Gladys S. Dunston and Patrice Webb
NABSW officially established the Sankofa Mentorship Project (SMP) in 1997 under the leadership of the appointed chairs, G. Rosaline Preudhomme and Laura House who were mentor and mentee, respectively. During the first year of the project, approximately 28 mentors were matched with 33 mentees. The project adopted the Ghanaian Akan symbol, “Sankofa”, depicting the bird that carries its egg on the back of its neck conveying the message of reaching back and within to pass on knowledge and wisdom to others. The overall objective was to encourage, cultivate and support emerging leaders to assume leadership roles within NABSW as well as throughout our communities. Having struggled for almost 30 years to become a viable Black organization, many of our seasoned members/leaders were capable, prepared, and willing to give back in the interest of organization posterity.
The newly elected President, Dr. Gloria Baptist-Roberts, appointed the current SMP co-chairs during the October 2006 Steering Committee meeting, and that we engage in our own mentor-mentee relationship as a model for the project. Prior to our initial get-acquainted session, we met and communicated regularly via telephone and email. Subsequently, SMP co-chair/mentee, Patrice Webb, will attend the January 2007 Steering Committee meeting to report on the SMP proposed goals and objectives.
In preparation for renewing the SMP, we have found that numerous organizations and businesses have adopted mentoring programs that are touted as successful in providing direct one-on-one support of its membership and/or employees. One such business is Essence Magazine whose monthly promotional appeal is calling upon the Black community to develop and implement mentorship programs that will offer support and guidance especially for our youth. We are encouraged and proud to note that NABSW has already demonstrated the value of mentorship with testimonies of several participants who have maintained their mentor/mentee relationships since 1997.
This current SMP initiative is expected to continue the path that was initially established. The committee will embellish that endeavor with efforts to secure 100% participation from all of the NABSW chapters by the 2008 national conference. The initial step is to have each chapter respond to a questionnaire that will assist with “keeping it real” based on the needs of individual chapters. It is anticipated that NABSW will realize significant growth as a result of establishing an active and vibrant mentorship program within every chapter.
SMP committee goals 2007:
v Secure completed questionnaires from all chapters by April 2007
v Draft SMP suggested guidelines for developing mentorship projects by April 2007
v Evaluate SMP with follow up with each chapter by October 2007
v Submit proposal for SMP workshop and collective chapter celebration at 2008 NABSW Conference
The SMP moves ahead enthusiastically with the Maat value of reciprocity and the Kwanzaa principle of Kujichagulia (self determination) for the desired growth and strength of NABSW. We will do this together in the spirit of HARAMBEE.
“They (Great Leaders) embrace people and then empower them” -- Dr. Johnetta Cole