Established in 2009, the Excellence in Mentoring Awards gives Iowa MENTOR certified programs the opportunity to recognize outstanding long-time youth mentors.
Individuals selected have served as a mentor a minimum of two years and exemplify both the spirit and positive benefits of mentoring. Mentors are selected based on their advocacy and leadership in mentoring, innovation, impact, commitment to their mentee, the match relationship, and the program itself.
Many recipients possess a compelling mentoring story that illustrates the Excellence in Mentoring Award is the most prestigious honor that a youth mentor in Iowa can receive.
Nominations for the Excellence in Mentoring Awards are open year-round. Nominations for 2024 awardees are due January 20, 2024.
Taylor Goetz, Shenandoah, M.A.Y. Mentoring
Taylor Goetz's involvement with M.A.Y. Mentoring goes far above and beyond the normal volunteer service expectations. She never hesitates to step up and demonstrates consistency, dependability, enthusiasm and sincere caring for the program as well as her own mentee. An accountant, Taylor started as the Finance Chair of the M.A.Y. Mentoring board, then became both a M.A.Y. mentor and an e-mentor with the program, and now serves as Board Secretary as well. Taylor has children and a busy career of her own, and yet finds time to devote her personal and professional talents as a mentor. Taylor continued to serve her mentee and the board throughout Covid.
Taylor has gone above and beyond as a mentoring advocate in many endeavors. She has initiated several innovative ideas for mentor awareness, recruitment, and fundraising. She constantly encourages others to mentor and recruits new mentors through her workplace and social network channels. Taylor just recently volunteered to do a Public Service Announcement for M.A.Y. She initiated a partnership with a local donut shop for mentor appreciation. Her skills as an accountant have been crucial for M.A.Y. Mentoring’s financial record keeping. She has served on the board's subcommittee for Strategic Planning as well as the committee for Community and Workforce Development Presentations for the past 6 years.
Taylor's mentee has felt the bond of a valued and consistent friendship throughout her relationship with Taylor. Taylor has brought a constant, reliable friendship of trust and dependability to her mentee. Her mentee looks forward to their time together and feels a part of not only Taylor's life, but her entire family's lives as well. On teacher assessments, Taylor's mentee rose 30% from the spring of 2019 to the fall of 2022. Taylor meets consistently with her mentee and provides access to her family and professional life, involving her mentee in all her service projects with M.A.Y. Mentoring. Taylor is a role model as a great mother, employee and person devoted to service.
Jessica Komisar, Marion, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids and East Central Iowa
Jessica Komisar is exactly what is needed in a mentor. She has consistently supported and advocated for her Little Sister, Leann, for 10 years in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and plans to continue until Leann graduates from high school in 2024 and beyond. Jessica has gone above and beyond what is expected of her as a mentor and a mentoring advocate.
When Jessica and Leann were initially matched, Leann was dealing with many overlapping challenges. Jessica has been there through it all, always offering an ear, support, and encouragement. Through counseling and support from Jessica and her family, Leann has been able to improve her mental health and utilize healthy coping skills.
As a mentor, Jessica has supported Leann as she explores her identity as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Jessica has always been open, accepting and inclusive of Leann and encouraged her to make connections with the community for additional support. This helped urge Leann to join the LGBTQ+ club at school. They have also engaged in the BBBS and community Pride events over the last two years. They joined the BBBS float in the pride parade and attended the Pride festival together.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters program team uses the Strength of Relationship (SOR) survey, which measures the strength of a match and allows Match Support Specialists to follow up on areas of need to ensure long, healthy mentor relationships. In Leann’s survey results over the last 10 years, she reports having 99% overall positive feelings about her match with Jessica, demonstrating the impact of the relationship.
Jessica is always willing to share about her experience and why others should join the program and become a mentor. In addition to recruiting other mentors, Jessica consistently and enthusiastically supports fundraising, including participating in our signature fundraising event, Bowl for Kids Sake with her mentee for over 10 years. She supports other mentoring matches in the community through her professional role as the Community Engagement Specialist for New Leader Manufacturing. She is passionate about making sure youth have access to resources for post-secondary planning and has initiated a number of mentee education events and discussions to explore careers in the trades and STEM fields.
LeAnn’s mom shares, “Over the last 10 years Jessica has helped LeAnn find herself as an individual, build confidence, advocate for herself, and overall blossom into the beautiful social butterfly that she is today. From day one Jessica has always accepted LeAnn and helped her navigate her way through life obstacles.”