Jo-Ann Schofield, president and chief operating officer of the Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership, was recently appointed to a national advisory panel for mentoring. As a member of The Mentoring Partnership Advisory Council, Schofield and her colleagues from around the nation will focus on topics in the areas of quality-based mentoring, resource development, public awareness, public policy and research. Schofield, who recently earned a certificate of nonprofit studies from Rhode Island College, describes herself as a lifelong learner. She has been mentoring a child for three years who is currently in fourth grade.
PBN: How long have you been with RIMP and what makes you passionate about mentoring programs?
SCHOFIELD: With my 15 years on staff, it’s easy to be passionate when you see the difference mentoring can make in a young person’s life. I’ve met some incredible mentors and mentees, and I realize that one individual mentor can have a huge impact on a youth that may drift toward a not-so-positive life path. I hear success stories that give me goose bumps. The best way to ensure a better future for our kids and ourselves is to build the foundation for positive mentoring relationships to flourish.
PBN: Tell us a little about the responsibilities you’ll undertake.
SCHOFIELD: Each member of the council is assigned an area of expertise – mine is marketing and recruitment. State partnerships are designed to provide the tools that both existing and new mentoring programs need to start or strengthen their programs. I am the only member of the council that actually operates programs! My role is to bring that firsthand experience and my “in-the-trenches” point of view to our work. We are also liaisons to others in the field.
PBN: What’s one RIMP experience or accomplishment that you think your fellow council members might enjoy learning more about?
SCHOFIELD: One of the most innovative events we have is our annual “Dancing with the Stars of Mentoring!” fundraiser. It’s brought much-needed dollars and awareness to mentoring, enabling us to serve more youth. We recruit six to eight “stars,” people who know and love us who agree to practice for three months with a professional dancer from the Dancin’ Feelin’ and raise money. This year’s event is Thursday, April 25. •