Work/Life: How Have Your Mentor(s) Impacted You?

A mentor can help shape your career, so we asked association professionals what they’ve learned from their mentor(s).

By About the Author

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Think of your mentor(s). What about their leadership style has impacted you most? What do you try to emulate? 

Not one of us association professionals can say we didn’t have a helping hand when it came to career advancement. Whether your relationship with mentors was formal or not, we’ve all benefited from those who came before us. Perhaps it was an exceptional boss who gave you more than constructive feedback, but also offered practical career advice. Maybe it was a peer whose drive and dedication to their career inspires you. The association management profession is full of mentors and mentees. We’re a tight-knit community of helpers. 

“Over the seven years I have been with ASA, one admittedly unexpected outcome for me is how much exposure I would get to so many different types of leadership styles. I truly value all the candid, fun, serious, smart, and sometimes challenging conversations I have with our physician members, as these are pathways to my personal and professional growth. With the stuff anesthesiologists regularly deal with in the operating room, for example, they are still incredibly kind, empathetic, funny, and patient. Drs. Michael Champeau, Brian Cammarata, Crystal Wright, Kraig de Lanzac, Mary Dale Peterson, Ori Gottlieb, and Elizabeth Rebello are just some who I know I can count on for true collaboration and honest problem-solving discussions. They and many others view staff as project team members and have high levels of expectation, which pushes us to be our best.”


Kim Ellison, MNM, CAE
Governance Manager,
American Society of Anesthesiologists

“What makes a great mentor? Someone who is kind and approachable.  Someone who lifts you up just because. Someone who turns mistakes into teaching moments.

I was lucky enough to work with a wonderful mentor, friend, colleague, and boss who possessed all of these qualities. The positivity that exuded out of this amazing woman was infectious and always motivated me to go above and beyond. Mentor-mentee relationships can be so impactful when they are based in mutual respect and I often think about how I can pay it forward and be a leader in the same way.”

Madh Carson (right)
Director Corporate Relations,
Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals 

“I am drawn to mentors that are confident in taking the lead and doing what is necessary to get the best outcome. That includes not being afraid to fail – as I’ve been told by multiple mentors. Without taking the risk and trying new things, there is no room to grow. This type of encouragement allows me to work knowing I have the support I need to be creative and confident in my own work.”

Larisa Sutton, CAE
Senior Specialist Member Engagement,
American Hospital Association


About the Author

The mission of Association Forum is to advance the professional practice of association management. Founded in 1916, Association Forum serves 3,000 association professionals whose efforts serve more than 27 million members and generate $10 billion in global annual expenditures. Visit for more information.

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