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Nine women executives from eight Leagues and League Foundations participated in the 1-to-1Woman Mentoring Program’s most recent cohort, sponsored by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL). The 1-to-1Woman Mentoring Program pairs Caucasian C-suite executive level women with rising Black women professionals.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are keys to the sustainability of the credit union industry,” said AACUL President Brad Miller. “Montana’s Credit Unions President Tracie Kenyon was one of the original mentors in the program. When she enthusiastically shared her experience with me, I reflected on the many amazing women leaders in the League System and knew AACUL could mobilize our League partners to support this important mentorship opportunity.”
Miller and Kenyon collaborated with their League colleagues, and the first League System Mentor cohort was established. The mentees in the cohort included:
These mentees were paired with the following League Mentors:
1-to-1Woman Mentoring Program facilitates conversations between the mentors and mentees about gender bias and racial disparity in the workforce. 1-to-1Woman aims to form relationships between otherwise unlikely connections with the goal of fostering a space where mentors and mentees serve as both teachers and pupils.
“1-to1Woman proves to be valuable and impactful for both the mentor and mentee,” described Shellee Mitchell, President of Sapphire Dimension and founder of the 1-to-1Woman Mentoring Program. “1-to1Women proves to be valuable and impactful for both the mentor and mentee,” described Shellee Mitchell, President of Sapphire Dimension and founder of the 1-to-1Woman Mentoring Program. “Research shows that the vast majority of the time people mentor those who resemble themselves. Since African Americans lag in influential positions within credit unions, 1-to1Woman is a wonderful opportunity to connect up-and-coming young African American women with successful credit union leaders.”
Mentee Chelsea Best shared, “My mentor’s knowledge, expertise, and genuine investment in my success have propelled my personal and professional growth to new heights. She has provided invaluable guidance, empowered me to speak up more, present my ideas, and inspired me to reach for my dreams.”
“I’m honored to have been part of this incredible opportunity,” said mentor Kristi Arrington. “I believe both my mentee and I learned something that we will keep with us from this experience, and we formed a friendship that I hope will last.”
Mitchell further explained, “Our program is not easy, nor is it a fit for everyone. It takes courage to address gender and race issues – especially with a perfect stranger - in a society that exposes unresolved bitter histories. However, these conversations are essential, as I believe the best action to support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) is to disrupt normal tendencies and discuss sensitive issues in order to identify and act on commonality. With structured tools and research resources, 1-to-1Woman attempts to facilitate these important discussions.”