessions.

Some quotes specifically mention “mentoring” and others represent concepts or perspectives related to mentoring. The quotes are meant to generate ideas about what personal philosophy or perspective might be reflected in the quote.

Rather than just providing a quote in an attractive font with an interesting background— as is typically found on social media or within various books and magazines—I wanted to honour the person quoted by

  • including a photo of the person,
  • providing a link to learn more about the person, and, if available,
  • adding that person’s mentor or whom that person mentored.

A note on the accuracy of attribution of the quotes in the e-book. The Internet can provide multiple sources for verifying the source of a quote, but sometimes false attribution can be so widespread that the person who actually created what was being quoted gets completely lost. We’ve done everything we can to verify the accuracy of these quotes and their source. If you find an alternative origin, please let us know. I’ve also included quotes about quotes that reflect humorous or satirical viewpoints on the accuracy of quotes.

This e-book is free to SpiritMentor blog readers and can be downloaded here –>


Bringing Out Our Inner Life

Peer Counsellor Workbook CoverWhen the first edition of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul was published in 1997, I was delighted that an excerpt from one of Peer Resources’ books (The Peer Helper’s Workbook) as well as contact details for our organization were included in this soon-to-be a best-selling book.

But the inclusion of our toll-free number as part of our contact details had unexpected consequences. Perhaps because Peer Resources had the only telephone number listed in that edition, we received many calls and letters from young people wanting to know how they could submit a story for the Chicken Soup series. Some of the callers and writers, however, just wanted someone to talk to about a life circumstance that was unbearable or troubling.

phone_listeningOne of these calls, from a 14-year old youth, started out as a request for information about how to deal with peer pressure. Within a few minutes, the story shifted dramatically from a focus on peers to a deep sense of helplessness and depression about communicating his worries and anxieties to his parents. Both parents, according to the caller, believed he should be able to handle his peers in an effective way and he should be able to stand up for himself. To do any less meant that he was incompetent and worthless.

Whether his parents actually held these views is less important than his perception that they did. He believed his parents did not understand him. He had given up seeing them as a resource to help him, and he was lost as to what do about his situation.

What he had tried was getting him into trouble at school, reducing his attention to school work, and contributing to rage toward his peers. He felt angry, hurt, and abandoned.

How many young people can tell a similar story? Feeling cut-off with no one who understands. Not knowing who to turn to for help. Giving up and burying their feelings. Turning fears into rage.

How often has this experience led a young person to suicide or violence toward others? How many times in the aftermath of a tragedy do we hear phrases such as “he was just a quiet person,” or “I would have never thought he/she could do this,” or “we thought he/she was just weird.”

How many young people are torn between their secret inner life and what they show on the outside?

The teen who called us was developing a secret inner life. A life that would not only be hidden from his parents and his peers, but might eventually become hidden from his own awareness.

We all have an inner life. The danger is when we become cut off from our inner world and do not have the tools or support to restore this connection. This disconnection severely hampers our emotional intelligence and reduces our ability to learn from life experiences. The bad news is that adults who have experienced such disconnection when they were young not only have difficulty recognizing or accepting such circumstances in their children, but their own arrested development prevents them from knowing how to help their children overcome these circumstances.

The good news is these situations can be identified, remedied, and prevented. Unfortunately, society in general, and the media and professionals in particular, often contribute to this disconnection. When a tragedy happens, a common cycle is initiated. Virtually everyone will respond with horror, shock, disbelief, and anguish.

Then there will be a search for blame. This search will focus on the superficial: the Internet, social media, movies, television, guns, bad parents or bad kids. The private and personal grief of friends and family will be made public. An emphasis will be placed on photographs, videos, and outward appearances. Experts will talk about a violent society or trends occurring in society that precipitate or predict such violence.

When the perpetrators are identified or put on trial, the focus will shift toward demonizing their motives and at the same time rationalizing their actions as victims of some syndrome or category of disease. The legal system will emphasize determining guilt and punishment. The cycle will include additional public funding directed towards violence prevention in the form of a better connection between police and schools; more anti-violence lectures; games and curriculum for youth; longer prison sentences for offenders; restrictions on weapons; better monitoring of or restrictions on Internet use, movies, television, or music.

When tragic events occur, the search for blame seems like the correct thing to do.

After all, we don’t want those events to be repeated. But what if such a search actually contributes to the problem rather than reduces its future likelihood? What if the assignment of blame is a substitute for looking inside ourselves to determine how we have contributed to the situation? What if blame is just another way of passing judgment and not really listening and understanding? Does the assignment of blame increase or decrease that area within ourselves that is hidden from view?

The most important question to ask is whether young people in our communities will actually find others in their lives who are willing to listen and understand.

What can we do to help young people access their inner selves? What can we do to demonstrate respect to all young people regardless of their appearance, background, or circumstances?

Answers to these questions are readily available. Here are some samples. Be a mentor. Be a coach. Make sure your schools have peer support programs.

When talking to a young person, listen more than you talk. Don’t interrupt. Practice

patience. Suspend judgment. Show respect by summarizing what has been said. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Share your life story. Talk about what has meaning for you and how that came about. Ask about dreams, hopes, and goals. Be curious. Ask whether suggestions might help. Be clear about expectations. Know your own hot buttons. Leave the impression your door is open for further conversation. And again: listen more than you talk.

I wish I could share the outcome of my discussion with the 14-year old described above. After we had discussed possible options that were available in his community, he had to hang up the phone abruptly because one of his parents just came home.


Canfield, J., Hanson, M.V., Kirberger, K. & Claspy, M. (1997). Chicken soup for the teenage soul. Deerfield Beach, Florida: HCI Teens.

Roberts, G. (1994). The peer helper’s workbook. Victoria, BC: Peer Systems Consulting Group, Inc. (Available from Peer Resources)

We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open.

~ Harry Edwards (1893-1976) ~ British spiritual healer

Guest Post: Profiles in Mentoring: A Conversation with MENTOR’s Michael Garringer about Translating Research into Practice

By Jelle de Graaf and Vera van den Berg*

MikeGarringer.jpgMichael Garringer is the Director of Knowledge Management for The National Mentoring Partnership, MENTOR. Michael has played a vital role in the development of youth mentoring program supports for many years. One of the crucial roles Michael has within this field is the translation of academic research to more understandable guidance for youth mentoring programs. This includes efforts aimed at addressing the gap between research and the practical application of that research, hands-on training, and technical assistance for youth mentoring programs across the country. In addition to working on these tasks, Michael is involved in many other events within the field of mentoring: organizing the research-focused sessions at the yearly National Mentoring Summit in Washington DC and supporting the Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring at Portland State University, as well as conducting nation-wide surveys on the state of mentoring in the United States. 

  1. What inspired you to become Director of Knowledge Management at MENTOR?

What inspired me to do this work generally is what I’ve learned during different jobs in this field for a few decades now. I first got involved in mentoring through a library and information services angle where I had the opportunity to collect, organize, and read materials about educational subjects which eventually included mentoring when we received an OJJDP grant to support their funded programs in the mid-90s. This was at what is now Education Northwest in Portland, Oregon. At that time, nobody within the organization knew much about mentoring, but I was tasked with collecting information about mentoring that we could draw on in the new work. As I gathered all this research and program manuals and other information over time, I started to become known as the “they guy who knows things” about mentoring and it snowballed from there. At a certain point, mentoring programs started calling me and asking for advice and information. I enjoyed helping people in that way—it was like being a one man reference desk. I realized it can be hard for people that don’t have the academic mindset or background to understand what to take away from research. I felt that my role as translator of research was helpful to them and a niche that needed to be filled in our field. An organization like MENTOR is the perfect place to do that.

  1. What positive developments have you seen in youth mentoring during your involvement?

I would say the most positive development I’ve seen in our field is the diversification in the ways in which mentoring is thought of and how mentoring is applied to help young people. The past ten years, I’ve been impressed by the diversity in our field in terms of program models: Hybrids of one-to-one matches that meet in group settings, many varieties of group and team mentoring, mentors working in clinical settings, mentoring combined with other interventions, and so forth. The reason why I’m excited about these developments is that we’re getting closer to the best applications of mentoring. Some young people need one-on-one mentoring and a long-term friendship. In other cases, a mentor can be a guide to other services and make sure that young people take advantage of services that are available for them. Nowadays we see that mentoring is being applied to bigger social problems, like poverty and economic mobility, which have multiple causes. That’s quite a leap in terms of the impact of our work, but mentoring is certainly a piece of the puzzle on those fronts. I think when we connect mentors to other services or give them a role that is very well-defined in a particular context, it could maximize the help a mentor can provide and the overall impact on those large social issues.

One example of the integration of mentoring with other services is the use of mentors from the community within Youth Build U.S.A., which is a program for supporting young adults who have left school early and want to go back and complete their education. I provided some help to them when they were first considering mentoring. In addition to these educational goals, students in the program also learn job skills by studying several trades and get hands-on experience. Within this program, they realized that one of the missing pieces in the program was a community-based mentor. The staff could help young people get their high school diploma and other job-related skills, but their students needed support more broadly. They also needed someone to encourage them to stick with it, Thus, a mentor for them doesn’t function as an intervention exactly, but rather as “glue” that holds the intervention together, helping youth get the most out of everything YouthBuild offers.

It’s exciting seeing programs that give mentors this kind of “connective tissue” role. One-to-one mentoring programs where the mentor is the intervention are great, but the most important development I’ve seen over the years is to see mentoring thoughtfully and intelligently applied in many other contexts. And more than one mentor, too. Another trend I’m seeing is that it’s not about one person supporting a young person, but about a group of people taking on mentoring roles to help a young person.

  1. What developments do you hope to see in the near future?

Well, I think we have some very interesting research findings on the way in the next few years. Our field desperately needs longitudinal studies on the long-term impacts of being mentored. There haven’t been many of those globally. David DuBois and Carla Herrera are currently working on a longitudinal study at the moment, following up with all the participants from the Big Brothers Big Sisters study conducted 30 years ago. These participants are all grown up and living their lives as adults. The study will hopefully tell us if mentoring made a long-term difference in their lives, which is a very big picture question that the mentoring field has been wrestling with for a long time. We certainly see examples of those very long-term, deeply transformational relationships, both in programs and natural mentoring relationships. There is evidence that mentoring can have that long-term benefit but the jury is still out as to the long-term effects of mentoring from a policy perspective. We don’t know if it is an effective way of addressing societal problems one individual at a time, over the long haul.

Next to the policy part, I would love to see research at the individual level aiming to understand what makes some people a really good mentor. A challenge in our field is that we want to believe that every adult can be a mentor to a child, but I don’t think that is true. It is important to find out what makes a mentor a great mentor. You see these people in every program that just “get it” and that young people flock to. Our “super mentors,” so to speak. I want to see us learn what makes those people special and to see if those qualities can be taught or if we, in fact, have a limited number of awesome mentors available to youth. If the latter is the case, that obviously changes what mentoring can achieve or how we perceive the idea of taking mentoring “to scale.”

  1. What message would you like to pass on to today’s youth that could help them successfully develop their school- and professional career?

The thought I had about this question is what I tell my own children as well: don’t obsess about school and career. The reason I say that is that a lot of mentoring here in the US is developed from the perspective of very successful people who make sure that every child is a success according to their definition of success. There is an expectation that every mentee has to go to a great college and pursue some professional career and has to “make it” in these kinds of upper middle-class ways. The way we define success for a young person is adult-oriented and oriented on a particular class perspective. So keeping that in mind, what I would say to young people is “if it is your dream to become a doctor or lawyer or whatever, then go pursue that dream, but there is more in life than your job and more to life than what kind of degree you end up getting”. Our goal as a nation can’t be that every mentee goes to Harvard. The notion that everybody needs to have a professional career to live a happy life sets some young people up for failure. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have to care about school or a job, but it does mean that success should be defined by what that young person really wants and what will make them happy. I agree with the advice President Obama gave once (on Bear Grylls’ TV show, of all places): There are two keys to lead a successful life. The first key is to be useful to somebody or something. Make the world better in some way. The second key is to be kind,”. The first one could be serving as a mentor for someone or helping out a sick family member, for example. The second one, kindness, is something we often forget as a society. I feel like the last year has, unfortunately, proved that pretty starkly.

  1. Based on your previous answer, what message would you like to pass on to today’s youth mentors?

I would say the ability to truly listen to what a young person is saying and to hear them for who they are, being truly open to the experience. Especially in the US, we often have matches that are crossing a lot of social-economic, racial, or different lines. It is critical for a mentor to truly listen with an open mind in a judgement-free way, even if there are differences.

Also, it is important to share power in the relationship, the ability to have it be a mutual experience. I think sometimes mentors go into the relationship with a mindset of “I’m here to fix something” or “I’m here to get you out of these terrible circumstances in your life”. They don’t let their mentee take the reins in the relationship. We often forget that young people are capable of many great things if we just empower them. Share the power within the relationship in a way that empowers that young person rather than your own directing. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Voluntary relationships are mostly done because they are fun and satisfying. I think programs can sometimes be too purposeful and forget that younger children need some fun in their life.

At a youth mentoring conference I was recently at, someone said, “The best advice you can give to a mentor is to be patient,” which resonated with me. When we look at research into matches that end early, it’s often because mentors think that they have to have this massive instant impact on this young person’s life. When they don’t see that, they get discouraged and walk away from the opportunity. We have to teach mentors that the journey is the point, not to be obsessed with the end goals.

Also, applying mentoring in big social problems. If we really are going to use mentoring to tackle big social problems like poverty and so forth, we have to be more intentional about what causes influence these big social problems. One of my favorite quotes is from William Sloane Coffin, the former Chaplin at Yale: “To show compassion for an individual without also showing concern for the structures of society that make him an object of compassion is to be sentimental rather than loving.”

That means that if you care about a person’s needs without bothering to care about how they wound up with those needs, you’re doing it wrong. I love that mentors care for the mentees that enter their lives. But I’d love to see them turn around and be equally concerned about why their mentee’s life is rough in the first place and put some energy and effort into that. The power of mentoring can’t just reside in the individuals lucky enough to receive it, it has to then add up to meaningful change in the world.

(*This article originally appeared in The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring and is reproduced here with the gracious permission of the publisher.)

Women Mentors Leave a Legacy

Alyse Nelson, the CEO and co-founder of Vital Voices Global Partnership, believes that “mentorship is critical to catalyzing future leadership and spurring economic growth. It’s universal, cost-effective, and efficient. Every woman has something to offer as a mentor and every woman has something to learn as a mentee. If we can harness the power and potential of women who are committed to sharing knowledge, skills, and access then we can accelerate women’s leadership globally.”

According to a survey by LinkedIn (quoted on the NPR website), nearly 1 out of 5 women said they’ve never had a mentor at work. While there are several reasons proposed in the NPR article for this lack of mentors, there are also many examples of women who have served as mentors, and, unfortunately, many of them died in 2016. To honour these women and the legacy they have provided, we list them in this end-of-2016 tribute.

(Note. When a mentor dies, most people use the past tense to describe his or her mentoring. For example, a person might say, “he or she ‘was’ a mentor to so and so.” However, in our understanding of mentoring, one of the things that make it different from so many other forms of influence, it that what a person learned from a mentor lasts a lifetime. Therefore unless the person being mentored has also passed on, we prefer to use the present tense, “is” a mentor to indicate that mentoring provides a never-ending legacy.)

vera_rubinFeminist icon, pioneering astronomer and Medal of Science award winner Vera Rubin (Bio)  (1928-2016) is a mentor to many young scientists. When Dr. Rubin was told by her high school physics teacher that she’d been awarded a scholarship to Vassar, “he said to me, ‘As long as you stay away from science, you should do okay.’ It took an enormous self-esteem to listen to things like that and not be demolished.” What Dr. Rubin learned from that experience was that “rather than teaching little girls physics, you have to teach them they can learn anything they want to.”

esma_redzepovaRoma musician, singer and humanitarian Esma Redzepova (Bio) (1943-2016) was mentored by Macedonian composer Stevo Teodosievski. She acted as a foster parent along with her husband to 47 children. She supported women’s rights and was awarded the Macedonian Order of Merit.

florence_hendersonBroadway star and TV-icon Florence Henderson (Bio) (1934-2016) is a mentor to Brady Bunch star Barry Williams. She was the first woman to host The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and became a role model for women to hold hosting and broadcasting positions on network television and was the childhood television heroine of Calista Flockhart. She was mentored by Christine Johnson, considered Broadway star Mary Martin her role model, and as a child, Ms. Henderson idolized actress Jane Wyman. In discussing her serving as a role model in playing mother Carol Brady on the Brady Bunch, she said, “I begged them [the producers] to give Carol Brady a job. They wouldn’t do that. I mean, those clothes, for God’s sake, take a look at them! I didn’t choose those, please…But I said, ‘Can I just hit the kids every now and then? I mean, real life!’ They wouldn’t let me.”

gwen_ifillTrailblazing Journalist Gwen Ifill (Bio) (1955-2016) is a mentor to many including CNN host Don Lemon, NBC journalist Yvette Miley, Kim Godwin, CBS news producer, Joy Reid, April Ryan, White House Correspondent, Shawna Thomas, journalist, Joey Cole, news producer, Rashida Jones, news editor, Audie Cornish, news host, among others. Ms. Ifill became the first African American woman to host a nationally televised U.S. public affairs program with Washington Week in Review. Fellow journalist Hari Sreenivasan said “There is a professional ladder in this business, but, as a journalist of color, what she impressed upon me, as a friend and a mentor, is that it’s not just enough to climb that ladder. It’s about making sure that you pull someone else up, and then they pull someone else up along the way.”


Additional examples of mentoring can be found in the Peer Resources Mentorpairs Database.

Latest Entries to the Mentor Hall of Fame

Latest Entries to the Mentor Hall of Fame

Virtually anyone can benefit from having a mentor. And most well-known, accomplished and successful people can identify people in their lives who acted as mentors.

The list of mentor pairs in the Mentor Hall of Fame was compiled by Rey Carr from a variety of sources including autobiographies, biographies, newspaper articles, personal interviews, and diligent historical research. Mentor pairs portrayed in fiction or movies are also included.

Pairings are divided into ten general categories. In most cases, mentors and their partners could be included in the same category. However, where a mentor and partner are from different career or life areas, the pairing has been placed in the partner’s category. (A few historical facts or humorous references to the term mentor are included at various places in the listings.)

The categories include

  • Actors, Comedians, Producers and Directors (Stage, Screen, and TV)
  • Mentoring relationships depicted in motion pictures and television
  • Musicians, Songwriters, and Singers
  • Classical and Broadway Musicians, Composers, Conductors, Ballet, and Modern Dancers
  • Fashion, Media, and Celebrities
  • Artists, Writers, Photographers, Publishers, Novelists, Poets
  • Mentoring relationships depicted in print (novels stories, fiction)
  • Sports Figures, Athletes, and Coaches
  • Historical, Political, Spiritual, and Civic Leaders
  • Business, Industry, Education, Science, and Medical Leaders

Here are some of the latest entries to the Mentor Hall of Fame:




Mentoring Domains Seek New Homes


As part of our business downsizing at Peer Resources, we have a number of domain names that we no longer need. Here is the list:

The first six domain names presently are pointed to our primary business website. Why not buy one, arrange to have it point to your existing website or create a new one and use it to let others know what you have to offer.

We are selling each of these domains for $500. However, if you decide you want to purchase them before November 19, 2016, we will sell them for $350 each.


Merging Aboriginal Traditions with Peer Mentor Leadership Training

Not only is Peer Resources one of the world’s oldest peer assistance train-the-trainer organizations, but they were the first organization to offer a peer mentor program train-the-trainer workshop based on Aboriginal (First Nations) customs and traditions.

Few people know that many of the elements of successful experiential training date back to historical practices that were part of many North American native groups. The “talking circle,” for example, was unknown to the European settlers who came to North America, but was an ancient practice of the Indians they encountered.

Unfortunately, the encounters between the native and European cultures became dominated by a campaign to eliminate the practices, customs and traditions of native culture. Many of the health, healing, spiritual, and educational customs were lost, forbidden, hidden, or forgotten during this attempt to suppress the native way of life.

During the 1970’s when Peer Resources was exploring whether high school students in British Columbia would want to and be able to help each other using positive peer pressure, many of the peer mentor volunteers were students from First Nations ancestry.

Because our training model was based on a socio-cultural tradition—that is, a model that relied on understanding and building upon how individuals within a culture positively communicated with each other and how they understood the world they lived in—we realized we had much to learn about the differences in communication and perspective between native and non-native youth.

What was most surprising as we conducted our research with elders and members of First Nations groups in British Columbia and other Aboriginal groups in Canada and the United States, was the similarity between their traditions and customs and the practices we were using in our training sessions.

And even more powerful was our own finding that the more we established and integrated First Nations customs into our training sessions, the more successful the training sessions became for non-native participants. We were also privileged to have a highly skilled and experienced educator, mentor and coach, Ron Jorgenson, act as our lead trainer. Ron has continued to lead these training sessions for more than 20 years.

Some of our most skilled peer mentor program leaders, upon refreshing what they learned in our “comprehensive training” course, remarked that taking the First Nation version of the same course was a much better learning experience. Participants described their learning as more personally satisfying and deeper, with a greater appreciation of and respect for cultural diversity. In addition, they saw the training as empowering them to develop their own facilitation style and design and manage what was needed for their own peer program effectiveness. As a result, dozens of peer programs have been successfully established in First Nations communities, and many communities now hold their own train-the-trainer sessions for First Nation peer leaders.

From 2005 to 2012 Peer Resources held five-day workshops every summer in Victoria, British Columbia at the University of Victoria. The workshops integrated Aboriginal principles into both the workshop process and the content and were specifically designed for persons who worked in youth populations (ages 12-25) from diverse backgrounds. The purpose of the workshop was to prepare youth workers, educators, teachers, mentor program leaders, and counsellors to establish state-of-the-art peer-led programs for youth (elementary school age to university-based students) who represent a variety of diverse groups in today’s society.

Persons who had previously taken other peer training courses emphatically stated that these specialized sessions enhanced their learning of how to use the medicine wheel, healing circles, ceremony, and other Aboriginal customs and traditions.

The seminars covered all key topics for effective peer program development including:

  • practical strategies to recruit, select, and supervise peer mentors;
  • twenty roles peer mentors use to prevent problems, mediate disputes and promote healthy growth;
  •  the twelve core skills of a peer mentor training curriculum;
  • how to design a curriculum for advanced skills and issues;
  • a custom-designed set of peer training and peer program development materials and resources;
  • experiential learning techniques that energize training;
  • when to teach and when to facilitate;
  • how to conduct a needs assessment for program longevity;
  • how to use feedback and facilitation skills to train like an expert;
  • how and when to motivate peer mentors;
  • how to gain and maintain program support from unexpected sources;
  • six proven methods to turn resistance into alliance;
  • eight peer program standards that resolve challenging legal issues;
  • examples of successful implementation strategies; and
  • how to use simple strategies to evaluate program progress.

Participants in the five-day workshop were organized into small groups for the peer training and consultation activities. Each participant has an opportunity to partner with another workshop participant to lead a supervised training session. The workshop relied strongly on interactive methods designed to maximize adult learning and to model effective training. Participants were involved in lectures, communication skill exercises, role plays, training leadership opportunities, curriculum development, peer mentoring, and other experiential activities.

Participants were also eligible to apply for national certification as Peer Mentor Trainers (Level I or Level II). This certification system is based on national training standards originally developed by the Peer Counselling Project at the University of Victoria. Participants who attended a complete workshop received a Certificate of Completion.

While we no longer offer these workshops on an annual basis, we do offer them on a specialized, custom basis in communities in North America. Anyone interested in setting up one of these workshops in their community to be led by an experienced First Nations training leader is encouraged to contact Peer Resources by phone or email.


Carr, R.A. (2005). Peer helping: Youth working together. Thunder Bay, Ontario: Nishnawbe Aski Nation. (Retrieved May 1, 2009 from

Carr, R.A. (2001). The theory and practice of peer helping. Victoria, BC: Peer Resources.Carr, R.A.

Carr, R.A., & Saunders, G.A. (1999). The peer counselling starter kit. Victoria, BC: Peer
France, H. (2000). The helping circle: First Nations peer support network. (Retrieved May 1, 2009 from
Jorgenson, R. (2004). Kit & culture: Supplemental resources for peer counselling in First Nations communities. Victoria, BC: Peer Resources.
Jorgenson, R. (2004). Youth helping youth: A training plan introducing peer helping into a native community. Victoria, BC: Peer Resources.

MacDonald, S., Denby, C., and Madak, P. (2003). The Northern Aboriginal Peer Support Network Program: Current practices and plans for a generative curriculum. Unpublished manuscript: First Nations Center, University of Northern British Columbia.

Saskatoon Health Region. (November 19, 2008). Aboriginal LiveWell program celebrates success. e-connect: The Saskatoon Health Region Employee Newsletter. (Retrieved May 31, 2009 from

Six Nations Police. (2008). Community service: Peer helping. Ohsweken, Ontario: Six Nations Police Service. (Retrieved May 10, 2009 from

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Guardians of Mentoring

Existential psychotherapist James Bugental (1915-2008), the author of The Search for Authenticity, mentored many well-known psychotherapy practitioners. One of those, Orah Krug, recalled that her mentor likened his role to that of a track and field coach who, running along side the hurdler, helps the athlete maintain form. “My function,” Dr. Bugental said to his mentoring partner, “is that of being my client’s ally, of supporting the client’s effort to be authentically present and self-exploring.”