About

The 2020 Million Women Mentors Leaders to Learn From series showcases ‘Stories in Mentoring’, these profiles will celebrate individuals who have powerful mentoring stories to share. See below for the 2020 Leaders.

If you are still interested in the 2019 Million Women Mentors Leaders to Learn From which showcased the career paths of STEM leaders who have followed unique pathways to attain their current status you can find it here. These profiles celebrated individuals who persevere against convention and remind young people and seasoned veterans alike that there is no longer a “traditional” means to career success.

Leader Spotlight

Nikole Collins-Puri

“From an early age even when I didn’t know the word mentor, I always have looked up to my mom as a strong Black women. She is someone who has worked hard to set an example on how to succeed with little and that has been the driving force in my life; to be a part of helping to ensure success for the next generation. My sister and I were raised in a one-parent household in a little suburb of New Jersey called Three Bridges where my mother was determined to put us into a great public school system and guarantee that we had many more opportunities to have a better life than she did. Therefore, I was the only Black girl in my grade at school from elementary to twelfth and it created an interesting dynamic. Whenever I reflect back on it now, it is very clear in my mind why education is so important and why economic opportunity has been such a through-line in my career even when I didn’t know I was doing it.”

Ronda Hamm

“I’m an entomologist and informal educator. Quite a fun combination. But the story of how I got here wasn’t a linear path. As a young girl I was terrified of insects – not a good thing for an entomologist. But back then, I had no idea what entomology even was so studying insects was not on my radar. My introduction to the field came in the form of a high school internship at the University of California, Kearney Agriculture Center for the summer between my Junior and Senior year in high school. On the application, I ranked my areas of interest. And I can tell you, out of the numerous research paths I marked, entomology fell to the last option—if it even made my application at all. I received an internship and to my surprise, I was assigned to an entomology lab. What I didn’t know at that time is that this experience would change my life.”

Profiles

Susan Neely

  “At age 12, I knew I wanted to be a mother, and I knew I wanted to be a leader who was involved in big things. For the latter objective, I couldn’t envision what those specific leadership opportunities would be. However, the leadership opportunities and platforms I’ve had the privilege to be a part of are far beyond what my 12 year old self could imagine. When I graduated college, it felt like the start of one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books. I majored in French Civilization and Journalism, and I loved issues and politics, but I didn’t have a specific career path in front of me like my friends who were nurses or business majors. Quickly I decided the best solution was to take an entrepreneurial approach with my career. The best entrepreneurs are innovative, proactive people who embrace change. They have an ability to recognize new opportunities and capitalize on them and I wanted all of that for my career.”

Susan Bysiewicz

  Susan Bysiewicz was raised the proud granddaughter of immigrants who came to Connecticut from Poland and Greece with nothing but hopes for a better future. After many years of factory work, they saved enough to buy a farm in the Westfield section of Middletown that became Susan’s childhood home. Growing up and working on the farm, she and her siblings learned the values of hard work, education, and persistence. Sworn in on January 9, 2019, she is currently serving her first term as Connecticut’s 109th Lieutenant Governor.
  “At every time in my life, I have been blessed to have mentors. My public school teachers, college professors, elected officials I’ve interned with, and my colleagues in public service have guided and mentored me. In turn, as a lawyer, candidate for elected office, state representative, Secretary of the State and now as Lieutenant Governor, I have mentored many interns who’ve gone on to do great things; they have become Fulbright scholars, state representatives, teachers, lawyers, CEOs and non-profit leaders.” She knows she would not be where she is today without the mentors who have supported her journey.