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Mentoring Mantra

When I started in the mentoring space, I wanted to explore the sector and get involved. What I quickly discovered was the crossroads of relationships and movements. Meaning mentoring relationships can help move civil and human rights forward.

In the case of disability rights, this was an opportunity to contribute through the power of relationship and the investment of time. This was an opportunity that was doable. So it happened. I found like-minded individuals and together we created a network called the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC). It now is part of Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) and both NDMC and PYD center on content focused on elevating people, community and rights.

This is an important concept to recall. Starting a network can and does help you, your career and can also help your community.

I hope you choose to get involved and together we will leverage networking, mentoring and each other to realize progress and access real inclusion.

Because we have to keep moving forward.

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Image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holding a speech and talking into a microphone. The image has a quote from MLK, "If you can't fly, then run, if you can't run, the walk, if you can't walk, then crawl, but what ever you do, you have to keep moving forward."

A Message from the Author

This networking guide was created through inputs from a variety of sources from across the United States and through LinkedIn from around the world. Its value is rooted in
the actual successes and failures of approximately 1,500 people. Its value also comes from the perspectives of those community members who shared through their quotes and blogs and through sharing their challenges, successes and recommendations in workshops over the years. It’s meant as a guide to help individuals who need a plan, a confidence boost or a fresh approach.

The idea for the guide came from my work with the Lights! Camera! Access! community, partnering with EIN SOF Communications and PolicyWorks, Inc. Later, it was reinforced by my work with the California Transition Alliance and the process of creating a plain language networking guide for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (as part of the Let’s Work! California YouTube project). And this version was informed by my work as part of the Peer MentoringWorks Community of Practice.

However, this work actually started a long time ago and I thank my family, friends and colleagues for being in my networks and for being my greatest supporters. I also thank my mentors for helping me build a framework to do meaningful work, including Kevin Curtin, Susan Daniels, Dinah Cohen and Barbara Butz, who left part of their legacy in me to grow. You are missed.

If you have a suggestion or comment on the content, please connect with me. I look forward to networking with you.

Derek Shields

National Disability Mentoring Coalition ForwardWorks Consulting, LLC

Email: dshields@forwardworks.net or find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram