Recently, Communications Committee members Katherine Dreher and Amber Crossen sat down with CWIP WLMP Mentor and longtime CWIP member, Christy Uchida, Senior Program Officer at The Brinson Foundation, to discuss the role of mentorship in Christy’s professional development and how the CWIP community has helped her build deeper and stronger connections to fellow women in philanthropy.
Christy became a member of CWIP in 2012 after being encouraged to join by her former colleague, Cheryl Heads, who served on the CWIP Board of Directors at the time. “This organization is about supporting women in the field and I liked that it created a space for both grant makers and grant seekers. So it didn’t take much convincing,” Christy said.
About a year after joining, Christy was invited to get involved in the WLMP mentoring program. She says participating in this program has been one of her favorite things about CWIP. “CWIP creates an amazing opportunity to network and create space, provide opportunity for leadership positions that can help you grow within your own career,” Christy said. “You can utilize this organization as a platform to show what it is you’re interested and want to do within your career development.”
Why Did You Get Involved in the Mentorship Program?
“It’s helpful to remember what it’s like to be an entry level professional in the field,” Christy said, reflecting on the mutual benefit of the WLMP mentoring program for both the mentors and the mentees. “It’s always good to create these relationships and it even helps to bridge generational gaps. I think that being a mentor helps you create in-depth relationships, and I have realized that I have just as much to learn as I do to offer mentees.”
“It’s such a supportive community and the structure of the program itself is so clear and helpful. It’s well organized, intentional and well done, which is reflective of CWIP as well. If you want to get something done well, give it to a non-profit professional!”
How Have You Continued to Work with Past Mentees?
During the interview, Christy shared several examples of how she continues to stay in touch with, and learn from, her past mentees:
“Ashley Brown, who is now at the AIDS Foundation, was a past mentee of mine and I am glad to say that I helped in some way to connect her to the position she is in now. While she didn’t make the move to that position in the year that we were mentoring, we would meet for coffee, even after mentoring, and talk about her making the move, which she was able to do. Another past mentee of mine was Jenny Shanks, who is at the Siragusa Foundation, and it was great because we had so much in common in our work and what our foundations were working on. The learning in that relationship was definitely both ways; I learned as much from her as I hope that she learned from me. And after having been a mentee, she went on to become a mentor as well. We have continued to stay in touch and it’s great to see.”
What Is the Best Professional Advice that You’ve Received?
We couldn’t finish our conversation with Christy without asking her about the best professional advice she has received so far:
“The best advice I received is that networking is key,” Christy said. “Networking is how I got to where I am in my career. My past jobs, I either knew individuals on the board or even knew the person who had my position before me. So mentorship and CWIP are just so important because they help create those relationships between people who may not otherwise know each other. It’s so important for women to help other women. Many women have supported me, and I have definitely benefited from other women mentoring and supporting me.”
Thank you to Christy for taking the time to sit down with us and for sharing your tips from a mentor. Applications for this year’s WLMP mentoring program have been submitted, so connect with CWIP on social media and look out for the announcement of this year’s mentor/mentee pairs!
-- Katherine Dreher and Amber Crossen