Meet Stacy Morris, Mentor at EmpowHer Institute
Last year I had the opportunity to work with EmpowHer Institute and see the value of mentoring young girls in a powerful way. This organization is the only gender-responsive one in Los Angeles County that provides a social emotional learning course during the school day in middle and high schools. They understand what mentoring is and how meaningful it is to girls and their families. During COVID the organization has adapted to virtual learning and addressing more complex needs.
Dawn L. Brown, their new CEO and I were talking about the life experiences of these amazing young girls and the power of mentoring. I asked to meet one of their mentors and learn more about this labor of love. You will get a chance here to meet Stacy Morris. She is one of the 100+ mentors at EmpowHer and she has been working with them for over three years. I wanted to find out what drew her to mentoring.
Sherry: What attracted you to being a mentor?
Stacy: I have always been committed to female empowerment. In my own home, I was raised with a strong female role model. My mom was a working mom and she wanted us to be strong and have our own voice. I recall times when she would encourage me to share my opinion and be independent. She had us do chores at an early age and I was given a sense of responsibility. I had to carry my own weight.
Sherry: What made you decide on EmpowHer Institute?
Stacy: I moved to LA six years ago and I was looking for an organization that I could contribute to – one that supports the next generation of young women. They give me a gift through this experience. I am so impressed with the EmpowHer girls for they are emotionally mature in ways that always surprise me. They are level-headed and give me faith in the future. All those I have mentored have been 8th grade middle school girls. They do have challenges and unpredictable family circumstances. I recall that my own mentors helped shape my idea of success and I wanted to pay it forward.
Sherry: Tell me about the relationship and outcomes you see between you and your mentee?
Stacy: Before COVID, the relationship started off with four girls to one mentor. We would meet them every month. At this time, I am working with one girl and it is all virtual. That has its challenge for sure but it more important now than ever.
As far as the outcomes, I don’t usually truly notice the impact till the end. The most important aspect of this relationship is being there for them and listening a lot. We talk about their emotions, dealing with remote learning and how they are doing at home. When we were meeting in person, there was an opportunity to meet the other mentors as well. We had break-out sessions and could learn and share with the other mentor-mentee groups. We are now doing that virtually and it is great to know of the other mentor experiences.
I can see that the girls need and value an example of what is possible, showing them access to different people and various pictures of success. I can share my own story and the journey of my career but mostly I am listening to them. It is really a tough age for them and I want them to know we are there and support them individually. The goal is to set a loving and embracing environment and one where they are open to share their own experiences and feelings.
EmpowHer Institute invests in training us too. There is a mandatory training before you start along with a training guide which helps to establish guidelines for the mentoring relationship.
Sherry: What have you learned about yourself from this experience?
Stacy: I need to share more. I have learned this by listening more and then in an effort to engage them I make an effort to share more about me. I give them an example of my own experiences from school to working and making decisions about their future careers. When I began mentoring, I went into this thinking that it should be all about them but learned they want to also hear from me too and understand my perspective.
Sherry: How has COVID impacted your mentoring?
Stacy: It has made the relationship building experience much more difficult. Mentoring the girls virtually means that the mentee might not feel comfortable having the camera, or she may not have a private space for our conversation and there is a lot happening in their household. Family dynamics can get in the way and if someone is there they may not be as open. We have to make sure the time works for them.
Sherry: What do you recommend for those interested in mentoring?
Stacy: Do it for the right reason. Be ready to truly be there for the kids. Support them and enjoy using your active listening skills. This is not about your ego.
This is about supporting them through the ups and downs of middle school life.
I think being aware of your own emotions strengthens your ability to be there for them. They are self-conscious at this age so it means more reaching out from our perspective. The more human and authentic you are the better for the developing relationship and resulting positive outcomes.
To learn more about EmpowHer Institute please visit their website at https://empowher.org.
More about Stacy:
Stacy Morris is the founder of Futurista Communications. Stacy helps growth oriented companies develop communications and brand strategies. She spent approximately 10 years working at BMW of North America where she led numerous award winning PR campaigns and was responsible for the communications strategy for multiple divisions within the business. Stacy left BMW to become Head of Communications & Marketing for Faraday Future, an electric vehicle startup. At Faraday, she led the brand strategy, messaging and PR for the company. Stacy has a Bachelor of Arts and Business Degree with a major in Psychology and minors in Communications and Human Resource Management from the University of Waterloo in Canada.