Aspire is launching a fresh approach to professional development. The new mentorship program for managers and the formation of the Learning & Development Committee are two initiatives already underway.

Last fall applications were accepted for the mentorship program. The program has several goals. One purpose is the learning that happens in both directions as mentee and mentor work together to improve leadership and supervision skills. Another goal is to provide the participants the opportunity to network and develop relationships with folks across the corporation. Ultimately, the hope is that having mentorship will increase retention for those who participate and the people they supervise.

Eight mentors and eight mentees were selected from a large pool of applicants for the inaugural class. Mentees are managers with a wide range of expertise, from those looking to move into management to employees with years of supervisory experience. Mentors are a group of experienced managers ready to support another person’s career.

The 16 participants, divided into two cohorts, meet monthly as a group for professional development training. They’ve now had their first training on the Basic Principles of Effective Leadership (Zenger Miller Oct 1998). The mentor-mentee pairs also meet weekly to process the training and to share experiences and resources. The formal mentorship lasts a year, and organizers are already looking to implement a second session in 2023. Senior director of service impact, Sherry Lynn MacNeil, is following the outcomes of the program to determine the effectiveness of the effort. Look for announcements next fall for the next class.

The second professional development initiative is much broader. The training task force completed initial work on how Aspire undertakes training across the entire agency. The task force is handing off the project to the newly assembled Learning & Development Committee. They begin meeting in March, led by clinical supervisor, Victoria Gomez, and assistant director, Christy George.

The first task of the Learning & Development Committee will be to ensure that Aspire’s Relias training offerings are cohesive across the organization. They will also be developing a welcome video for new employees. Tasks that will be unfolding in the future include implementing new training standards set by the training task force to promote quality and consistency across trainings. The committee will begin systematic use of a trainer competency tool to ensure trainers demonstrate the skills needed to train effectively. They will be supporting trainers to connect with others in similar content areas through quarterly meetings where they can share experiences and a shared resource site.

The next initiative for professional development will be the creation of a manager training program agency-wide. Right now, Aspire is in the data collection stage, with ongoing interviews of stakeholders about their experiences and expectations. If you have any ideas or feedback that you’d like to share, contact Sherry Lynn MacNeil,


Rethinking Professional Development