The first cohort of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Alumni Mentoring Program officially launched on February 20, 2013 in Princeton, NJ. Twenty mentors and twenty mentees, having applied and been selected to be part of the Mentoring Program, participated in a full day of training with consultant Rae Ringel, [Class 9].  The Mentoring Program was developed in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation.

The group began in-depth training initially as a whole, and then in their mentoring pairings, culminating in a brit – contractual agreement
 between each mentor and mentee, mapping out their course over the next twelve months.

Each team of mentors and mentees has been meeting either by phone, Skype, or in certain cases, in person, on an average of every three weeks, crafting agendas as they proceed, sharing case studies, immediate work related challenges, and often issues of work-life balance.

Teams receive articles or conversation guides every few months to enhance the mentoring process.

Cindy Chazan, Foundation Vice President and Director of the Mentoring Program, and Rae Ringel have just completed first-quarter one-on-one check-in calls with each mentor and mentee.  The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  On these calls, mentors have been given additional coaching to support their efforts and expand their skills. 

Alumni mentees shared best examples of engagement with their mentors and all expressed gratitude for the privilege to receive the gift of a trained mentor and for having a more formalized structure to give themselves the time for learning and process.

  • “The mentee sets the agenda and has been very thoughtful and reflective. It’s also been incredibly eye opening for me as we’ve explored issues with relationships with her and her senior rabbi.  Mentoring her has helped me look in the mirror and has served as an important reminder of what it means to come into that job.  It has helped me be more sensitive with my own staff.”
  • “I am so grateful to have a mentor who carves out time from his busy schedule to focus on my learning as a new congregational rabbi.” 
  • “When I spoke to my mentor about what was happening in my organization, she put me in touch with senior colleagues who had been in my situation early in their careers and I had the benefit of a team to help me work through challenging issues.” 
  • “The chemistry feels so right. I am able to openly share with my mentor my fear of making a mistake in a given situation and learn from his experiences.” 
  • “I can’t wait for our conversations.  It’s like this great respite once every three weeks.  It feels so good to be in a position to really help someone navigate professional issues. I have also learned so much about myself through this process.  I have served as a mentor for years but this feels different. I think it’s because of the seriousness of the training program when we began and all of the resources given to the mentors.  I feel like it is an investment in me as well. “

Mentors and mentees are planning site visits which will take place in the next months, usually in the hometown of the mentee. An important purpose of the site visit is to give each pairing the opportunity to dive more deeply into important issues and their relationship.  This was designed as an opportunity for mentors to see mentees in their world / work context, and interact appropriately and sensitively with stakeholders and colleagues.  This meeting will also help each team gain perspective on how the mentorship is going thus far, through face-to-face reflection, and then start the goal setting process for the balance of their “contract”. 

Mid-year evaluation will begin this summer so that we can test, modify and tweak the current mentoring program in order to be prepared to launch the application process for the second cohort sometime in November, ultimately seeking 20 mentors (WGF / DS alumni from classes 1 – 15) and 20 mentees (WGF / DS alumni from classes 16 – 22) to officially begin the program with an intensive day of training in February, 2014.

For more information, please contact Cindy Chazan at