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The first time I was introduced to the concept of mentorship was through the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The title of Dickens’s seminal work refers to the great expectations that the main character Pip has of coming into his benefactor’s property and achieving his intended role as a gentleman at that time. Great Expectations depicts the growth and personal development of Pip, much like the narrative of the DiverseCity Fellows program.
For the past ten months the 26 participants in the DiverseCity Fellows program have been exposed to collaborative leaders from a variety of sectors. We have been provided unprecedented access to some of the most magnetic and ultimately influential leaders to build our own capacity for cross-sectoral city-building. They have been candid in sharing their diverse leadership journeys and the challenges they have faced. While each story highlighted: how the education and training they received swayed their paths; the career milestones where they were afforded greater influence, leadership, and allowance for risk-taking; and the personal adversity they faced along the way, the most poignant theme amongst the chronicles we were exposed to was the importance of the relationships they built along the way, particular with those who mentored them.
The mentorship theme is also consistent with the DiverseCity Fellows story whose ending is still unknown. In fact the DiverseCity initiative is based on the premise that in order to have leaders who reflect the diversity within the Greater Toronto Area, we must build them by creating new relationships and dialogue with individuals, government, organizations, and media.
This year, a mentorship component was added to the DiverseCity Fellows program. As previously alluded to, I was paired a mentor to help guide me in my leadership journey.
Stanley Julien is National Director of the Special Accounts Management Unit of Bank of Montreal Enterprise Risk & Portfolio Management, a member of Investment Banking Group’s Diversity Council, and inaugural member of the DiverseCity Steering Committee. As co-founder and former president of the Toronto chapter of the Urban Financial Services Coalition, Stanley Julien regularly visited Toronto high schools to encourage visible minority students to explore career options in financial services.
Throughout our mentorship relationship it has become evident that Stanley possesses a great deal of humility, and his interest is not in titles or recognition, but rather developing talent in emerging leaders- particularly visible minorities. He continues to push me to solidify and actualize my city-building aspirations and leadership goals, and he shares resources and networks to support me in the DiverseCity Fellows program.
While Stanley is known to me (unlike the benefactor in Great Expectations), his approach is very much minimalist and encouraging. The mentorship relationship makes me accountable to next steps Stanley and I discuss in my leadership journey. When we first met I was contemplating graduate work, and since our meeting I have enrolled in a preparatory class for the standardized testing required for the program I will apply to, set a test date, begun building my story for the letter of intent that accompanies my application, researched potential careers following graduate school, and Stanley has put me in touch with several recent grads from Universities that I have expressed interest in. Likely without his encouragement my goal would still be in an idealization stage, rather than the actualization stage that it is in today.
Informally I have been mentored by many inspiring individuals through my educational and professional endeavours. I have participated as a mentee in the Equal Voice mentorship program and was a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters Halton. Through the DiverseCity Fellows program I have been inspired by powerful leaders who make time to build the talent of emerging leaders, and this has renewed my interest in mentoring others. No matter where I am in my city-building career, I will never be able to achieve outcomes by working alone.
As much as we don’t like to think about or acknowledge it, we do not live forever. I would prefer that my legacy was one of an individual who recognized she was surrounded by talented and skilled individuals, fostered and developed their capacity, and built them as leaders. Perhaps it is possible that in this lifetime I can create social and systemic change as a city-builder.
Tanya Rumble is a social change agent specializing in public health. Tanya is a Health Promoter at Halton Public Health; in this role she also serves as Co-Chair of the Editorial Board for the Society for Public Health Education, and Executive Member of Health Promotion Ontario. She is excited about social finance as a tool for poverty alleviation and is Co-Lead for the Toronto Chapter of the Acumen Fund, and member of the Halton-Peel Grant Review Team of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Tanya is passionately engaged in the DiverseCity initiative, and is a member of the Steering Committee and a 2010 DiverseCity Fellow.