On February 22, the Authority held its first “speed mentoring” event for members of the NYCHA Youth Leadership Councils (YLC). Sixty high school students were connected to sixty mentors for a series of short and focused one-on-one conversations aimed at building their networking and public speaking skills.
The mentors, who volunteered their time, included professionals at varying stages of their careers from public, private, and non-profit organizations such as the City Council, State Assembly, Mayor’s Office, CUNY, HBO, JPMorgan Chase, Urban Upbound, and Educators for Excellence. They shared their own professional stories, helping the proteges gain insight and direction for their own educational and career goals. Many of the mentors were NYCHA employees.
“Everyone has their own path to success, but there isn’t always the opportunity to learn from others, to get support from beyond your family,” Lakesha Miller, Acting Executive Vice President of Leased Housing, noted. “This event provided the young NYCHA leaders with a spectrum of possibilities and options, and support for their future endeavors.”
REES Zone Coordinator Metin Sarci participated “to inspire a new generation of adults who want to promote change but are looking to find out what that means and how to do it. We have so many determined individuals, each with their own accomplishments and aspirations. I loved how engaged the youth were in listening to each mentor’s anecdotes, and was left in awe at their passion for obtaining higher education.”
Another mentor, Camille Ky-Smith, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, said that she is fortunate to have had several important mentors throughout her career. “I’m also a mother to three children,” she remarked. “And I saw the event as an opportunity to provide professional guidance and support to a group of students, as I hope others will do for my daughters.”
NYCHA partnered with NYC Service, a division of the Office of the Mayor, to organize the event, using their speed mentoring toolkit as a guide. NYCHA also worked with NYC Service to launch its YLCs. Fourteen YLCs across the city bring together NYCHA residents ages 14 to 21 to address issues in their communities and develop leadership skills.
“This speed mentoring event will help our young NYCHA leaders build critical skills as they continue growing into their roles as leaders of their communities,” said Sideya Sherman, NYCHA’s Executive Vice President for Community Engagement and Partnerships. “This first-time effort represents a clear testament of NYCHA’s commitment as we continue investing in our future generations.”