Emerging Leaders Co-Mentorship Launch 2015!


We are now off and running with the third iteration of the Emerging Leaders Mentorship Program!

Every year we are learning how to better support cross-generational learning and healthy working relationships to strengthen individuals and their networks and build the dynamic Midwest climate movement we need.

We have an outstanding pool of participants this year, with 24 people matched across 3 states: Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois.  The group brings a broad range of experiences and perspectives, ranging from grassroots organizing and community-led initiatives to state and federal policy work.  This breadth is an asset, fostering rich conversations and cutting across issue and background, as well as age.

This program is designed to challenge assumptions and unlock innovation.

From the start, we knew we wanted to create a mentorship program that was “egalitarian,” where each participant could contribute as both a learner and a teacher. Our research exploring possible models consistently turned up evidence that peer mentorship results in the strongest relationships and greatest personal growth.

This year we are excited to introduce several new components to the program that will help us better achieve our goals.

Here’s how we facilitate the shared learning experience:

  1. Broad and targeted recruitment around climate movement hot-spots and emerging issue areas across the Midwest
  2. Strategic matching informed by participants with pairing across the age spectrum, connecting individuals with complementary interests and maximizing in-person meeting opportunities
  3. Thorough orientation and personal goal-setting kicking-off the eight month commitment, with a group orientation call and pairs setting their own goals together during their first monthly meeting
  4. Flexible structure offering participants the option to draw from a progression of discussion prompts and activities
  5. Cross-pollination highlighting emerging conversations and insights, monthly for all participants, with discussion supported through an online forum and themed group calls
  6. Closing with reflection, inviting participants to write a statement of intent of how they want to use what they learned, to share at an in-person gathering aligned with the RE-AMP Annual Meeting; feedback will be gathered to improve the program

As we hone these new tools and approaches, we are looking forward to deepening collaboration with the RE-AMP Network, a key partner in accelerating our program resources this year.


The RE-AMP Network, an active network of over 120 nonprofits and 8 foundations across eight Midwest states, was launched to support a collaborative approach to climate work, ultimately reducing carbon emissions economy-wide 80% by 2050. The Will Steger Foundation is a longstanding member, with staff active on the RE-AMP Steering Committee and coordinating the RE-AMP Youth Caucus.

Diving back into the soup of the Network’s innovative origins – this year, the Garfield Foundation is guiding RE-AMP staff in an exploration of “transformative mindsets.” Identified by staff to promote innovation, collaboration, and ultimately transformational work, these “mindsets” offer perspectives useful at the personal and network level. By weaving these mindsets into our activities, we invite our mentorship pairs to join us on the journey.

We are also excited to have our own online landing page on the RE-AMP website, where participants can access all our resources and share ideas across pairs more organically.

The Emerging Leaders Mentorship Program continues to evolve and we are learning more all the time about how to support an empowering shared learning experience and advance a more dynamic and effective Midwest climate movement through strong relationships.

Thank you to everyone who is bringing their energy and thoughts to this program!

Introducing our 2014-2015 Mentorship Program Matches:

Gail Francis – RE-AMP (MN)
Emily Lippold Cheney – Northcountry Cooperative Foundation (MN)

Cliff Martin – Young Peoples Action Coalition (MN)
Dave Snyder – Legal Services Advocacy Project (MN)

Zea Leguizamon – Embody Deep Democracy (MN)
Alex Vagac – Minnesota Public Research Interest Group (MN)

Ryan Stoppera – Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (MN)
Will Copeland – East Michigan Environmental Action Council (MI)

Karen Weldon – Real Food Challenge (MN)
Jahi Chappell – Institute on Agriculture and the Environment (MN)

Tom Elko – Fourth Sector Consulting (MN)
Katie Siegner – Will Steger Foundation / Fourth Sector Consulting (MN)

Lola Schoenrich – Great Plains Institute (MN)
Patty O’Keef – MN350 (MN)

Jackson Koeppel – Soulardarity / Grand Aspirations (MI)
Diana Copeland – East Michigan Environmental Action Council (MI)

Fathi Mahad – Twin Cities Legacy Endeavors/Minnesota Public Research Interest Group (MN)
Savannah Duby – Will Steger Foundation / Grand Aspirations (MN)

Jessica Conrad – RE-AMP (MN)
Ruth Romanger – The Garfield Foundation (CA)

Rev. Brian Sauder – Faith in Place (IL)
Peter Hoy – LETS GO Chicago / Grand Aspirations (IL)

Sarah Bennett – Faith in Place (IL)
Laura Wetter – Angelic Organics (IL)

Stay tuned for updates on emerging insights and trending discussions on the Will Steger Foundation Blog!


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