Posts Tagged ‘Mentoring’

An Evening of Connections at Marywood University

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

An Evening of Connections at Marywood University

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari and
Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2015
All Rights Reserved

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together
is success. Henry Ford

The Challenge

On a cold February afternoon, Kitch and I drove to the campus of Marywood University to participate in a Speed Networking event.1 Sign_MUSN Planned and organized by a small group of students who are majoring in Business and Managerial Science, it was the first of its kind held at the university.

Speed Networking enables students to connect with a wide range of individuals who can best be described as success stories, role models and mentors. According to those in the know, speed networking is a convenient and quick way to make professional contacts in a relaxed setting.

My assignment was one of the most challenging opportunities I have had 2 Matt _Ann_MUSNduring our Face of America Journey. The coordinator of the event, Matthew Parkyn, needed a keynote speaker. On January 5, he sent a note with this question:

I email you today to ask you if you would like to be my guest speaker for a program that my friends and I are setting up. The program will be on Thursday, February 12th, 5:30pm-7:30pm… As the speaker you will have 20-30 minutes of talking and 10-15 minutes of Q&A. Attached is a rough draft of what the event will entail.

I accepted Matthew’s invitation, and for the next five weeks, I spent most of my time working on a presentation that would encourage,5 AM__MUSN inform, and inspire those in attendance. As I learned more about the event, it became very obvious that to be successful the presentation had to resonate with three different groups: students, teachers and business people.

With a lot of encouragement from Kitch and wonderful cooperation from friends and people we met during our journey across America, I was able to construct a presentation that was designed to give the students an insight into what it means to be successful in business and in life and what constitutes a productive mentoring experience.

First Impressions

The tone for the evening was set by a student who was parking his car when we arrived. A pleasant exchange opened the door to wonderful 1 SAbo_MUSNconversation with Abo Zahid. As we walked to the Nazareth Student Center, I was taken with his resolve and his beautiful smile. He was polite, respectful and a joy to be with. Without knowing much about his background, it was obvious to me that he is a living example of resilience.

The atmosphere inside the student center was festive and1 Registration_MUSN relaxed. The students who worked at the registration desk were pleasant. Dr. Monica Law welcomed everyone she met with a kind word and an infectious smile.

Matthew was preoccupied with many things, but he took the time to help me set up my PowerPoint presentation.

Conversations with Sister Mariam Pfiefer and Dr. Murray Pyle made us feel like we were part of the Marywood family.

3 Kitch _Ann_MUSN

Kitch had a serendipitous reunion with Ann Montoro Williams. In the 80’s, Kitch and Ann covered many of the same news stories for their respective radio stations. Today, Ann is the Director of Alumni Engagement at Marywood.

Dr. Chris Speicher visited with Kitch to update her on the activities of our mutual friend and Marywood graduate, Kirwan Ameen.

3 Kitch _Gale _Sister_MUSN

When our dear friend Dr. Gale Jaeger entered the room, she took a seat next to Sister Mariam. While Gale was a member of the Marywood faculty, she originated the Annual Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility Conference. To this day, the conference is one of the premier events sponsored by the Business and Management division of the university.

The Presentation

4 Matt__MUSN

At the appointed hour, Matthew took his place at the podium. In the tradition of Speed Networking, he made brief remarks about the members of his committee, Katie and John. He welcomed everyone, and he explained the agenda for the evening. Then, he introduced my presentation.

To set the tone for the evening, I asked the students three questions:

Why are you attending this event?

What is your purpose?

What can I do to help you?

The students who responded emphasized their desire to improve themselves. One student put it this way: “I want to become a better person.”

After this exercise, I shared two quotations:

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
Stephen R. Covey

I followed Dr. Covey’s insightful comment with a quotation from Dr. Dan Kopen, the surgeon who gave Kitch a second chance at life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When he started to practice medicine, his mother gave him this advice:

Treat every patient like they are family.

For the next 40 minutes, I followed Mrs. Kopen’s advice.

I shared a number life lessons, a summary of the essentials of mentoring and a list of suggestions for success in business and in life. Obviously, I cannot incorporate all of the material in this article, but I can tell you that the audience was engaged and receptive to the information. These are three ideas that got their attention:

Technology is a great servant, but a bad master.

There are 7 different types of mentors:


1. The wise leader (Senior Executive)
2. The life coach (HR Professional)
3. The teacher (Working with student)
4. Peer mentors (Colleague/friend)
5. The confidante (A sounding board)
6. The self help mentor (Books)
7. The inner mentor (Inner Voice)

Eliminate all or nothing thinking.

The Main Event

8 Table room__MUSN

During the networking session, Kitch and I observed students talking with business professionals and potential mentors. The atmosphere was relaxed and the participants were making the most this unique opportunity. There were 15 tables in the room, and virtually all of the seats were occupied.

9 Table 9__MUSN

At Table 9, Chris DiMattio was surrounded by Finance and Accounting majors who were interested in making contacts in the financial services industry. Chris is a Senior Vice President at FNC Bank. He is a frequent visitor to the Marywood campus. Abo Zahid was one of the students listening to Chris.

9 Table 7__MUSN

At Table 7, Ann Montoro Williams answered questions from four students as she helped them better understand how they could make the right contacts and build their network.

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The smiles on the faces of Dr. Murray Pyle and his associates made it very clear that Speed Networking is an enjoyable experience. This message is reinforced by the last picture I 11 final pict_MUSNsnapped for this article. It records the moment just before Michele and Abo left the venue.

On this cold winter evening, the upper main dining room in the Nazareth Student Center at Marywood University was filled with people who were engaged in a wonderful, student organized communal activity. In every respect, it gave truth to the words used by Marywood to attract new students:

Marywood University is about more than higher education. It is about taking your education higher.

Congratulations Matthew, Katie and John. Kitch and I enjoyed the Speed Networking experience, and we think it is fair to say so did everyone who attended the event.

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Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara: A Classic Face of America

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara: A Woman of Character, Leadership and Responsibility

Written by Tony Mussari
and Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2012
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

The uniform does not take away heart. VADM Sally Brice-O’Hara

A Woman with a Purpose

This is a story about Rear Admiral Sally Brice O’Hara, an impressive woman by any standard. She is a woman who knows something about leadership. She is a leader who knows something about compassion and service. For 38 years she has served her country in 19 different assignments in the United States Coast Guard.

Kitch and I met Sally Brice-O’Hara in 2001 at Training Center Cape May. We were there to produce a program for our series, Windsor Park Stories. It was one of the best days of our career.

Sally was the Commanding Officer of Training Center Cape May.  She was generous with her time, and every one of her associates helped us with our work. We did not know it when we arrived, but before the visit ended we received a crash course in leadership from a woman whose friendship we earned that day.

Quiet and determined by nature, Sally took us on a walking tour of the training center. It is her style to demonstrate with acts of competence, kindness and thoughtfulness rather than embellish events and experiences with words. Watching her engage with the young men and women who would spend less than two months learning the code of conduct and the practices of the U.S. Coast Guard, three things were obvious. This was a woman who loved her job. This was a woman who enjoyed all the responsibilities that came with the job. This was a woman who did her job well. 

The Admiral’s Rules

During her interview, the person who was about to become the second female Admiral in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard talked about the values that helped her earn that honor.

She identified honesty, integrity and responsibility as the most important values she learned at home from her parents and as a child growing up with a love of horses and all things equestrian.

When she entered the Coast Guard after college, she found these values to be aligned with the core values that are proudly displayed on bulkheads around the training center: Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty.

She was emphatic about one point.  Character does count.  It is the foundation that will last a lifetime, and it is essential to leading a good life.

She also stressed the importance of teamwork, and she made a very compelling point when she said, “I must live by these standards when I am in uniform and when I am on liberty.”

Over the years, Admiral Brice-O’Hara has taught these values as a leader, a mentor, a crisis manager and a friend.

During an interview with Veronique Freeman, she shared these thoughts:

Accountability is a vital component of leadership: accountability to one’s self, accountability to others, and accountability to the organization.

First, we should be true to ourselves, doing everything to the best of our ability. This
includes being humble enough to speak up and ask for advice when we need it – and to include others in the solution.

Second, we should always look after people who work for us, making sure they have everything they need to do their jobs well: the right equipment, adequate resources, clear policy and guidance, and strong TTP (Training, Techniques, and Procedures).

Third, we must strive to be the stellar Coast Guard men and women who wear the
uniform and represent the Coast Guard to the world – and to do so with very highest standards of drive, determination, success, and trustworthiness.


RADM Brice-O’Hara has very strong feelings about mentoring.  In an interview in 2009, she explained the benefits of mentoring:

My mentors contributed to my achievements with encouragement and timely advice, such as pointing me to specific things that could help expand my professional knowledge. They gave me tips on applicable courses, books and articles to read; some pushed me to seek collateral duties that would broaden my experience.

I attempt to do the same for the men and women that I mentor. Instead of focusing just on what they know, I try to open their perspectives and nudge them to things they may not have considered. Helping them understand and effectively use policies, identifying ways to take advantage of applicable tools the Service offers, or simply listening and providing a venue for venting are ways that I add value in the mentor-mentee relationship. Mentoring allows for some pretty frank conversation, which is healthy and should lead to better understanding about issues of concern.

And it works two ways, because as a mentor, generally to a more junior person, I benefit from hearing how Coast Guard policies and initiatives are received…was it as the organization intended, or were there unexpected consequences that necessitate further action by decision-makers?

…mentoring is a great way to further reinforce and embed values and principles among our fellow Guardians.

Leadership with Gratitude  

Kitch and I ended our Windsor Park Story about Sally Brice-O’Hara with this thought:

For the young men and women who join the United States Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara is an example they all should imitate. As long as there are people like Sally Brice-O’Hara in the service of America our homeland will be secure.

It was 2002, and a wonderful friendship was about to begin. During the past ten years, it has grown in many human and qualitative ways since we produced Making Waves:Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara.

Kitch and I admire her attention to detail, her high expectations and standards, her respect for the dignity of the individual, her sense of reciprocity, her loyalty to friends and family.

She is a leader who never lost her sense of roots and her ability to connect with people from all walks of life. One of her most compelling characteristics is her genuine affection and appreciation for her parents, her husband and her children. She always gave them credit for their invaluable help and life-sustaining support

Sally Brice-O’Hara is a gratitude person with a heart of gold. She cares about people, and that may be her greatest strength.

In more ways than words can describe, she is an inspirational and memorable Face of America on its best day.  Every day of her service to America was a good day for America. She brought people together.  She helped people develop their talents. She affirmed the people on her team and she looked after people in a way that enabled them to find the best edition of themselves.

Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara lived what she taught. She enabled the success of others because it is fundamental to good leadership.

Those of us who are fortunate to know her, work with her, and serve America with her are better people because of her friendship and leadership.

This month, Admiral Brice-O’Hara will retire from the Coast Guard. When she leaves her office for the last time, the words of Isaiah will apply to her leadership and her service:

She can “Go out with joy and be led forth with peace.” She never let the uniform take away her heart.

Thank you Sally for showing us the way to become better people, and better Americans.

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