This year, over 150 students are participating in the one-on-one mentor program. Highlighting the stories of mentor and mentee pairs not only demonstrates the wonderful contribution that mentors make to students' professional development but also encourages more significant relationships in other mentor and mentee pairs. This month’s featured pair 2019 MPP Graduate Adam Flores and his mentor, 2018 CLA Fellow, Brian Richardson, Midwest Regional Director of Lambda Legal.

Adam Flores, MPP Class of 2019, Mentee:

What have you learned from your mentor this year?

After our first meeting, my mentor, Brian, offered to connect me with multiple people within his network who work in policy areas and spaces in which I am interested. With these connections, Brian also provided valuable advice on how to approach and be intentional during informational meetings. He shared with me some of the best practices he’s learned from being on both ends of the table in a meeting. Simple gestures, such as offering to help the person with whom you are meeting, even if they are unlikely to need it, show that you are willing to reciprocate and not just use them to advance your own interests.

What can mentors provide to students above and beyond what they learn in class?

In the classroom, we’re taught necessary skills, like how to create and deliver visually- appealing and informative presentations. Mentors, however, bring lessons from their own experiences navigating the job market, finding balance between work and personal lives, and understanding and managing office culture. They are a bridge that connects life in the classroom and life in the professional world.

What attracted you to the mentorship program?

I was interested in building a relationship with someone with a background similar to my own who has broken into the same policy areas in which I am also interested. Specifically, it was important for me to connect with an LGBTQ-identified professional who could speak to the challenges of being queer in this space and could help guide me as I prepare to leave Harris.

What have you appreciated most about your relationship with your mentor?

Brian and I have maintained an honest dialogue throughout our relationship. We’ve learned more and more about each other’s personal histories and lives that, although they are separate from, very much inform our professional paths and goals. I anticipate we’ll continue to build our relationship through that open dialogue after I graduate this spring.

Will you be interested in mentoring students after you graduate?

Absolutely. I believe it’s important to share one’s experiences and knowledge with emerging policy professionals, especially those who are new to the field and/or those who come from traditionally underrepresented groups. For me, it has been incredibly meaningful to have someone with whom I can speak candidly about the anxieties and hopes I have as I prepare to re-enter the professional world full time.

Brian Richardson (CLA'18), Mentor:

Why did you want to participate as a mentor in the program?

When I was asked if I would consider serving as a mentor, I jumped at the chance. As an openly queer man whose career had included roles in both queer and non-queer organizations, I requested being paired with a student who shares a similar interest in LGBTQ equity. 

Have you had mentors in your life? How did they impact you and how has that shaped your professional career?

No one ever makes it on their own. I know I've been privileged and lucky to benefit from the support, resources and knowledge provided to me by mentors, friends and colleagues throughout my career. 

What have you liked most about working with your current mentee?

The optimal mentor/mentee relationship is a two-way street. I hope I've been able to provide access, resources and information to Adam; truth be told, he's provided me with opportunities and knowledge as well. I'm inspired and invigorated by his own energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and wherewithal to improve our community, city and world. I've been introduced to more people at Harris and got to participate in a panel that Adam moderated. Similarly, I've been able to invite Adam to events my organization and others have hosted and introduce him to leaders in LGBTQ policy across the state.