Let’s say you’ve been an active Sierra Club member for some time and you decide to up the ante and become chapter chair. But quickly you discover that for all your passion and commitment, leading effective meetings isn’t your forte. Neither are the administrative tasks that come with the job. And what to do about those two conservation committee members who are forever quibbling?
That’s where the Sierra Club’s Mentoring Program comes in. Less than a year old, the program pairs veteran leaders with volunteers new to their leadership roles. The program’s goals are twofold: to help get knowledge and expertise to new leaders; and to keep past leaders engaged. “Often a chapter chair will complete their term and then, for all intents and purposes, disappear,” says program co-director and Delaware Chapter Chair Matt Urban. “The Mentoring Program is an effort to keep those people in the loop by helping new leaders to learn the ropes—it’s about fostering relationships between leaders and sharing information in an informal way.”
The program is an outgrowth of a recent study of national advocacy groups by Harvard public policy professor Marshall Ganz and the Sierra Club. That study, “National Purpose, Local Action,” found that the Club could be more effective in its grassroots work if it placed more emphasis on training and nurturing volunteer leaders. Urban and fellow Delaware Chapter leader Debbie Heaton launched a pilot project in May 2005, pairing four veteran leaders with newcomers.
Find out more at clubhouse.sierraclub.org/ leaders/mentoring.
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