WMU News

Mentors from around the world meet this week

March 26, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Topics ranging from traditional community mentoring to cyber mentoring will draw mentors from around the world to Washington, D.C., for the 14th Annual Diversity in Mentoring Conference Thursday through Saturday, March 29-31, at the Marriott at Metro Center Hotel.

The conference is expected to attract some 300 people for one-day institutes, in-depth workshops and more than 50 concurrent informational sessions. Co-sponsored by the International Mentoring Association and Western Michigan University, the event provides a forum for mentoring ideas, research and practice in fields as diverse as education, business, government, health care and human services.

The theme for 2001 is "Mentoring for the Millennium," says Dr. Martha B. Warfield, director of WMU's Division of Multicultural Affairs and one of the conference organizers.

"We chose this theme because mentoring is a valuable tool that public, private and community-based organizations can use as they meet the challenges of our increasingly global society."

The two featured speakers for this year's event will be Crystal A. Kuykendall, who will speak on "Bringing Out the Best in All Mentees," and Donald Gray, who will speak on "The Often Forgotten Portion of Mentoring." Kuykendall will give the opening keynote address at 8:30 a.m. Friday, March 30, while Gray will present his talk at the conference luncheon on that day.

Kuykendall has been president and general counsel of her own firm, Kreative and Innovative Resources for Kids Inc., since 1989. She is a former school teacher and university instructor and has served as executive director of the National Alliance of Black School Educators as well as director of urban and minority relations for the National School Boards Association and of the Citizens Training Institute of the National Committee for Citizens in Education.

"Crystal Kuykendall is truly a gifted and gracious public speaker--audiences love her high energy, charm, charismatic delivery and moving messages," Warfield says.

"She has spoken on four continents and is considered by many to be one of the most powerful, dynamic and inspiring speakers in the world. Her speeches reflect her own unique background and are replete with professional responsibilities and personal victories. As a result, her audiences laugh, cry and experience an incredible array of emotions as she weaves her magic."

In addition to a law degree, Kuykendall has a doctoral degree in educational administration. She has written four books, including the highly acclaimed "From Rage to Hope," and continues to be an active mentor and community volunteer.

Gray is president and chief executive officer of Automotive Youth Educational Systems Inc. He oversees the expansion and quality implementation of AYES, which is the retail automotive industry's premier effort to develop school-to-career partnerships between selected schools and participating dealerships.

After earning a degree in automotive technology, Gray joined the General Motors Corp. in 1971. He held a variety of positions with GM's Chevrolet division, all of them related to the promotion of quality automotive service.

Those previous assignments included manager of sales/service standards and operating systems. While in this position, Gray was responsible for developing Chevrolet's Service Operating System, which became the model for the operating system now shared by all GM divisions.

Gray's career took a different turn in 1995, when the executive was tapped to develop and launch the GM pilot program that has since evolved into AYES.

The first of a kind initiative brings together automotive manufacturers, local dealers and high school and vocational schools. Through such nationwide partnerships, the organization seeks to attract more talented young people to the retail automotive industry as well as to serve as a catalyst for developing school-to-career automotive educational programs that provide qualified entry-level technicians and other service personnel for auto dealerships.

"The mentoring process is what elevates Automotive YES from other automotive technical training programs," Gray has said. "It is also the portion of our strategy that is having the most dramatic impact on our students."

The International Mentoring Association is housed at WMU and focuses on teaching and promoting effective mentoring procedures and strategies. Established in 1988, it unites a broad cross-section of individuals who support and promote planned mentoring.

For more information about the conference or to register, contact WMU's Conferences and Seminars by phone at (616) 387-4174 or by fax at (616) 387-4189.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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