New Year, New Beginnings

The members of Minds Matter of San Francisco’s graduating class of 2013 have all gone off to college! And along with last year’s senior class, some notable players on the executive team have also graduated. After years of dedication to the San Francisco chapter, CEO Naveed Ahmad, President Joe Du Bey, CFO Alexandra Walter, and COO Avery Duer have retired. As they embark on their next adventures, one common theme resonates.The confidence in the new steering committee and the excitement about the impact to come is unanimous.

Naveed and Alexandra helped found the San Francisco chapter four years ago. Joe and Avery initially joined as mentors, but wanted to become more involved. While all of them learned about Minds Matter in different ways, their unwavering commitment to the mission of the organization was identical.

Chief Program Officer Sherry Li appreciates the foundation the old team was able to lay. "I thought last year's Steering Committee was very proactive in seeking feedback on how to improve the organization and took action from that feedback," said Sherry. "They also had a good vision for the organization and enabled this year's new team to make bigger improvements."

Even with business school classes, new causes to champion, and careers to nurture, the old steering committee remains involved.

“I’m now on the Board of Directors,” said Naveed. “And I’m really looking forward to strengthening the governance of the org. I’ll be working to build out that community a little further and, of course, cheerlead from the sidelines.”

Having championed the chapter to evolve and solidify, Naveed is impressed by the consistent quality of the volunteer group. “In all experiences, it’s always the people that make the difference. That is the reason we are able to have the impact that we do,” said Naveed. “It’s been really special to look at the community that has coalesced around, and frankly defines Minds Matter.”

Another example of a star volunteer is Avery. Beyond serving as the Chief Operating Officer, Avery was also a mentor for two years. Her favorite part of Minds Matter was witnessing the transformation of her mentee, Xiu Ying. Xiu made progress in both her writing and test taking skills, and gained noticeable confidence by working with her mentors.

Mentees, however, were not the only ones who matured.  Joe felt that the volunteer experience offered him invaluable self-awareness. “I think I grew a ton,” said Joe, who was both President and a mentor for two years. “When you’re in your early to mid 20s, nobody asks you to lead. I think it’s really refreshing to put yourself out there and set the tone, and create the structure, and really be a part of something. And it’s not just one person. I think everyone on the exec team is put in a position where they are empowered to lead. It’s such a positive experience.”

Sessions have restarted: new mentor-mentee pairs have met, and the old ones have reunited. Ringing in the new school year, Joe offered some words of wisdom for current volunteers.

To mentors: “Try to connect with your mentee as an individual, and try to be someone they can turn to, and really be there for them.”

To the executive team: “Make sure you create a community that people want to join and contribute to, and you create a brand people want to believe in.  The most central job is to create a vision that everyone can get behind.”