Ahna Kielar, Boston Partners’ 2017-18 AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring

A Year Full of Encouragement, Authenticity, and Commitment to Equality

By Ahna Kielar

As an Americorps Ambassador of Mentoring through the Highland Street Foundation, my role was to build capacity at a youth-serving, mentoring organization this year. Apart from that, Americorps members don’t really know what their day-to-day experience at their host site will be like.

I was lucky enough to join the team at Boston Partners in Education, where I was truly integrated as a vital part of the work they do to provide a way for community members to mentor students in the Boston Public Schools. My main focus was recruitment and community engagement. This role left lots of room for me to be innovative, from hosting an open mic night around the theme of mentoring, to working on diversifying our community partnerships. I also had the chance to dip my toes in database utilization as we got creative with how to record all of our outreach efforts.

While the numbers — from new volunteer recruits to attendees at our volunteer socials — are a satisfying way to quantify all that our team has accomplished this past year, they don’t reflect my holistic experience.

I have built confidence in my work style and public speaking ability. I’ve learned how to bring people into my process, to get new ideas and feedback long before the final product. I’ve gained event coordination experience. I’ve learned so much about partnership development. I’ve gathered a more in-depth understanding of how non-profits run. These are all skills that will serve me well as I continue to work in the nonprofit sector.

But it is the intangible skills that will serve me in life. Skills like building an authentic sense of team. From week one, where each of my new colleagues took time to walk around the Seaport or get coffee with me, it was clear Boston Partners has created a team environment. They have shown me how important it is to stay connected to the mission through direct service. Nearly all of my coworkers make time to volunteer as academic mentors in the Boston Public Schools. This keeps them connected to the heart of what they do — supporting the academic and personal growth of students. I’ve learned just how important, and rewarding, it is to get to know the communities with whom you are partnering. I’ve had the joy of continuing to cultivate the ability to actively listen and learn from every single conversation.

There is much more I could say about my year of service with this incredible organization. But I will sum it up with this:

The people you surround yourself with are the air you breathe. Here at Boston Partners, the air is refreshing — full of encouragement, authenticity, and commitment to equality.