Guests of honor Kate White [front, left] and Patti Austin [front, right] told stories and shared their advice with audience members. Back row: Boston Women in Media & Entertainment board members Candy O’Terry, Dayla Santurri, and Liz Brunner

As she sat cross-legged in a leopard print blouse, patterned skirt, and high-heeled ankle boots, Kate White told her audience about a time in her life when she identified less as a “fun, fearless female” and more like a rookie. Before she became editor of Cosmopolitan, a role she held for 14 years, White said she was just as insecure as the many other girls who flock to New York City in pursuit of their dreams.

“I lost a little of my nerve when I got to New York,” she said of her post-college years. “I came across… maybe faking my confidence.”

Last night, about 75 women gathered at the Westin Hotel at Copley Place to hear stories from White, a magazine editing veteran and best-selling author, and Patti Austin, a Grammy-winning entertainer and co-founder of the mentoring-based Over My Shoulder Foundation. Hosted by Boston Women in Media and Entertainment, The Story Behind Her Success was the first in a original series that gives audiences first-hand accounts of rising to the top in various fields. The organization, formed in 2012, holds networking events and actively tries to find jobs for its members, according to Co-Founder and Executive Vice President Dayla Santurri.

“We wanted two ladies who really had great stories, the good stuff and the bad stuff,” said Santurri. “They really knew how to convey them.”

Through White and Austin’s conversations with local media professionals and BWME board members Candy O’Terry and Liz Brunner respectively, the women peppered their professional advice with stories that got laughs from the audience. Austin spoke about the time she wore Crocs to accept her Grammy Award, and Kate revealed that getting Kim Kardashian to pose for a Cosmo cover was unsurprisingly easy. Over two hours, they covered topics like their breakthroughs, their challenges, balancing work and personal life, and career shifts.

White said that despite the advances women have made over the years, there are still improvements to be made.

“I do think that there are some things that women don’t know to do still,” White said after the presentation.

During Austin’s storytelling, she spoke frequently of her mentors including Quincy Jones, Dinah Washington, and Sammy Davis Jr., and emphasized how much their guidance shaped her life and career.

“You’ve got to have someone who just doesn’t care about anything but you,” she said.

In a later interview, Austin said that the United States is lagging in the mentoring mentality.

“The rest of the world gets this,” she said, pointing out that apprenticeships are common in other countries.

“They have a mentor that walks them through that. That’s just kind of a given. I think we really have to stop thinking that we’re doing each other favors to be gracious to each other.”

However, White warned attendees that working professionals aren’t always initially eager to help those starting out.

“Never ever ask someone to be your mentor,” she said. “You just have to quietly adopt them.”

During her conversation with Brunner, Austin said the best advice she ever received was from singer Patrice Moncell who explained show business in four sentences: “Who’s Patti Austin? Get me Patti Austin. Get me a young Patti Austin. Who’s Patti Austin?”

Austin added that she tries to instill this message in her music students.

“[I tell them], ‘Those of you who are doing this to become a star are going to be disappointed.’”

White gave similar advice during her presentation, noting that success often comes slowly.

After her sit-down, she spoke about her reaction to an intern who asked her how to avoid being bored at her first job.

“In the old days, they called that paying your dues. You have to know that you might have to do that,” she said.

While both women acknowledged the differences between men and women in the workplace, neither expressed a personal connection with Sheryl Sandberg’s buzzed-about book, Lean In.

“If you lean in too far, you get your head cut off,” Austin joked after the presentation. “You gotta lean in and lean out. It’s like choreography. It’s the choreography of life.”

White said that while she respects the book and thinks that women are inspired by it, she sees the workplace differently.

“The movement seems a little earnest for my taste because [to me], a lot of the work world involves being a little scrappy and getting down and dirty sometimes,” she said.

After the event, Austin said she was happy she saw diversity in the audience.

“What I really loved seeing was that the demographic was really [varied],” she said, emphasizing the range of ages present.

Santurri said that White and Austin were the perfect picks for the kick-off event of the Story Behind Her Success.

“We wanted two people who were pros but also could articulate so women from 18 to 72 could understand,” she said. “I thought it was absolutely fantastic. People had a connection to what they were talking about.”

Austin added that being able to mentor and share her stories makes her a better person.

“Whenever you have that opportunity – and it is an opportunity,” she said, “you grow.”



Dr. David Dubois will speak at the conference.

Embracing the art of mentoring ourselves, the Over My Shoulder Foundation would like to make you aware of an exciting upcoming event: the 14th Annual Mentoring Conference. This annual mentoring conference will take place on Thursday, April 18th and Friday, April 19th at the Oracle Conference Center in Santa Clara.

While many people believe that mentoring is an effective way to positively impact the younger generations in our communities, few have what it takes to be consistent with sustaining these efforts. For this reason, this year’s conference theme is Making the Most of Mentoring, and it will focus on addressing strategies and teaching skills to help build successful mentoring relationships.

Conference participants should leave the event with valuable information and knowledge to implement into their new or existing mentoring programs. Attendees will benefit from hearing guest speakers David DuBois, Ph.D., and Michael Karcher, Ed.D, Ph.D., talk about the value of mentoring. In addition, participants can take part in 10 pre-conference courses on Thursday and 15 short workshops on Friday to dig deeper into the subject. To learn more about this exciting mentoring conference brought to you by Friends For Youth, please visit the website for additional details.

If you’re unable to attend the annual mentoring conference, the Over My Shoulder Foundation offers a number of events throughout the year to raise the awareness of the positive impact that mentoring can have both cross-culturally and cross-generationally. Please be sure to “like” our Facebook page to stay up-to-date with our upcoming events.

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[box]Today’s mentoring story is brought to you by one of the best thinkers in the world’s educational scene, Professor Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow. Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow is a Pushcart Prize Nominated author and award-winning educator and broadcaster. She is Founding General Manager of WYCC-TV/PBS and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Wright College in Chicago.

Elynne’s performances of her stories have been broadcast on The Bob Edwards Show on NPR and Rick Kogan’s Sunday Papers on WGN radio. Elynne has performed in NYC at the Museum of Motherhood and throughout Chicago including the Printer’s Row Lit Fest. Her work has been part of the production “Dear Mother” in L.A. at The Lyric Theater. Her adult storyteller program IN HER OWN VOICE is renowned. Her memoirs, stories and essays have been published in numerous anthologies including Thin Threads (Kiwi Publishing), Chicken Soup for the Soul (Simon & Schuster Distributor), This I Believe: On Love (Wiley Publishing), Forever Travels (Mandinam Press), Press Pause Moments (Clarion Award) (Kiwi Publishing), My Dad Is My Hero (Adams Media) and various magazines including the international Jerusalem Post.

The Mentorology cycle is made SO evident by Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, an expert in human connection.

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director[/box]


I believe mentoring to be the hope of the human condition. This is my story.

Switching Careers to Start Work One-On-One

In January 1994, I left the role of founding General Manager of WYCC-TV, a PBS affiliate in Chicago, and joined the faculty of Wright College as Assistant Professor of Communication. I was 49 years old and changing careers. As always I had my husband’s invaluable support.

Finding a New Professional Home

The Chairperson of the Speech Department of which I was now a member gave me the choice of two offices from which to choose. The end office was smaller than the others. It had a slanted wall that reminded me of Emily Dickinson’s attic in which she would write and create her works. That thought sold me on Office L331 which became my professional home.

Setting Up Shop

The first thing I did was to hang my television and community service plaques and awards. Next I positioned the picture of my staff at the station that had been given to me as a gift. I put my teaching supplies in my desk drawer. School supplies! Whether as a student or a teacher they thrilled me. They were my earliest memories of school, of the beginning of each semester, of newness and anticipation. They were treasures.

One of my colleagues stopped by to welcome me. “I see you have already nested,” she said smiling.

I looked at the remaining spaces on the walls of my new office. I was returning to the classroom after being away for many years. Did I still have the ability to connect with students the way I had always done? Could I still create the magic I had experienced in the classroom? Would I ever receive anything from my future students or from my academic work that I could proudly hang in those spaces?

I Have Arrived

January 2007. I am a Full Professor. I have been named the 2007 Distinguished Service Professor of Wright College. My office walls are filled with academic awards and honors, certificates of acknowledgement and gifts from my students.

The memories that I cherish most in this Emily Dickinson like attic room are those that cannot be seen. The faces of the students who have visited me, the stories that students have shared with me, the work students have shown me. In my 13 years at Wright, I have taught and mentored students. I have a deep respect for the community college student who does it all at once. School, work, family… all at the same time.

The Stories of My Students

Some of the stories I have heard in this office are unforgettable. The young man with MS who struggled to overcome his fear of performance and his inability to speak clearly due to his illness. The English as a Second Language students who came to a new country, a new city and struggled to do Public Speaking in English, a foreign language to them. The single mothers and fathers who were trying desperately to arrange for affordable child care so that they could attend class. The endless stories of grandmothers who died each time an assignment was due or an exam missed. The student who looked and sounded exactly like Travolta’s character Tony in “Saturday Night Fever” and who told me that he was in college on a bet. The female students who were in doomed marriages and who were seeking another way to live their lives and to support themselves. The Muslim student who was afraid for her own personal safety after September 11th. The Caucasian male who could not understand why the family of his Hispanic girlfriend would not accept him. The student who cut herself whenever she faced pressure. Student after student afraid to speak before an audience. Students who were lonely. Students who ended relationships. Students who came back to tell me that they had completed Medical School, Law School, Graduate School. Students who got the job they wanted, the promotion they hoped for, the first apartment of their own.

I sit in my office, in the privacy of this cherished space remembering. I remember their voices, their smiles, their tears. They have been not only my work but also my family. To them I am devoted. My walls tell the story of my career. My heart holds the meaning of my career. The family of students whom I have taught will always belong to me and I to them.

Elynne’s student Will, whom she wrote about in “The Hat”.

From Student to Mentee, a Mentorology Cycle

It has meant so much to sustain friendships with several of my students. Mentoring is a lifelong process. As a New Year’s gift, I decided to e-mail each of them a copy of my essay “Life 101” published in the anthology Forever Friends ( Many readers and audiences have experienced this essay, but the ones who will be touched most deeply are the students whom I have taught. They are my garden. Although I am no longer in the classroom, I have the unique opportunity to see their growth and fruition and to continue my hope of inspiring their lives and dreams.

My Student’s Words of Appreciation, A Gift as Good as Gold

Some of the responses I received from my students…

Hello Professor,
Thank you for sharing your wisdom. This is one of the finest gifts anyone has given me. I really appreciate and love you for giving hope in life. ~N

Dear Professor Chaplik-Aleskow, That was quite the gift indeed! I will apply these words to my own journeys in life as my creativity awakens again! And to let you know, I am well into 3 new writing projects already! I thank you for helping me find a reason to believe in myself again! I hope the New Year has been wonderful for you thus far! For the first time in a long time, it surely has been for me! Your student and friend, ~W

Dearest Elynne, my friend, Thank you for the reminder on how to live life. You taught me these same lessons as my Speech teacher at Wright and they, as well as your friendship, are part of who I am today. Is the anthology out already? I would love to buy the book and pass this lesson on to my students. ~C

My Garden of Students

While some people cherish their roses and tulips, I have a prize-winning garden of students. Each is unique and beautiful. I have been given the gift of mentoring them and of experiencing their potential and humanity. I believe mentoring to be the hope of the human condition.

If you liked this story, you can follow the author’s continuing work at Professor Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow’s website.

[box]If you like Over My Shoulder Foundation, please SHARE your mentoring stories, consider donating to our non-profit and don’t forget to follow Over My Shoulder Foundation on Facebook too.[/box]


If you ask successful people what they attribute most to their career growth, many of them will tie their accomplishments back to having strong mentors along the way. The same could be said for Sheryl Sandberg, the current COO of Facebook. Throughout her professional career, she played a hand in the IPOs for both Facebook and Google, and served as the chief of staff for the United States Department of Treasury. She was recently named the fifth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg contributes much of her success to strong mentoring relationships

When it comes to mentors in the business world, Sheryl Sandberg mentions in this CBS News piece that we often think of a man-to-man mentoring relationship versus one that is comprised of a man and woman. She shares that it’s natural for two men to share a beer and have this type of camaraderie in a hotel lobby while traveling for business, but may send out the wrong signals if a man and woman were to have a drink in the same environment. For this reason, she explains the importance of more senior and tenured professional women taking on younger women as mentees to help guide them along the way in their careers.

Just like Sheryl Sandberg, Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll attribute much of their success to the strong mentoring relationships that they have developed throughout their careers. Wanting to spread the word on the power of “Mentorology,” they founded the Over My Shoulder Foundation. The goal of this non-profit organization is to raise the awareness of what a positive impact mentoring can have across generations and cultures.

For more information about the Over My Shoulder Foundation and our mission, please contact us today!


Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Financial Times


Grammy Award-winning singer Patti Austin is set to teach at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, serving as the school’s artist-in-residence for its Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance program.

Los Angeles, CA, USA – March 18th, 2013

Patti Austin is set to teach at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music as the school’s artist-in-residence for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance program this fall. The program, named after the late jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, is a two-year graduate level full-scholarship program which allows an ensemble of gifted young jazz musicians to study under the tutelage of visiting performance artists.

Patti Austin is best known for her jazz performances and R&B hits such as In My Life, If I Believed and her duets with James Ingram, Baby Come to Me and How Do You Keep the Music Playing. But her most important contribution to the music industry may just prove to be her efforts in mentoring other artists through the non-profit Over My Shoulder Foundation — an organization that aims to break down barriers between generations and cultures to allow for self-empowerment and the transference of knowledge across the disciplines of music and design—a method which the foundation aptly calls Mentorology.

Patti co-founded the Over My Shoulder Foundation with close friend, songwriter and stone designer Dawn Carroll, a testament to their growing passion for Mentorology or the art and science of mentoring people who need a helping hand to achieve their dreams. Patti articulates the role mentoring played in her personal and professional life, first by her parents and most notably the close guidance of her godparents, Grammy multi-award winner Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington.

“For me, music is the strongest door opener to the hearts and minds of the people. I want to use recorded music, videos, concerts and social networking as the ‘stimulus package’ to re-energize the focus on forward thinking approaches to education as the key factor in eradicating poverty for the coming generation,” said Patti. “Learning should never stop for all age groups. We can empower millions to realize the opportunity to help shape a new society of creative ‘mentorologists’ in all areas of life.”

Through the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance program, a two-year graduate level scholarship program led by jazz artists Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, Austin will be able to share her expertise which transcends every musical genre. Sitting down with the students from April 1-3, she will listen to the students play and discuss technical issues such as sound, time, articulation, along with the nuts-and-bolts of their improvisation.

Patti’s mentees are all praise about her. “I’m beginning to live my anticipated dream and I look back on my young life and know that without the mentorship of Patti Austin my fire could have gone out,” remarked Santana Roberts. “Alongside my mom, I want to thank Ms. Austin for being my source of inspiration and continuing to believe in me.”

About Patti Austin
Grammy winner Patti Austin crosses all musical genres, has made 17 solo albums, and has performed her award-nominated hit songs on the GRAMMYS® and the Oscars. As a performer, songwriter and vocalist she has had a star-studded career that began at the age of four, making her one of the most beloved artists the world over and a mainstay on the Billboard Jazz Albums charts. Patti’s extraordinary career continues to cross over boundaries and reach new heights. More information about Patti Austin can be seen on her official website,

About Over My Shoulder Foundation
The Over My Shoulder Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll to promote mentoring and Mentorology through music and design. OMSF hails Mentorology, the art and science of mentoring, as the number-one priority as they move forward producing live events which bring together industry leaders in order to pay tribute to great mentors and put the spotlight on the importance of mentoring. OMSF started with a song called “Over My Shoulder,” with lyrics written by Dawn as a duet performed by legendary Patti Austin and one of her mentees, Lianna Gutierrez.

Visit for more information.

Contact Info
Name: Barry Orms




Rosemary Porto, a well-respected interior designer at Poggenpohl Boston, attributes the many successes that she has experienced throughout her career to the mentoring relationships that she has developed along the way. Working for a company that has embraced the power of mentorship for the past 100 years, Rosemary discusses how these relationships have impacted her life and the way that she approaches her profession as an interior designer:


Patti Austin, Dawn Carroll, and Rosemary Porto believe in the power of mentorship. Let them show you how it can help your career.

1. Who was your mentor?

I had two mentors in my early career. Each one gave me gifts of knowledge that I treasure today. Jean Wentz was my first mentor when I was in my early 20s. Her taste was impeccable. By watching her shop and specify, my taste level was elevated. Henry Bogdan was my second mentor in my mid-to-late 20s. Henry guided my behavior as I became successful. His best advice which has kept me humble all these years was: “Rosie, don’t believe your own BS.” Thanks to Jean and Henry, now long deceased, I have navigated 40 years in the business world with a clear perspective on myself and my talent.

2. You work for a company that is generations old. How does your company mentor and pass along the 100-year-old mission?


Poggenpohl is devoted to mentoring. In our factory in Herford, Germany, there is an apprentice school where 20 students spend three years learning cabinetmaking from the master cabinetmakers. When the students graduate, the best ones are invited to join the company.

3. When you design for clients, you are mentoring their spaces. What is your favorite space you created for a client?

This is a tough one to answer. I have had so many wonderful clients over the last 10+ years at Poggenpohl that it is hard to pick just one. I guess if I have to pick one, it is the kitchen I designed in Colchester, VT, where we took down walls and opened the kitchen to view Lake Champlain. Now the space is filled with natural light, and it felt like the room could breathe deeply. My clients cook every day together with the girls learning from their mother. Recently, the Girl Scout group made cookies for the troops in the kitchen. It’s my favorite because it is used and loved everyday by a wonderful family.

4. What mentoring advice do you have for young designers?

I advise to be present and open to everything your mentor does and says. The learning in the field to design, sell and grow comes from focused observation. I advise to soak up the experience with an open heart and mind. That is when the learning happens.

5. What does mentoring mean to you?

To teach is to learn twice — wisdom from a fortune cookie. Really! I learn what I know by sharing it with my intern. Her youthful enthusiasm recharges my battery. It is a true give-and-take as we grow together.

Much like Rosemary Porto, Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll have also experienced much success in their careers due to the strong mentoring relationships that they have built throughout the years. Understanding how these relationships have impacted their lives, they established the Over My Shoulder Foundation in an effort to raise the awareness of how mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally can result in positive outcomes for all involved parties. Through entertainment-driven products and events, this non-profit organization spreads the word on the art of mentoring, or “Mentorology” as the foundation prefers.

Have you benefited from a strong mentoring relationship in your life? If so, we’d like to hear from you! Share your story with us on our Over My Should Foundation Facebook page, and be sure to “like” us, too!


Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) Founders Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll will be recognized this year for their service in the design community at the New England ASID 2013 Excellence in Design Award gala at the end of March.

patti-austin-dawn-carroll-of-OMSF Boston, MA, USA – March 4th, 2013

This coming March 21, 2013, Patti Austin (a Grammy Award-winning singer / songwriter and Design Mentee) and Dawn Carroll (an Award-winning stone designer at Cumar, Inc.) will take center-stage for their achievements in bringing mentoring to the forefront of thought in the New England design industry. The event will take place at the Mandarin Oriental, Back Bay, Boston, MA.

The ASID New England Chapter 2013 GALA “Celebrating Excellence in Design” celebrates interior designers, educators and industry professionals who are outstanding leaders and innovators in the design community. As such, with the fact that OMSF has launch major events such as “Designing the Next Generation”, it was only a matter of time that they would be recognized for their contribution in the design community.

The event is expected to be an inspirational evening celebrating and inspiring design professionals to join the OMSF mentoring mission called “Designing the Next Generation” a series of awards created by OMSF and Cumar Marble & Granite that celebrate those who share their time, expertise, and wisdom with upcoming generations of designers. With this ASID recognition for the community service Patti and Dawn have achieved through OMSF, Dawn is further energized to guide her OMSF Co-Founder Patti Austin in the beginnings of her blossoming career as an interior designer.

“For my ‘real job’, I am a stone designer at Cumar Marble & Granite. Our company is currently in its 8th generation of leadership in stone sourcing and fabrication in Everett, MA. Without mentoring and apprenticeships, the work that we do would not be possible. It is because of both my jobs, Cumar and OMSF, that I am so very excited to announce that both Patti Austin and I are being recognized this year for our service in the design community at the New England ASID 2013 Excellence in Design Award ceremonies” Dawn Carroll comments.

ASID New England President Mary Beth Haggerty commends their time and effort spent into making “Mentorology” a legitimate art and skill, “I know they have poured their heart and soul into mentoring”.

About Patti Austin:
Grammy winner Patti Austin crosses all musical genres, has made 17 solo albums, and has performed her award-nominated hit songs on the GRAMMYS® and the Oscars. As a performer, songwriter and vocalist she has had a star-studded career that began at the age of four, making her one of the most beloved artists the world over and a mainstay on the Billboard Jazz Albums charts. Patti’s extraordinary career continues to cross over boundaries and reach new heights.

About Dawn Carroll:
Dawn Carroll, an Award winning designer at Cumar Marble & Granite, has been consulting on stone design and fabrication for New England’s most prestigious properties for 15 years. Dawn is considered one of the industry’s most highly regarded stone consultants and is the Executive Director, Co-Founder of Over My Shoulder Foundation. Dawn’s vision was to musically weave together her message: that without support and emotional sustenance we can become lost, disconnected, and unstable-as individuals and as a society. As Dawn states, “The dream behind the OMSF is to celebrate, nominate, and reward mentors and mentees: a new cadre of creative talent which will have the leadership skills to amend many of our social and economic crises.”

About Over My Shoulder Foundation:
The Over My Shoulder Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll to promote mentoring and Mentorology through music and design. OMSF hails Mentorology, the art and science of mentoring, as the number-one priority as they move forward producing live events which bring together industry leaders in order to pay tribute to great mentors and put the spotlight on the importance of mentoring. OMSF started with a song called “Over My Shoulder,” with lyrics written by Dawn as a duet performed by legendary Patti Austin and one of her mentees, Lianna Gutierrez.

Visit for more information.

Contact Info
Name: Barry Orms
Organization: Patti Austin Enterprises




Let Patti prove what mentoring can do for you!

Even while having a successful career as an entertainer, Patti Austin, co-founder of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, reveals that her first love was interior design. An avid believer in the power of mentorship, Patti discusses her first mentor in the design world – her mother. “My earliest design mentor was my stunning mother, Edna. Edna would wait until my father left for his night job, then she would re-arrange the house. Frequently! It was hilarious hearing my father come home early in the morning after his shift was done and bump into a newly designed furniture layout. My dad got used to it because my mother was constantly ‘rejuvenating her nest.’

It’s a habit Patti picked up.  “Design has been a part of my life forever. Music and design are akin to one another. You compose a room just like you compose music; you arrange. I am always creating interesting and effective ‘nests.’ When I was a child, we lived on a very frugal budget, and my parents often would take on more work by cleaning the opulent homes in Fire Island, New York. At 4 years old, I thought these were our homes and I developed a lifelong appreciation for exquisite spaces and objects.

I admit that upon first glance, few places ever get it right for me. One of the first things I do to my space is “Patti-ize” the room. I’ll even do it in a hotel, move the chair a bit to the left, place the lamp where it feels right to me. So, I guess I can say I have arranged thousands of spaces. And I’ve got my personal mentor, my mom, to thank for that.”

To learn more about Patti Austin and the mission of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, please contact us today!



The event will take place at One Financial Center.

For the past ten years, Root Causes’s Social Innovation Forum has been recognizing results-oriented non-profit organizations that are dedicated to effectively solving social problems faced today., a Boston-based non-profit organization, has been selected as one of the five 2013 Social Innovators and will be awarded over $115,000 in cash and resources from Root Cause and its partners over the next 18 months. The mission for is promote education, economic opportunity, and self-sufficiency for women and girls living in Boston.

The Social Innovation Forum will host a series of events throughout the month of March to help us all think more broadly about the fields that we work in and ways that we can add value to others. will be featured at an event that focuses its discussion on women and girls on Thursday, March 21st, from 8:30 am to 10:00 am at Brown Rudnick, One Financial Center in downtown Boston.

The event at Brown Rudnick will be a precursor for the Social Innovator Showcase, which will take place on Thursday, May 9th, at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge. At the Social Innovator Showcase, will be introduced to over 300 leaders from the business, government, and philanthropic sectors of Boston to share its unique mission and ways that it has helped to provide new opportunities and better lives for young women living in Boston.

The Over My Shoulder Foundation is another Boston-based non-profit organization that also uses a unique approach to mentoring. By focusing on “Designing the Next Generation“, the Over My Shoulder Foundation shows how powerful the art of mentoring can be, most specifically in the world of interior design. For more information about our organization and how you can become a part of this cause, please contact us today!

Image Source:  colemanpetersparker



Sofia Vergara is just one celebrity who has made the transition.

When Grammy Award winner Patti Austin made the decision to pursue her dream as an interior designer, songwriter and designer Dawn Carroll mentored her to make this dream become a reality. This successful mentor/mentee relationship helped to inspire the two women to establish the Over My Shoulder Foundation, which aims to raise the awareness of the positive impact that mentoring can have both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.

Patti Austin is not the first entertainer to cross over to the world of interior design. Listed below are several other celebrity interior designers that have successfully made this transition:

  • Justin Timberlake: First a singer, then an actor, and now a designer, Justin Timberlake is a co-curator for HomeMint, which offers high-end home furnishings, decor, and art.
  • P. Diddy: In addition to his music and acting career, P. Diddy also has his own clothing line and home collection known as Sean John.
  • Cindy Crawford: Aside from being one of the world’s most recognized supermodels, Cindy Crawford has her own home decor line called Cindy Crawford Style.
  • Sofia Vergara: This actress has not only come into her own in her role on Modern Family, but recently launched an affordable home furnishing line for the bedroom and bathroom called Sofia by Sofia Vergara.
  • Lenny Kravitz: This rock star has also created his own upscale home design collection called Kravitz Design, which includes custom-made furniture, crystal lighting fixtures, and bold wallpaper designs.
  • Brad Pitt: This actor turned his passion for design into a partnership with furniture maker Frank Pollaro to offer high-quality inventive designs.

Who are some of your favorite celebrity interior designers that have had successful careers in a variety of industries? Do you think the benefited from a mentor relationship while they made this transition?


[box]Today’s amazing mentoring story is written by our Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) resident poet, Marissa Ranahan. Marissa sheds some light on the anti-bullying work being done by an 11-year-old named Elayna Hasty. Young minds do great things, and it is part of the work we do at OMSF to help YOU to start thinking about those first glimmers of brilliance in your own career – and recognizing them in young minds waiting for mentors. Waiting for someone to watch over their shoulder.

You can see sparks from such a young age. From Elayna’s passion for spreading the anti-bullying message to 7-year-old Carly Connor’s expertly executed interview with American Idol singer Ayla Brown, Over My Shoulder Foundation is rooting for them – for mentors. If you don’t take our word for it, take the word of Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. In a promo for “The Fashion Fund” (a new mentor-centric TV show) she says, “I love seeing people at the beginning of their careers. It is then when they have their first spark.”

Let Elayna’s spark ignite your inspiration for mentoring and don’t wait to make Mentorology (the art and science of mentoring) a part of YOUR life today.

Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director[/box]

11 Year Old Elayna Hasty, GAB Girls Founder

“Stand up for what is right, even if you’re standing alone because it just takes one to make a positive difference.”

– Elayna Hasty

The “GAB” Girls Inspiration- A Young Girl’s Fight Against Bullying in the 21st Century by Marissa Ranahan

“Bullying has turned into a battleground of intolerance, and I want girls to know that anything that they set their minds to can happen” explained Elayna Hasty, the founder of the website and organization “GAB” Girls.

“GAB” Girls, or “Girls Against Bullying Girls” is a website entirely dedicated to helping girls overcome the countries’ bullying epidemic. The website displays accounts of girls who have been bullied and their progression towards self-confidence. GAB Girls features tips for parents and girls who are struggling with bullying. The website’s guest book features words of praise from girls and parents all over the world.

Elayna Hasty’s GAB Girls Website

It All Started as a Young Idea…

What started as an idea has become a safe haven for an increased number of young women. The comments are united with the love of Elayna’s positive message; it is possible to overcome bullying. The kicker? For developing this touching movement, Elayna Hasty hasn’t even reached middle school.

At the tender age of eleven, Elayna’s intellectual personality shines brighter than her visibly beautiful looks. For a competitive cheerleader and avid church volunteer, Elayna has a mature head resting on her shoulders. In the future, Elayna aspires to be a veterinarian or pediatrician. Elayna’s drive for helping others shows in her future aspirations. However, inside this bright and bubbly personality, Elayna has her own personal inspiration behind the development of GAB Girls.

“It all started when I was in the first grade.” Elayna began to recall. “I walked into the room and one of the girls was just standing there and mocking me. I was thinking to myself, what in the world is going on? I finally took a stand and said knock it off, but it didn’t really quite work.”

The next day Elayna bravely approached her mother, Laura Leese, to tell her what was going on. “My mom and I agreed it was bullying. So then I got the idea to help other girls, and maybe also help myself.”

Elayna’s Anti-Bullying Inspirations

In addition to her own bullying experience at school, Elayna’s other inspiration stemmed from a close friend who was being bullied. In terms of comparison, Elayna’s friend’s case was very different. Elayna realized her friends bullying was becoming increasingly severe. “My friend was bullied to the point where she had to be taken out of school and become homeschooled. I never understood why they bullied her.”

Elayna also witnessed cyber bullying in her own fifth grade classroom. A fellow classmate was writing mean emails to her friends, as Elayna describes; “She was calling her stupid, I tried to tell an adult, but my friend was too scared.” Elayna agrees it is always important to tell an adult when you are being bullied. “They think telling an adult will make it worse, but it will actually make it better. Just try to stay confident even if you’re scared.”

Through her inspirations, Elayna has reached out to Facebook where users can virtually “Like” her GAB Girls page. The GAB Girls Facebook page features positive quotes and inspiration for young women and adults. The page has acquired likes from different people around the world. The positive statuses are something for girls to look forward to when they open up their news feed, as a reminder that they do not fight their bullying battle alone.

The Growth of GAB (Girls Against Bullying) Girls

As the comments and likes continue to progress, Elayna has become increasingly proud of her GAB Girls accomplishments. The pride comes from every comment or like that she acquires on her page. Every comment she acquires makes her beam with pride. Right before her eyes, she is witnessing a generation being touched by her message.

What Elayna Wants YOU to Know about Bullying

“Bullying is a real problem but it has very real solutions. Sometimes girls feel down and not always confident in themselves. I want girls to know they are uniquely beautiful both on the inside and out” she says.

Bravo, Elayna.

Don’t forget to visit the GAB Girls website!

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Come hear their mentoring ideas at the conference!



The 2013 Design Bloggers Conference will take place March 3-5 at the Hilton Los Angeles in Universal City, California. This highly anticipated event is the premier new media conference for the interior design industry and will focus on the numerous benefits and opportunities that interior designers can gain from blogging, social media, and more.

The Over My Shoulder Foundation‘s own Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll will be featured as guest speakers at this conference, sharing their mission of Designing the Next Generation through the power of mentorship. Just like a designer sees the possibilities of an empty room, a mentor can help bring out a mentee’s full potential. Designing a space that mirrors yourself can help you to grow into the person that you want to become.

In this way, interior design can function as a mentor of its own. The two women will share their own personal mentoring success story as Patti enlisted the help of Dawn to help guide her in achieving her dream of becoming an interior designer. To learn more about the Over My Shoulder Foundation and the concept of Mentorology, please visit our website or browse through our blog.

In addition to the all-star lineup of guest speakers, conference attendees will have the opportunity to learn about a variety of related topics to assist with their content marketing strategies, from using Houzz and Instagram to promote your brand to creating inspirational content.

Are you planning on attending the Design Bloggers Conference? If so, which topics are you most excited to learn about?