Lead(h)er, a women’s mentorship and empowerment organization. recently held its fifth-annual Girl on Fire Awards. The program honors women who have exemplified the mission of fueling career and community engagement in the workforce.
Jazmin Newton, attorney and owner of Davenport-based Newton Law, was named 2021 Mentor of the Year, nominated by her mentee Leah Berger, an employment specialist. Newton became a Lead(h)er mentor in the fall of 2019, right before the pandemic hit. This might have crushed many people’s volunteer plans, however, she always made time to stay connected with her mentee.
“Jazmin’s self-discipline to serve her clients and community while also remaining a free-spirited adventurer is something that inspired me.” Berger, her mentee, said. “Her leadership skills are strong in such a variety of settings — from owning a small business as a woman of color to running for office to being a mom and mentor.”
Mentor of the Year is always so competitive because “all of Lead(h)er’s mentors are amazing in their own ways,” group executive director Megan Brown-Saldana said. “This year, our winner is someone who serves our community with more than just mentorship. She has several leadership positions and continues to fight for equality and against injustice.”
“My match is beyond just keeping in contact with me for nearly two years now,” Berger said of Newton. “She has offered crucial guidance for actualizing my ‘what’s next’ not once, but twice. She also set the example of making very intentional decisions about which organizations I participate in.”
The 2021 Mentee of the Year is Marcie Ordaz, director of resource development at Family Resources, matched with Beth Grabin, chief financial officer of BankORION, since Nov. 30, 2020.
Ordaz recently pivoted her career path and with that comes a lot of change. She knew she wanted a career that would be meaningful and rewarding. So she went from a corporate environment to a nonprofit environment and is doing a job that she had never done before.
“I could not be more proud of her for having the courage to pivot and try something new and unfamiliar,” Grabin said.
“This year’s nominees for Mentee of the Year were so impressive. It is clear that women are striving to learn and grow to be better versions of themselves,” Brown-Saldana said. “This year’s winner did just that. She was on the job hunt and took everything her mentor has to say very seriously. She didn’t just commit, she was all in with Lead(h)er. Our winner is resilient — her path has not been easy, but she’s made lemonade out of lemons.”
Grabin said of Ordaz: “She is a kind, genuine person that I’ve really enjoyed becoming friends with. From the first time we spoke, I was impressed and knew that any company that hired her would be lucky to have her. Ultimately, she landed a wonderful role with Family Resources and is thrilled with her new role.”
In its first five years, Lead(h)er has matched a total of 861 mentors and mentees. The program aims to fuel career and community engagement for women, and services are offered free due to the generosity of sponsors. For more information, visit leadherqc.org.