Panelists Brenda Jimenez, director of operations and growth strategies, Mentor New York; Chotsani Williams West, director of student mentoring, Adelphi University; Dr. Rhonda L. Ward, associate professor of social work and director of the Ostapenko Center at Niagara University; and Niagara University juniors Taylor Lilton and Amanda Ventrella, BELLE mentors, discuss ways mentoring can help young people thrive in college.

Members of the local community discussed the importance of mentoring during the 2019 Mentoring Matters Western New York conference, Friday, April 12, at the Russell J. Salvatore Dining Commons on the Niagara University campus.

New York State Lt. Gov. Kathleen Hochul gave the keynote address during the daylong event, which included a panel session and workshops on topics concerning youth in Western New York and around the nation.

During her presentation, Lt. Gov. Hochul recalled the importance of serving as a mentor and the role mentoring played in her life. She also explained how mentoring has become a cornerstone of the governor's office.

Following Lt. Gov. Hochul’s presentation, attendees participated in a panel discussion on ways mentoring can prepare college-bound high school students to adjust, adapt, and remain in college to earn their degrees.

Workshops led by experts in the areas of mentoring and youth development tackled topics including building culturally responsive programs; leveraging the research on the power of relationships; performance metrics; building organizational sustainability; and addressing the needs of LGBTQQ+ young people and of immigrant and refugee youth.

Mentoring Matters was presented by KeyBank in partnership with First Niagara Foundation, Mentor New York, and Niagara University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.

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