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Investing in our Future: The Ripple Effect of Mentorship in Greater Rochester

February 13, 2024

Since the earliest days of the women’s rights movement, Greater Rochester has celebrated women and their achievements. From civil rights leaders like Harriett Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, to notable leaders in business, athletics, and music such as Kate Gleason, Abby Wambach, and Renée Fleming, all kinds of iconic women have called the Greater Rochester region home.

These women and our outstanding 2024 ATHENA Award finalists have at least one thing in common. They have relied on the support and encouragement of others. This includes those who came before us and paved the way for women to have a voice in important conversations. We all exist in the history and the context of these trailblazers.

It also includes the everyday acts of those around us that enable us to grow and to be the best versions of ourselves. Nobody makes it to the top on their own, and mentorship plays a crucial role. Even the women we hail as the most powerful icons of female leadership and accomplishment have worked with each other. For example, Susan B. Anthony was mentored by Lucretia Coffin Mott, and she in turn mentored other leaders of the suffrage movement around the country.

As we enter 2024, it is a perfect time to reassess our own mentorship roles, especially of women, to ensure that our region can succeed and prosper in the face of great opportunity. Mentorship benefits all of us, not just mentees. A UPenn study found that 87% of mentors and mentees are empowered by their relationship and reported greater confidence and satisfaction in their roles and careers. If you are not engaging in active mentorship programs, seek out opportunities to join one, as either a mentor or a mentee. If you’re already serving as a mentor, seek out opportunities to do more.

A recent publication from Gallup suggested that mentorship is not enough on its own, suggesting that women need “career investors.” As they explain, career investors “put something of value - reputation, client relationship, future business chances - on the line to give other people an opportunity.” It’s important to not just reflect on the importance of the work we are already doing and the mentoring that is already happening, but to always consider what we can be doing more. I know that many of the business leaders in the room with us tonight already serve as mentors, but we need to continue to look for new ways to invest in the next generation of female leaders in Greater Rochester.

As we celebrate all of these outstanding women in our community, we thank them for the important work they are doing to create opportunities for other women and for our whole region. Additional thanks are owed to Faraci Lange, our 2024 presenting sponsor, and all the other sponsors and supporters who made this event possible. And finally, thank you to all our attendees for coming together to recognize and celebrate female excellence. Congratulations to all our ATHENA International Award finalists. May you continue to inspire our community and the next generation of trailblazing women.

This column originally appeared in the 2024 Greater Rochester Chamber ATHENA International Awards Publication on 2.1.24.


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