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Home    >    Mentoring Women for Leadership
Mentoring Women for Leadership
Empowering the Next Generation
Saundra H. Starks, Gayle M. Mallinger, Christa C. Gilliam, Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi, and Cathryne L. Schmitz
ISBN: 978-0-87101-566-2. 2021. Item #5662. 174 pages.
Adobe Digital Editions required for eBook downloads.
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Women are no strangers to leadership. Across multiple disciplines, women have built and maintained organizations, created social justice movements, governed with compassion, and brought order where there was once chaos. Female leaders understand that the oppression of all women creates cultural biases that are increased when merged with other identities, including race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, and class. These intersecting variables are even more noteworthy today, as we navigate a historic racial reckoning, political turmoil, and the post-pandemic “new normal.”

Women who lead effectively know the importance of lifting as we climb—of bringing other women along—and that mentoring is a critical component to the leadership development process. To ensure the success of tomorrow’s female pioneers, leadership development must start early and continue throughout their academic, social, and emotional development. We must empower women with skills, strengths, and resources, and we must protect the spaces that allow them to develop and grow their leadership skills.

Mentoring Women for Leadership can serve as a guide for educators, students, practitioners, and administrators to support the growth and development of female leaders. The book includes a historical, global overview of women in social work, political, social justice, and other leadership positions. It provides theoretical frameworks and practical knowledge and skills related to leadership development, including the pipelines and pathways for preparing and supporting women in leadership.
Foreword by Mildred “Mit” C. Joyner, DPS, BSW, LCSW, President of the National Association of Social Workers
Dedication
Preface
Acknowledgments

Chapter 1: Women and Leadership: Reflecting Back, Moving Forward
Chapter 2: Contexts and Frameworks Anchoring Compassionate Leadership
Chapter 3: Frameworks for Engagement: Feminism, Intersectionality, and Relational–Cultural Theory
Chapter 4: Leaning In: Mentoring Is Leading Forward
Chapter 5: The Changing Face of Leadership: Lifting while We Climb
Chapter 6: Contemporary Influences: Women Leading Forward
Chapter 7: To the Future with Women in Leadership
Epilogue: A New Beginning
Appendix A: Leadership and Mentoring Resources
Appendix B: Mentoring Women BINGO
Appendix C: Personal and Professional Development Inventory (PDI)
Appendix D: Racism and Antiracism: Resources on History, Resilience, and Change

References
Index
About the Authors
Christa C. Gilliam, PhD, MSW, is an assistant professor and chair of the Department of Social Work at Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland. A California native, she moved to Baltimore to pursue her PhD after more than 10 years of practicing in the public sector serving children and families. Her interests are rooted in her experience as a practitioner turned academic. She earned her PhD in social work from Morgan State University, where her dissertation research examined human service leadership. She earned a master’s in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor of arts in liberal arts from California State University, East Bay. Since 2005, Dr. Gilliam has worked in higher education advancing the mission of social work through teaching on both undergraduate and graduate levels, service to the profession and community, and research on topics that advance social and economic justice. Her current research focuses on social work workforce development, leadership, professional mentoring, and social work policy and practice in urban communities. Through research, she is committed to educating students, scholars, and the practice community about the opportunities and challenges facing the profession. She currently serves on the CSWE Council on the Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education. In her spare time, she can be found in a sewing class, where she has discovered a passion for quilting.

Gayle M. Mallinger, PhD, MSW, is associate professor of social work at Western Kentucky University, earned her MSW and PhD in social work at the University of Pittsburgh. She currently serves as a Communities of Practice fellow, examining cultural inclusion in curricula and pedagogy. A recipient of the 2017 University Award for Public Service, she continues to be committed to instituting and evaluating projects helping undergraduate students meet the needs of local communities and organizations. She primarily teaches human behavior and the social work environment, cultural diversity, social welfare policy, and generalist practice. Her scholarship focuses on examining the influence of intersecting contexts on individual, family, community, and organizational resilience. Her current work is centered on the efficacy of institutional climate and culture on leadership opportunities for women in the academy.

Cathryne L. Schmitz, PhD, MSW, is a professor emerita in the Department of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). Her contributions to the existing literature include the analyses of critical multiculturalism, environmental justice, global engagement, leadership and organizational development, community building, peace building, interdisciplinary education, and the privilege–oppression nexus. Her expertise in intercultural global education, environmental education, knowledge building, and curriculum development have benefited both academia and community. Dr. Schmitz is currently focusing on the areas of the global environmental crisis, dismantling structures of oppression, identity and culture, interdisciplinary knowledge building, and organizational and community transformation. She has expanded her contributions to teaching, scholarship, and service through her cross-disciplinary appointments with the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies and the Program in Women and Gender Studies as well as her association with the UNCG Center for New North Carolinians.

Saundra H. Starks, EdD, MSW, LCSW, is a full professor of social work and the MSW program director at Western Kentucky University. She has over 45 years of professional social work experience, including teaching, research, consultation, training, supervision, and clinical practice. She has produced numerous presentations and publications in the areas of diversity, women, spirituality, mental health, supervision, cultural competency, and leadership training. Dr. Starks also maintains a part-time psychotherapy practice in Bowling Green, Kentucky (Bower, Starks, Reeves & Hayes). In addition, she serves on several local, national, and international community service committees and boards. Indicative of her extensive commitment to the global community, Dr. Starks was the most recent past president of the Bowling Green International Center Board for refugee resettlement. Likewise, she has extensive experiences in teaching study abroad courses in Taiwan, Tanzania, Ghana, and Belize. A current scholarship passion for Dr. Starks is a research project called Project Rafiki in Tanzania that is an interdisciplinary food assistance program for a center that provides services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Among her many years of extraordinary contributions to the profession is her current post as the chair of the board for the national Council on Social Work Education.

Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi, PhD, MSW, is dean and professor of the College of Health & Society at Hawai’i Pacific University, Honolulu. She has kuleana (responsibility) over the disciplines of nursing, public health, and social work. Prior to her current post, she was a professor and associate dean in the School of Social Work at Morgan State University, Baltimore. Her areas of teaching include social policy, human behavior and the social work environment, organizational leadership, and cultural diversity. Her two areas of scholarship are Pacific Islander culture and community and women of color in academia, in which she has contributed extensively through articles, chapters, references, and books. She is a proud co-founder/co-editor of Urban Social Work, a new peer-reviewed journal and partnership among Morgan State University, Lehman College, Hawai’i Pacific University, New York Community Trust, and Springer Publishing. Dr. Vakalahi’s eclectic educational background, with a BS in Business Management (BYU—Hawai’i), MSW (University of Hawai′i—Manoa), and MEd and PhD in social work (University of Utah), have informed her leadership, scholarship, teaching, and service, through which she hopes to have forwarded social and economic justice in some small way.
“Women leaders take the risks that otherwise would not be taken; we listen to the people who otherwise would not be listened to; and we support those who might otherwise not be supported. Most important, we can accelerate the change needed for a transformation to occur because we believe that access to basic needs in our society cannot be optional. Great leaders light the path and lead others. The goal is not just to reach greatness in ourselves but to reach down and help others. The authors of this book highlight why and how they mentor others. They have given many in the next generation the gift of using their own voice. They have created change because they have listened to the voices of others. [They] write about how and why it is necessary to build a village of women thought leaders. Most important, they document the path of this success throughout the book.”

Mildred “Mit” C. Joyner, DPS, BSW, LCSW
President of the National Association of Social Workers
Social change is not going to come from just knowing more information,
but from doing something with it. (Mancini, 2014)

Today’s leaders who possess the strongest characteristics for mentoring others are unselfish risk takers, with the ability to nurture others. Leaders enjoy creating opportunities for new leaders to come together as scholars to create and act on a common agenda. Mentor leaders focus on uplifting others by sharing information that encourages mentees to build upon their own agenda, and these leaders provide wise counsel on how to avoid pitfalls and adjust to setbacks. I have found that the major goal of most women leaders is to liberate those they mentor in order for them to achieve the collective agenda, which is to advocate for racial, social, economic, environmental, and political justice for all.

Women leaders who mentor others realize that no one stands alone. No one who serves as a leader in any position effectively could do so without the help and support of others. Their colleagues, organizational partners, board members, faculty, students, staff, and even friends and family have, by example, all taught effective leaders how to navigate the maze of demands in order to excel. Successful mentors build relationship with mentees that are unique to each personality. As the relationship blossoms, it is inevitable that mentors and mentees collaborate on ideas, present together, write articles and books together, and, at times, serve as each other’s conscience. The reciprocity and respect that mentors often have with their mentees can maximize creativity and productivity for both parties.

When women lead, they attract and mentor creative minds. We know through numerous examples, including graduates of programs that support education in social and health sciences, such as the Council on Social Work Education Minority Fellowship Program and the Gero-Ed scholars and fellows, as well as exemplary undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, that a positive mentor experience helped them excel in their careers. Mentor leaders understand there is a need to sustain a pool of future leaders who are passionate and committed. They clearly understand and accept the significance of advocacy for those who are vulnerable. Mentees must also have the capacity, curiosity, scholarship, knowledge, and courage to acquire the necessary resources to bring about change in all communities.

Those we mentor lead across many disciplines. I believe social workers are intellectually gifted problem solvers who possess the competence to realign our social systems and related institutions and have the ability to bring forth favorable outcomes. Fields such as social work are guided by their values and ethics. Justice and equity are a core, deeply rooted value of the profession. Those we commit to mentor become the next generation of thought leaders and are expected to protect and guard the mission and purpose of the profession. Their values serve as a moral compass and a rallying point. They let the community know who we are and that for which we stand.

If I have learned anything over the years through leadership roles, it is that equity is a defining principle. Equity speaks to class, race, ethnicity, gender, and gender identification. It speaks to life experiences. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963), wrote: "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" (para. 4).

Although great strides have been made, we cannot rest until older adults, people of color, immigrants, veterans and their families, children of all ages, people in poverty, women, the LGBTQ community, and others secure their rightful place as full participants in a secure, prosperous, liberated, and just society. It is imperative as women leaders that we underscore the importance of being as courageous as our pioneer leaders, such as Elaine Pinderhughes, June Gary Hopps, Barbara White, Ruth Madden, Wilma Peebles-Wilkins, Ruth McRoy, and so many others. Together, just as they did, we must demand that society be inclusive and provide opportunities for all of its members. As leaders we will expose the “isms” and speak out loudly about the inconsistencies wherever systemic institutional oppressions occur. As women leaders, we continue to mentor others so that they too have the confidence to stand tall and state, without apologizing, that classism, sexism, elitism, ageism, homophobia, and racism are not the principles that our society embraces, let alone wants to sustain.

To quote the words of the late Barbara Jordan (1976), "For all of its uncertainty, we cannot flee the future. We must not become the new puritans and reject our society. We must address and master the future together. It can be done if we restore the belief that we share a sense of national community, that we share a common national endeavor" (para. 13).

Among the reasons women leaders and their mentees serve as effective change agents is that they have the ability to make the connections that otherwise would not be made. Women leaders take the risks that otherwise would not be taken; we listen to the people who otherwise would not be listened to; and we support those who might otherwise not be supported. Most important, we can accelerate the change needed for a transformation to occur because we believe that access to basic needs in our society cannot be optional. From the words of Dr. King, “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” (Classic Media, 2015). Women leaders who mentor others understand: “When you learn, you teach / When you teach, you get / When you get, you give.” Great leaders light the path and lead others. The goal is not just to reach greatness in ourselves but to reach down and help others. The authors of this book highlight why and how they mentor others. They have given many in the next generation the gift of using their own voice. They have created change because they have listened to the voices of others.

This book expands on the work contained in the book Women of Color as Social Work Educators: Strengths and Survival edited by Halaevalu F. Ofahengaue Vakalahi, Saundra Hardin Starks, and Carmen Ortiz Hendricks. The authors of Mentoring Women for Leadership: Empowering the Next Generation write about how and why it is necessary to build a village of women thought leaders. Most important, they document the path of this success throughout the book. In the pages that follow, you will read about mentors who built lasting affirmative relationships with their mentees as they tirelessly worked to elevate new voices. They built a treasure chest of diverse women who are leaders, advancing new knowledge as they take the time to engage others. Their passion for helping others has created a stronger pool of women leaders. Amplifying new voices results in new ideas, new solutions, and a more inclusive table. This creative transformative process allowed the authors to practice the art of Sankofa, learning from the past while building for the future. Enjoy the read, take notes, and incorporate lessons learned into your practice.

Mildred “Mit” C. Joyner, DPS, BSW, LCSW
President of the National Association of Social Workers