Greetings Advancement Northwest colleagues-

After 15 years of serving as the Director of Development at Rainier Scholars, I have been reflecting on my career journey. What have I learned? What impact have I had? I find myself thinking about legacy and what I’ve accomplished. My unusual pathway to the fundraising arena has been a culmination of direct service work in mental health, youth development, and nonprofit leadership.

My professional journey over the past 40 years has encompassed significant time at three community-based organizations: Children’s Home Society of Washington, the YMCA of Greater Seattle, and Rainier Scholars. Each nonprofit has helped to shape who I am as a fundraising leader.

What now? How could I give back? How might I encourage others to engage in the life-changing work that we do to build community

I became a mentor with AFP Advancement Northwest. I’m currently matched with two amazing and inspiring fundraising professionals: Katy Ahrens, Annual Giving Officer at the Museum of Flight and Teresa Everett, Resource Development Officer at Atlantic Street Center. Like all things in development, relationship building has been key.

A mentoring relationship can be flexible, creative, and customized. I’ve discovered that it is very freeing to not be in the supervisor role. A supervisor is ultimately responsible for outcomes; a mentor is about impact. I see my role as a coach and a guide, creating a safe space and building trust. I provide new perspective. I ask thoughtful questions. “What’s your greatest hope? Your deepest fear?” “What’s getting in the way?” I try to help shed light on strengths and talents. I provide resources. I encourage accountability. And I love it when Katy and Teresa reveal insights and arrive at their own conclusions.

This dynamic is not about being the expert. It’s about listening and leading with your heart. It’s telling stories and using humor. An effective mentor asks hard questions, is honest with feedback, and is committed to helping mentees find their own way.

Teresa and I have regular monthly meetings while Katy and I are less formal and tend to check in quarterly. This rhythm is flexible and based on need. Every time we meet, I learn something new. Mentoring is two-way professional development experience. It’s an opportunity to witness growth and empowerment. It is a gentle reminder that we are all connected through Advancement Northwest in meaningful ways.

I encourage you to consider this unique volunteer opportunity. Help strengthen our community through the power of a mentor relationship cultivating the next generation of fundraising professionals. If you are new in your job, or searching for more meaningful connections with other fundraising professionals apply to be a mentee.

Make an investment in building community. It matters.

Mary Bristow
Proud Mentor
Director of Development, Rainier Scholars

If you interested in joining our Mentoring Program as a mentor or mentee, we invite you to learn more about the program and how to apply on our website.

Did you know that being a mentor can be counted toward CFRE continuing education credits? Mentoring should be recorded under “service learning” when you are completing your re-certification.