The Catalyst Kitchens Mentorship Program
At Catalyst Kitchens, we focus on building the capacity of non-profit foodservice job training programs through our membership network and consulting services.
We know that building capacity isn't just about program design and large structural changes. It starts with people. Intentional professional development can be a challenge to priortize in the workplace, especially for busy nonprofits that put their students first and have limited resources.
We developed our pilot mentorship program in 2019 to provide an avenue for members to seek guidance from professionals across the network. Our goal is to create connections that foster professional growth and reflection.
Mentor Paul Fordham, Deputy Director at Homeward Bound of Marin, and Erin Alston, Special Events Manager at FareStart, kick off our mentorship program in January 2019 during our annual Catalyst Kitchens Leadership Summit hosted at FareStart headquarters in Seattle, WA.
The value of having an unbiased mentor
For obvious reasons, it's best for a mentor to be someone other than a direct manager or report to create an open, honest environment. This allows for unbiased feedback your performance objectives and professional aspirations. To take this approach one step further, we paired our mentors and mentees across different organizations for participants to experience coaching without an internal agenda. This dynamic can create a greater sense of trust and perspective when discussing current challenges.
An opportunity for reflection
We know you're busy. It's easy to rush through the day-to-day at work and miss out on taking time to step back and reflect. CK Mentorship participants reported that their intentional discussions helped them recognize solutions to roadblocks they'd been facing in their jobs. “I got a lot out of being a mentor. It has emphasized the importance of taking time for reflection and provides a powerful tool to see how things change over time as circumstances progress" said Paul Fordham of Homeward Bound of Marin. "I enjoyed the experience of asking questions and listening instead of simply giving advice or direction.”
Future plans for the Catalyst Kitchens Mentorship Program
Our 2019 mentorship cohort ended in July 2019. We are preparing to launch our 2020 program with rolling applications and mentor/mentee matching to open the program to more interested member staff members. Members will receive information about our upcoming mentorship program through our newsletter emails or the members portal on our website.