Coalition of Labor Union Women
  • Chicago CLUW Chapter’s First ‘Mentoring Circle’ Event is a Great Success
    Updated On: Apr 14, 2017

    Chicago mentoring circle participants

    Chicago, IL – CLUW Chicago Chapter President Katie Jordan learned about “mentoring circles” at CLUW’s National Executive Board Spring education conference. What particularly intrigued her was that in addition to providing valuable information, mentoring circles can be an effective tool to pull in members, as well as attract new ones.

    Katie went to work soon after she returned home to create a chapter mentoring circle event – which took place on the evening of Nov. 10th.

    The subject of the first circle was “What Works for Women at Work.” It began with all 25 participants viewing an 11-minute video produced by Stanford University’s Clayman Institute that identifies patterns of gender bias and teaches strategies to overcome them and succeed at work.  The group then broke into four “circles” to discuss the video.  A chapter member led each circle – using a Discussion Guide that was specially created for the topic. 

    To prepare circle leaders to facilitate the circles, Katie followed through on the Federal Mediation and Conciliation offer at the Spring meeting, that was to match CLUW chapters wanting to undertake mentoring circles with an FMCS staff person in their respective area  -- to teach circle leaders facilitation skills prior to the first circle event. FMCS Commissioner Rosa Tiscareno did just that in Chicago.

    Participants at the Nov. 10 event ate and socialized before and after the program.  They liked it so much that they are ‎planning the second mentoring circle event early in the New Year.

    Participants noted that mentoring circles would be worthwhile for other CLUW chapters, local union women’s committees, churches, youth groups and chapters of other constituency groups.

    Jeanne Cameron (Il Alliance for Retied Americans) observed, "This would be useful for IL ARA inter-generational work.”

    A few days after the event, a workshop based on the Chicago experience, was held at the CLUW Women's Leadership Skills Conference in Las Vegas.  Responses there were also enthusiastic, including the following comments:

    "Excellent workshop. Content was informative and inspirational; liked presentation and passion of presenters. Great job."  Bob Wilkerson, IFPTE

    "AFSCME International's Women's Leadership Academy has a formal mentoring program; AFSCME 13 is in the process of developing a professional mentoring program for staff and it is offering a ‘How to develop a local mentoring women's committee’ at its 2017 statewide women's conference.” Carla Insinga, AFSCME DC13, CLUW National VP

    Special note: Carolyn Jacobson,, 202.508.6901, has prepared a packet of materials for chapters (or individual members) wanting to start a mentoring circle. It includes a template flier, a draft cover memo to send with the flier to the CLC, FMCS contact information, an overview of mentoring circles, a check-list to prepare for the event and additional resources. Contact her if you want to receive this packet.

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