Kofi Darku: Welcome back to Part II of this focus on the Indiana Latino Institute. We have Marlene Dotson, president and CEO, Rachel Santos, education program coordinator, along with Leadership Circle participants, Anabel Menifee and Juan Guzman. In this episode, we take a deep dive into the value of mentorship and how it's being leveraged to make sure the next generation of Latino leadership is ready for the task.
Kofi Darku: Welcome back to the Skill Up Build Up podcast, powered by the Morales Group, where we are leading talent to thrive. And this is Part II of our focus on the Indiana Latino Institute. In the previous episode, I teased that we are going to have actual voices from the Leadership Circle, and they indeed have arrived. So in this follow-up episode, we still have Marlene Dotson and Rachel Santos on, but we're also bringing voices from the Leadership Circle to this table. We have Anabel Menifee, director of admissions from Ivy Tech. Thank you for being with us, Anabel. And, we also have Juan Guzman, service line director for orthopedics and neuroscience at IU Health West Hospital. They are phenomenal participants from this initial cohort of the Leadership Circle, that is hosted by the Indiana Latino Institute. And so I would like to welcome them to this table.
Anabel Menifee: Thank you!
Juan Guzman: Thanks for having us.
Kofi Darku: All right. So when we left the last episode, we were really wanting to see if the proof was in the pudding. And so I think, if the aspiration is to develop leaders that are going to be able to sit at all levels of civic life, especially with employers, and then also use their voice when they're in that, that moment in those positions, I'm thinking that you're trying to pick those candidates that are probably well-positioned to actually achieve that. So what's the process in trying to figure out who these leaders are going to be in, how to recruit them and get them to participate in this program?
Marlene Dotson: Yes, yes. For our first class, we invite companies to nominate their rising stars of Latino employees at their corporations or institutions. So that was through a application, and also we asked employees to sponsor, not only nominate, but also sponsor their employees. So that was the selection of-- once we collected all these nominations, we submitted these to a committee, cause we have a committee who reviews the applications and they selected the nine candidates for this year.
Kofi Darku: And with all of those candidates selected, did all those nominations go through? Was there a successful transition or were there any difficulties in the process?
Marlene Dotson: When you have all rising stars, of course, you know, it can become difficult, but at the same time we want to have diversity within our-- in terms of careers, in terms of gender. I mean we want to have from different backgrounds. So, I mean, it was tough for the group, for the selective committee, but they did great.
Kofi Darku: So, it seems like you have representations from a variety of sectors. From announcing the guests that we have additionally joining us, you have the health sector and education sector joining us. Are there any other sectors that are part of this Leadership Circle?
Marlene Dotson: Yeah, we have from the airport, we have engineering, we have from the airport. Carrier Corporation. The services, the Eli Lilly company, Marian University, Huntington Bank.
Rachel Santos: Yeah. And they all have different backgrounds. So we have social media, so marketing, and then we have lawyers, and like Marlene said, engineers.
Kofi Darku: Awesome. Well, since we're seeing how this program is making an impact, let's draw our attention to Anabel. Anabel, so you jumped into this Leadership Circle. What have been some of those outstanding moments for you being a part of this program?
Anabel Menifee: Yeah, I think for me, several outstanding moments have, well we've, we've had several, I should say. A lot of that is really connecting with leaders within their community that are sharing their stories, of how they have been able to either be empowered themselves within their corporation. How they have seeked mentorship and navigated their careers. But then, also it's really, it's a breath of fresh air to also have individuals who are vulnerable and share their personal stories. Because I think, especially in leadership, we, we have this, this thought of what a leader is. But understanding where they're coming from and the struggle that they've had, maybe they've, there's been tough decisions that they've had to make along the way. That allows us to know, you know, yes, that's going to happen to us. You know, we're going to have some tough decisions, but it also helps us either pave the way a little bit better for, for our careers and learn from those, whether it's decisions, or understand that, you know, the choices that we've made are actually in line with what our career trajectory, you know, we would like for our career trajectory to be. So that's, that's really been kind of some moments that I've been able to reflect on and learn from. You know, most importantly, we've had individuals that we've been able to connect with. You know, we just recently came from a visit with the former governor Mitch Daniels, who is now, you know, at Purdue, which, you know, was really electrifying, I think for us. Just to hear from a former governor, you know. And, and moreso I think in our positions, we are able to share some of our concerns and also voice some of our opinions and be the voice to some of the needs within our sectors. And also just get their perspective on, where do you think we as Latino leaders-- and we actually have, as a group, coined the phrase of, "we are leaders that just so happen to be Latinos," you know-- and how within our space, how we can actually make an impact not just within our industry but also within our overall community?
Kofi Darku: All right, well it seems like the proof is in the pudding. You know. You're talking about how seeing certain leaders, especially high level leaders, throughout this day, are making an impact on you and I'm sure by seeing them, you're, you're learning some things yourself. And you're using that moment to voice your concerns. That's a good way of exercising your voice. Juan, can you share any other outstanding moments or things that have really made an impression on you as you've been in this program?
Juan Guzman: Yeah, I agree with Anabel wholeheartedly. She really hit the nail on the head with a lot of those awesome moments. I think one of the things that I really treasure from this program, is the opportunity to be in front of individuals who have, for lack of a better way of saying it, have "made it," right? Folks who, to Annabel's point, have shared their stories, have shared where they've come from and have shown us kind of, "hey, there really is an opportunity out there for you to do this and we're willing to help you." We've had some rock star panels, really folks from every industry: healthcare, education, the public life. We've had, you know, visits to the mayor's office, obviously the visit that Anabel mentioned to Purdue University to meet with Mitch Daniels and his leadership team. But even folks like Jim Morris, who worked at the United Nations and oversaw the World Food Bank and things of this sort, have come and talk to us. So I'm a little starstruck. I was talking to Anabel a little bit before we, we came in here, and you know, you sit there and sometimes you don't really have any questions cause all you want to do is just hear these people talk all day because they have such powerful stories. And they're very, they're, they're more than willing to share anything with you. And they, they're very passionate about what they do. They're definitely role models, I guess, for a lot of us. And I, I think Anabel hit the nail on the head too, when she talked about "we are leaders who happen to be Latinos" and I think we've continued to adopt that mantra as a group and as a, as a cohort. I'm really excited about that.
Kofi Darku: Well, you've mentioned being starstruck. Obviously, you are getting to interact with some very influential figures, but I know that the program also involves you taking a trip to DC. You're starting to get more comfortable in voicing concerns that you have. What are you looking forward to with that DC trip? And, by the way, I think this is a great opportunity to exercise and learn about leadership when you're going to the, the federal level. But, what are you looking forward to with your DC trip and are there any tools that you've developed in this program, or become more aware of, that you plan to leverage while you're making this trip?
Anabel Menifee: I think when, when we're looking at DC, you know, we, as you mentioned, we're looking at that federal level, you know. But I think for, for me personally, I'm not exactly knowing right now what our agenda is. But I think one of the things that this leadership program has actually prepared us for, is "prepare for the unexpected." And seize the moment. So if we have the opportunity to voice our opinions, you have to be prepared. You have to have that note in your back pocket, you know, because you don't know who you're going to be in front of, and you have to take that opportunity to be able to, you know, again, raise the concerns.
Kofi Darku: And, I could see that maybe you're not so aware, in that there's probably some things that are taking place to start to inform that agenda.
Juan Guzman: I think one of the things the program has prepared us for, for DC is, what is the process to be a change agent in your community? Right? So if you think about, you know, the public life and being a politician and doing the things, you know, changing policy and making sure policy is fair and equitable for everybody. The program's shown us how to do that. They've shown us who those influential leaders are, who are those influential organizations. And you know, if we want to make change in policy, we now have the tools and we understand what that process looks like, which is something some of us may have not walked into the room knowing. And we have that going into our trip to DC now.
Kofi Darku: I want to bring it back to Marlene and Rachel, and also feel free to chime in if there's some things you want to say about this question. But mentorship is very important as you're trying to make sure you're preparing this next generation. Can you speak to some of your hopes and aspirations and some of the things that you've been thinking of as you're putting this program together? What are your hopes for the Leadership Circle participants in terms of what they'll get from their mentors?
Marlene Dotson: "Be prepared to face the realities of our community." To be a leader. You don't walk alone. You need people to walk with you, to support you, to learn from their lessons and to be, to have all these support by you, to walk with you. So we believe that through this program, expose and provide this cohort group with those options, those opportunities, with right now, matching them, each one with a mentor that they will be working for three years. It's a great opportunity for them that, you know, in every step of the way of their development, they are not going to go alone. And learning from their experience. But also, you know, having to say, pick up the phone and says, "here, this is what I'm thinking. I want to hear your thoughts on this." So, that that is so important and that's why we're connecting each of the members of the class with a mentor. And right now they are actually pairing them currently. I forgot to mention earlier, is that we have a moderator for this class. His name is Charlie Garcia. He's well known in our community, so he is now charged with connecting each members of this class with a mentor.
Rachel Santos: Yeah. And I think in addition to the structured mentorship, there's going to be an organic mentorship that comes out of this program with our younger students. So Juan, for example, has already said, you know, "Oh, you have a student at IU Health, how can I help them get you know, get a job?" And he's talked to us about the interns that he has at IU Health already. And Anabel, I remember, I had a student who, I didn't even know where to start from. You know, she called me and she was a DACA recipient and she had gone to Ivy Tech and she had lost all these credits and I didn't even know where to start. So I emailed her, and she was able to direct me to the right person right away. So I think, you know, there's going to be more of an organic mentorship as well on top of the structured program.
Kofi Darku: That's so great, Rachel, because that gets me to the heart of, Juan and Anabel, your experience with mentors, I'm sure as you've gone through this formal, being paired with a mentor, process, there's going to be a good connection there, but have there been individuals that you've had the opportunity to meet that you're already entertaining as more of an organic type of mentor? And can you speak to us about it?
Juan Guzman: First and foremost, I, I wouldn't be where I'm at today without the help of my mentors. Inside and outside of the program, that I've developed relationships with. Actually one of the individuals who I consider to be my mentors was one of the panel individuals, Art Vasquez, who was the president of IU Health West Hospital. And so, you know, that's been a natural organic, you know, mentorship-mentee relationship from the get-go. You know, I really think mentorship is just a great opportunity. I had a great mentor once tell me, you know, "if you learn from your mistakes, you're really smart. If you learn from other's mistakes, you're really wise, you become wise." And I think that's what mentorship is all about, is how do you bounce ideas off of folks who have that experience, who have had that, have already been there or have been in your shoes before? And how do you learn from those opportunities that have already come to them? And how do you make it even that much better? And I think I'm, I'm ecstatic to figure out who might, or find out who my mentor is going to be. It'll be, it'll be a lot of fun. I think, I know Anabel probably is as well.
Anabel Menifee: Yeah. Yeah. No, absolutely. And when you talk about just that natural organic relationship, I think we all have been able to gravitate to Charlie. Just his personality and, you know, as we meet with him individually to then create that, figure out who we are, what our aspirations are and what are, who may be potential mentors, you know, for us. You know, we just, we've developed that relationship with him that-- he has actually been able to steer several of the participants into great partnerships with other companies or other institutions. And a lot of that just came from an idea. And so I, I'm thankful and I think we're, we're blessed to be able to have a moderator who acknowledges and sees the talent that is present and says, you know what, that idea is not just in, you know, in vain. We're going to take that idea and we're going to grow from that. You know, Helmuth has been able to create such a great, you know, partnership with IUPUI. And it's in a, in a, in a sector, in a world that he didn't even, you know, think possible. So it's, I think that is really a great opportunity and a great organic relationship that has been built, you know, just within the program itself.
Kofi Darku: Phenomenal. I'm very curious now about your perception and embrace of mentoring when you were finishing your education and career. Has it changed from what it was then to where it is now? And can you just speak to, how, have you always viewed mentorship like this? Or has it evolved into something where you realize it could be more helpful than you originally thought back when you were a teenager or in your early twenties?
Anabel Menifee: I definitely think mentorship has to be a continuous, evolving, you know, process. You know, because you're in different stages of your life. So, you know, as a teenager, you know, say there was different challenges that, you know, we, that were in front of us, that we needed those mentors to help us navigate. And now we're just in a different space that you know, it just requires a different set of experience. And so that's where we have to as individuals evolve. And also just be open to that new perspective. You know, for example, as a, as a mentee, you know, I think at a younger age, you may see a mentor as somebody who's going to give and know exactly what it is that you need. But I think at this stage in our lives, we as mentees have to own exactly our own growth and be able to speak to that and say, "as a mentor, this is what I would like to see. This is what I need. You know, these are the areas that I want to grow in." And that provides the mentor the opportunity to say, "yes, I'm able to provide that," or "let me look at my network and see how I can help you." You know, in, in that aspect, but we have to own that, as a mentee. And as a mentor, then, you know, providing that different perspective is really connecting with your mentee. And not only working just off of what they tell you, but also what you see in them, you know, and then providing them those different perspectives. "I know you may not be interested in this, but your skillset is really powerful and I just want you to take a glimpse." You know, and that can really change the trajectory of somebody's career.
Juan Guzman: Yeah, I agree with Anabel. I think it's, it's, it's definitely always an evolution, what your perception on mentoring is and being mentored. I think, you know, when I was growing up, I had no idea kind of the value of what a mentorship could really do. And then, kind of having a mentor and growing in that relationship. Organically, it really, it changed my perception on some of the things that not only I bring to the table, but things that they bring to the table too. And now as I become a little older, I know that from a mentorship relationship, I have to own as well. Back to Anabel's point, you have to nurture, you have to foster that relationship between the mentor-mentee and make sure that it continues to grow. It's not only on the mentor to just give, you have to give to the relationship as well. I think, you know, there's value on both sides of the equation there and I think it's, it's really important. It's an integral part of being a leader within the, within the community and growing as a professional as well.
Kofi Darku: That concept of the mentee realizing that, in the relationship they also give, it can really amplify sort of the impact and especially help the leadership that may be trying to help others as well. I'd say mentoring maybe 25 years prior to now, I think the relationship is more one-sided and I think that happens in a lot of companies where they're, they're expecting the senior people to give information to the junior people. Whereas, as we are in 2019, and probably for the last five to 10 years, we're experiencing a shift in that, where-- and I appreciate you also voicing this as well, Anabel-- a mentee being direct about expectations and, and, and trying to frame out for the mentor what they're looking to grow in. And then also that orientation of "and I can also contribute to this relationship." From your initial time at coming, coming into ILI till now, what's been the evolution of mentoring? Was there a switch from thinking, "Hey, we need to bring in these experts that are going to help this next group grow?" Or have you started to realize there's some ways that we can make way for growth on both sides where both sides are giving? How has mentoring changed, pretty much? Or has it changed at all at ILI since you've come? And what are your hopes and aspirations of those who are mentoring in this program?
Rachel Santos: Yeah, so I think with the addition of the Leadership Circle, it, as I mentioned earlier, it's more structured. But I do believe that ILI has a history of connecting and growing relationships across the city. You know, there are, our board is a powerhouse and there's kind of this idea of how can we make sure to utilize that board in a different way. You know, it's not just financial, you know, it's not just monetary. There is more, those are, you know, leaders in the community and people who can give back to our students. You know, we have a large number of young Latinos who go through our programming. So I think, we're just trying to add that one step that is a little more structured with an understanding that mentorship is powerful, and it's a necessity to lift the Latino community. So while we advance health and while we advance education, we need leadership.
Kofi Darku: Thank you for that. Juan, Anabel, are you currently mentoring any individuals right now? And if you are, can you share your thoughts on what type of mentor you're trying to be?
Anabel Menifee: Working in a higher education setting, we tend to be mentors all the time.
Kofi Darku: That makes a lot of sense.
Anabel Menifee: You know, whether, whether it's formal or informal, and most of the times it's informal. So, for me, I just try to provide an understanding and have students also-- provide grace to students because they're growing and there's a lot of things that are a lot of factors and a lot of changes within their life. And also within our community. There's a lot of, you know, within the political climate, you know, can affect a student's, you know, mental state. So, you know, there's grace that needs to be provided, but at the same time, there's also expectations that I set for the students that I've been working with. Expectations of, "there needs to be, I need to see, and you need to see for yourself, that there's change happening, you know, whether it's train of thought or just maturity," you know, and that's an expectation that I set. Not necessarily, "this is what I expect of you," precisely, but I make sure that there's some type of reflection that said, "I was here when we started and now I am here." Because if there's not, there isn't growth, then the relationship that we're having, we're not producing, in a sense. You know, so I also look at the relationships as, you know, transformational, not just for them, but for myself as well. And I also reflect as a leader, you know, "how am I connecting with this individual versus this other individual?" Because my relationships with two people will be very different, based on who that individual is, you know, and what their background, or experiences and so forth. So I as a leader also have to grow, and I consider my mentorship style to be transformational so that I can be helpful for the student, but also grow as a leader myself.
Juan Guzman: It's really weird to reflect and think of yourself as a mentor. I'll be honest with you, there's probably folks out there who will tell you that they're being mentored by me, but it's just conversation that I think about it. It really is. I think about some, some individuals that I've interacted with and really maybe provided some advice. I always try to be an objective lens. To Anabel's point, there's so many influencers in today's society, whether it's the political climate, the economical environment, you know, social media, things of such, there's so many influencers to the young, younger generations and, and folks, even older folks who are older than us, that you always as a mentor, I think, you know, have a responsibility to be an objective lens for them and challenge them in ways that maybe they haven't been challenged before. You know, I agree. I think there are some-- there needs to be some boundaries in terms of expectations of progress. I think those need to be set if you're going to have a formal mentor-mentee relationship. Because to Anabel's point, you want to grow, you both want to grow, you want to get just as much out of the mentor-mentee relationship as the mentee receives. So, you know, I think you know, definitely from my perspective, I always want to be someone who is a sounding board, objective sounding board, and is able to kind of challenge them in ways that they probably not been challenged before or asked questions that they've never really been asked before. And then they do the same to me. There are mentees that I'm sure think of me as a mentor, but they've challenged me in ways that I've never thought before and I've implemented some of those things in the organization I'm currently in. Just because they think differently than we do, they're exposed to other things that I may not be exposed to. So, always having the, you know, whether it's a younger or an older generation, kind of talking to them and mentoring them or being mentored by them, it provides you that opportunity.
Anabel Menifee: If I have the opportunity to mentor, you know, a student of color, employee, you know, of color, I make it aware that, you know, there is going to be that, "you're going to have to work a little bit harder." You know, and it's based on a lot of my experience and a lot of the experience of individuals that I, you know, work with and having those very candid conversations of, "But why? You know, and what is, what does that, what does that give me or what is the purpose?" So having those candid conversations of, "this is the reality, you know, this is the reality. If you want to get here, this is what we need to do, you know, together, you know, we need to get there, but you have to know that you know, ahead of time. So when you are provided those opportunities, you know that you need to seize those moments and perform at a high level."
Kofi Darku: These responses are very telling. Oftentimes, I think, since this show is kind of known for talking about best practices and offering solutions to those who are dealing with our workforce, we think we can have a response in a nice little, you know, well-managed package, but it's usually a little more evasive than that. And you're, you're saying things that have direct relevance to how we can bring about better engagement and, and sort of working relationships. However, there's still some, some growth that we have to do with that. Sometimes, as you're explaining in your responses, mentoring is more expansive than we initially think it to be, and it may call on you at times that you're not ready, and it may be more demanding. I think when it's like that, and we perceive it like that, we're not so ready to say "we are mentors," you know, but I can tell through your responses that you're doing a lot of things that mentors do without officially embracing that, "Oh, I have achieved mentor level," which I think is the humble thing to do. And, also probably the wise thing to do, to not think of the magnitude of what's, you know, at stake here. You have people coming to you that realize you have valuable information and wisdom to share. I think that's extremely powerful and I love that ILI is making sure that there is a pipeline of mentoring, so that as each generation comes through, they participate, play their leadership role, but then also realize there's, there are other people behind and that they have to help lift up, too. And mentoring plays a huge role in that. So, I just wanted to applaud ILI for that, that emphasis and for you two to accept, I think you're already in the mentor club. And if I'm not mistaken, part of the Leadership Circle encourages you to have a three year mentorship with some other individuals that'll be coming behind. So it's coming soon. It's coming soon. If it's not here already, like we heard in your responses.
Marlene Dotson: There is a great intention, being intentional about this. From, from the mentee and from the perspective of the mentor. And I know we have great community leaders, and naturally the Leadership Circle didn't happen just-- it wasn't one person or two. It was a group of community leaders that they came together, and naturally there was, we needed some seed funding for this program and we call up into these great community leaders like Steve Alonso, Enrique Conterno from Lilly, Seth Morales, Mario Rodriguez, Raphael Sanchez, Charlie Garcia, Rosemily Geyer and myself. We came together to fund this program to seed, to put the seed funding for this program to launch. So, in addition of this, we have received support from outside, not just Latinos, but non-Latino leaders. They're well-established like [inaudible] Morris, and other leaders in the community that have come forward to support, and willing to, you know, to invest the time in giving back to the community by becoming mentors for our Circle.
Kofi Darku: This is excellent news to hear. And I also want to reemphasize that, if I'm not mistaken, you are more than halfway through your Leadership Circle program, a trip to DC is in the near future, and you'll be going through what is close to a graduation and fully being a mentor for the next cohort. This first cohort was through invitation, but the second cohort is through application. Are there any requirements or any specifics that you're hoping your candidates have as they consider applying for the second Indiana Latino Leadership Circle?
Marlene Dotson: Yes. They have to be ideally under forties, already have [inaudible], have work experience in, in addition to community service, in some level of leadership roles.
Rachel Santos: I think we're just looking for diverse backgrounds. You know, ideally like you said, under 40, someone who is really in their career and just looking to take those next steps.
Kofi Darku: There are a lot of leaders out there that I'm sure are listening. So if you're interested in this opportunity, I encourage you to connect with the Indiana Latino Institute. And Marlene, for this episode's purposes, if they want to get in touch with the Indiana Latino Institute, how could they do so?
Marlene Dotson: They can call at 317-472-1055. Ask for Marlene Dotson, and, or they can visit our website. The applications will be-- and information about our program is also now our website, IndianaLatino Institute.org. And email as well, and they will find that in our website.
Kofi Darku: Wonderful. So I'm really, really delighted with this episode because again, the Skill Up Build Up podcast is focused on leveraging those best practices. And as you hear, there is a lot happening with the Latino community in terms of preparing leaders. I want to thank Juan, Anabel, Rachel, and Marlene for being on this episode, and if you want to stay engaged with this conversation and what else is happening with workforce development, please continue to check out the Skill Up Build Up podcast wherever you get podcasts.
Kofi Darku: The takeaways for this awesome episode-- they just are leaders that happen to be Latino. I feel like that's the next level as we start to embrace diversity more, that we realize we're all in together, that some of us happen to have different backgrounds, but we're still all together. They're just leaders that happen to be Latino. Also I feel like it's really critical that the Leadership Circle provides a toolkit for learning about policy and effecting change. I was really happy that Juan was able to distill that and help us realize, wow. I mean that's a powerful thing that they're learning in about a year's time and then they're going to continue to take that going forward. Also, key takeaway-- we went in depth and really tried to understand the power of organic mentorships. Obviously there's a structured approach that ILI is going forward with, but they also realize how the informal or organic style of mentorship is extremely powerful and making a lot of impact as well. And I really, really love that, in all of this work, ILI knows that their mentorship is designed to make sure no participant walks alone. They have others with them that are part of this, this journey, this struggle, as they make sure that there's more representation in leadership throughout the state of Indiana by the Latino population. Again, a phenomenal episode. I'm so grateful that you all were able to listen. If you want to stay engaged with the conversation, please continue to follow Skill Up Build Up at our website or go to iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Stay engaged.