World AIDS Day, December 1st, was established in 1988 to fight against, show support, and commemorate people who have died of HIV. The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year in spreading awareness and supporting the prevention of HIV. The Foundation seeks to continue to break the transmission cycle as well as raise money to provide care for those affected. Significant progress has been made in the prevention of AIDS however still today, 37 million people worldwide live with HIV, and HIV/AIDs continues to be the second leading cause of death for teens across the world.  Also, AIDs-related deaths in young people ages 10-19 have tripled since 2000.  Elizabeth Taylor provides an excellent example of what it means to make an impact and be a mentor, as she continues to do so through her foundation and her dedication to raising funds to prevent this pandemic from growing in 2016. If you have time, check out her amazing mentoring story here. Also, we recommend reading Firooz Zahedi’s book, My Elizabeth.

Photo Credits to Firooz Zahedi

#WorldAIDSDay #ElizabethTaylor #AIDS #ETAF #PattiAustin #DawnCarroll #Firoozzahedi #BookSoup

Thinking About Prince

Is this what it sounds like when doves cry? A true artist who changed the face of music: brilliant story teller…wild chance taker -refused to worrying about what “others” thought- His music was great because he did as he pleased… did not compromise to “fit-in” he became iconic because he was genius and adored for his charming frenzy & simple shyness – he broke down barriers- his infectious tunes blew up the charts … this was all after several unsuccessful attempts. The same ears that suddenly loved him, earlier in his career had rejected him. BUT… He never gave up on his dream- he had a story to tell and he was going to make sure we listened – Isn’t that a great mentoring legacy? Isn’t that life well lived. Thank you Prince for all your royal greatness… Nothing compares to you

Music has always been my treasure trove of inspiration. Everything I do has a lyrical, musical influence. Once in a great while a magnificent artist emerges who is the perfect trifecta: a brilliant performer, a true-to-life writer, and a talented songwriter. These brilliant creative talents mesmerize us because they have the courage to go where none of us dare. They bear all, give all. These pioneers mentor us with powerful messages that hit like a freight train, and we benefit so much from their hard-hitting, uninhibited, adventurous art.

This first time I heard Chris Whitley I was driving down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. It was late at night in the Spring of 1992. I put his CD, Living with the Law, into the player and immediately I had to pull over. The songs were intoxicating. Each note and word seemed to buzz within me, a force tearing at the fabric of my emotional being.

The songs were profound, and crafted with incredible vision. Chris was no less than a conduit to the emotions of the planet—or at least to my own. Would it be crazy to accuse him of espionage? It felt as if he had raided my heart and soul, and put all of its secrets into one of his songs. To say he channeled my feelings would be arrogant and inaccurate: Chris was too authentic to steal a diary and make its clandestine words his own. His music felt like finding a long-lost friend. It made me want to smile, cry, and fall in love, simultaneously. The melodies and lyrics were alternately overwhelming, comforting, painful, and genuinely satisfying. That night, I was going to see him live in concert.

My friend Mike and I had cut out of work early to make the show—so we had both missed the broadcasts announcing the verdict in the Rodney King trial. That night, Los Angeles burned down around us in a violent frenzy. But, fools that we were, nothing could prevent us from seeing Chris’ concert. Not even the mayhem of a dangerous riot. There we were in the middle of one of the most explosive nights in U.S. history, singing along with Chris on stage, singing at the top of our lungs.


Even with terrible danger all around us, there was no better place to be, and so we continued to belt it out:

“When this is over, over and through / And all the changes have come and past
I want to meet you in the Big Sky Country / Just want to prove mama, love can last
I want to meet you in the Big Sky Country / Be kissing time, be kissing time goodbye / Just gonna prove it while the whole world collides.”

Throughout the years, each of Chris’s works offered a different satisfaction. Each new CD studies and interprets the human person, sharing in the blessings—and the hard lessons—of life. Chris never failed to capture the essence of life, how a life is really lived, and how it could deteriorate. Chris was a gifted storyteller who could say so much with so few, carefully chosen, words. Those words drenched in mentoring messages.

On November 20, 2005, Chris took his final breath. On his tenth anniversary I felt compelled to finish this piece, which I began writing 10 years ago in his memory. His ability to break down barriers and highlight our common bonds is what made him a sublime mentor. The world really could use Chris right now.

The last time I saw Chris Whitley was at Club Passim, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There was no finality in that experience though. I own every CD he ever made. Pandora has a Chris Whitley Station. I just learned about the documentary “Dust Radio,” which I hope captures his high-voltage talent and primitive power. And I just discovered Trixie Whitley, his amazingly talented daughter.

The legacy of Chris Whitely is preserved, in his music and his memory, in his family, and in a new generation of songwriters who seem poised to fall under the spell of this daring, timeless artist.

Goal Setting & Mentorship

It has happened again: the holidays have come and gone and suddenly a new year is upon us. For many of us, 2016 marks the arrival of a season of hope and new beginnings. We reminisce about our accomplishments over the past year, feeling pride in having achieved the goals that we set for ourselves and perhaps recommitting to the goals that we seek to achieve in the new year. For many of us, this is the time for creating resolutions. Often these resolutions include things that we were unable to achieve in 2015, or new challenges that we hope to embrace.

The New Year is an excellent time to create goals for self-improvement and for bettering the lives of others. New Year’s resolutions are sometimes a challenge to create, and something that we put off. This happens because the resolutions and goals we come up with are vague and do not truly reflect what we want to achieve.

Our resolutions and goals for 2016 will be different. We will achieve them if we focus on what will benefit ourselves and benefit others as a result. As we create our resolutions for 2016, I would encourage taking a different approach to resolutions and goal-setting. Rather than drafting vague and unattainable goals, I encourage writing down resolutions which are defined, specific, and measurable, and including a resolution centered on mentorship. To receive instruction or guidance from a mentor can be life changing. Whether it’s a younger person receiving the instruction, an older person, or just a less experienced person, the experience can be profound. The mentor, this trusted counselor and guide, can make an immense difference in a person’s life. Being a mentor and being mentored can propel you to go further, and to do more than you ever thought possible. It can give you the confidence and strength to make a difference.

Mentorship is integral to our success. If we look back on our experiences, and consider the people who have had an influence on our lives, we are bound to find a mentor who has played some part, big or small, in leading us to where we are. If we look back, we are also bound to find that we have been a mentor to someone and have made a difference in their life. Creating a mentor-centered goal for 2016 is a beautiful gift that we can give to ourselves and to others.

Your mentor-centered goal for 2016 will likely encompass your other goals. Mentorship is broadly defined, covers a range of activities, and come in various forms. Even a small resolution which seems unimportant can be vastly profound through the lens of mentorship. For example, a resolution to meet a friend for coffee twice a month can be a mentorship goal. Sitting and talking with that friend for coffee is a form of mentorship. These meetings can be just what the friend needs to boost her confidence, and maybe meeting with this particular friend gives you such hope and positivity that you do not receive from anyone else. Mentorship does not require the traditional teacher-student image we conjure up when we think “mentoring.” We can define mentorship for ourselves. No matter how we define it, we can achieve it if we consider the positive impact it will have on our lives and others’ lives.

We all have a story about that one person who made a huge difference in our life. Whether we tell the story, or just periodically think about it, that person had a place in your life, and they made a difference. We should all go through life with this mindset. What a better place the world would be if we just made it a goal to give guidance to one person a day.

Thus, when making a mentor-centered goal for 2016, go beyond the abstract of “be a mentor.” Instead, consider what it means for you to be a mentor, or to be mentored, and write that down as a goal that is specific and attainable. The mentor-centered goal for me this year, which incidentally is also an academic goal, is to plan and participate in weekly lunch and study sessions with classmates at the University which I attend. What is your goal?

Patti Gets Mentored by Cumar

January is National Mentoring Month and mentoring is the heart and soul over at Cumar Marble and Granite in Everett Massachusetts! Team Cumar adopted our co-founder Grammy Award Winner Patti Austin as their mentee a few years ago and we wanted to share this picture with you today. The collaboration with Patti , Cumar and Over My Shoulder Foundation has provided many opportunities to inspire the design industry to beef up their mentoring efforts. Here are a few things we have done to nourish this important MENTOR-CENTRIC conversation- We can design the next generation; You can design the next you: Together we can design healthy productive people by committing to a mentor-centric lifestyle! Look over your shoulder and become the key to someone’s success- Dawn Carroll


The Give and Take of Mentoring in the World of Luxury Homes

Thank Your Mentor Day at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Video

Neiman Marcus Home for the Holidays Mentor-Fest

Alex and Ani- Boston Design Week

Leslie Fine & Poggenpohl

“Life most persistent and urgent question is, “WHAT are YOU DOING for OTHERS” Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Last year BILLBOARD magazine published a fabulous list of songs that honored one of our finest mentors, Dr. Martin Luther King. “I Have A Dream” by Will.I.AM and Common” is one of my favorites. They brilliantly weaved my favorite Dr. King speech into the sounds of today. We here at OMSF fuse the worlds of Music-Mentoring and Design because we believe that creative minds will provide the answers to many of our individual and societal issues, that mentoring can be a remedy to the many problems we face in this world. January is National Mentoring Month and we hope you will celebrate with us by sharing your favorite messages of hope-peace-inspiration. Our goal for the New year is to share with you messages that mentor peace, mentor calm. Wishing you the very best in 2016 Dawn Carroll

Morning Glory

Recently I discovered Kaga no Chiyo, a haiku poet from the 1700’s who stated to write at the age of seven. She did not know the word mentor at the time but she studied under two haiku masters who were also mentored by a great poet, Basho….I took this photo in Palos Verdes recently and I knew it had a message for me- I would like to introduce to you “Chiyo” When I was searching for words that would capture the beauty of this moment I found her and this amazing site that celebrated this woman of the 1700’s who mentored me many years later.

“One summer morning Chiyo the poetess got up early wishing to draw water from the well…She found the bucket entwined by the blooming morning glory vine. She was so struck…that she forgot all about her business and stood before it thoroughly absorbed in contemplation. The only words she could utter were ‘Oh, the morning glory!’ At the time, the poetess was not conscious of herself or of the morning glory as standing against [outside] her. Her mind was filled with the flower, the whole world turned into the flower, she was the flower itself…

I cherish the relationships I have with the people in my life more than anything. As a PR girl, I’m naturally a “people person”. I love my family, my friends, and even the people that have quickly come and go. Every single person has taught me something, and I can confidently say that the people in my life have made me the person I am today. Not only does this go for my loved ones, but it also goes for the people I have encountered in the workplace.
I’ve held numerous internships in the public relations field, and not once have I had a bad experience. Some may call that luck, but I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s because of the inspiring, hard-working, driven people I’ve worked with during my experiences. I’ve made some great friends during my internships, which is something I expected. However, what I did not expect was to develop such close relationships with my bosses.
From here on out, I won’t be using the term “bosses” because that doesn’t give an accurate depiction of who they are in my eyes. Personally, the term “boss” is daunting to me, and that’s the last word I’d use to describe them. They were mentors – and they still continue to be my mentors.
Mentors are people in our lives that guide us and have faith in us. They are honest and experienced at advising us in our daily lives. My mentors did all of the above and more.
Last semester, I interned in a public relations agency right here in Boston and learned so much from my two mentors. In fact, the agency referred to every intern’s direct manager as a “mentor”. This stuck with me and made me eager to apply to the internship program. My mentors guided me in my daily tasks and had faith in me to produce great work. As I became comfortable with daily tasks, such as updating media lists and coordinating blogger mailings, they assigned me with more challenging tasks. I quickly began to write press releases, compile coverage reports, and pitch to reporters on the phone. Their trust in me was so uplifting and made me feel like I could go to them for anything. If I had questions, whether about an assignment or about public relations in general, they were always so eager to respond and teach me new things. I could say the same for my internship this past summer as well.

I still keep in touch with all my mentors because I became so close with them and truly developed lifelong relationships. I have this new found level of confidence and know I can go to them for career advice or any sort of advice in general.
I think having mentors like these in the workplace is so powerful in enhancing a company culture. Aside from interns, everyone should have a mentor to go to for advice and guidance. I’ve grown so much in my public relations career through their guidance. They’ve taught me to contribute my ideas in the workplace whenever I can and to not be scared of trying new things. They’ve also given me so much advice as to how to have a successful career in public relations.
I think many people underestimate the power of a mentor in a person’s life, and that shouldn’t be the case. Mentors have the ability to uplift others, whether in the workplace or not.

[box]Life was complicated for me in junior high. Sharing the intimate details of your life was not an option during the 1970s. You hid everything back then, pretended that nothing hurt. You sucked it up and moved on. But I remember my music class, and our teacher Pip Moss, vividly. Under Pip’s direction, we dissected our favorite songs and discussed their meaning. James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”is the one I recall the best. That song was the first instance I can remember of anyone talking openly about private emotional pain.

On my favorite radio station back then, the songs told stories about every emotion that life could elicit. I knew just about every word of every song. Music has the unique ability to arouse introspection, and it offered me some stability in those turbulent years. If that’s not a kind of mentorship, I don’t know what is.

I’m very excited to feature my old classmate, Peter Downing. With this post, Peter reminds me how important our music teacher Pip Moss was, and how grateful I still am for his guidance and education.

— Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]


I clicked on two video links: “Musician arrested for singing in subway” and “BBC Music – God Only Knows.” The second video is a montage of pop artists singing The Beach Boys’ masterpiece,“God only Knows.” An eighty-piece orchestra backs twenty-seven hugely famous and talented singers, who take turns singing one line of Brian Wilson and Tony Asher’s classic love song each. Brian himself is in the video. By the time it got around to Dave Grohl, however, the meaning of the song had changed.

I was primed by the video of that brave New York City subway musician being wrongfully arrested for plying his trade. I’ve been a busker, you see—not out of fiscal necessity but rather out of spiritual need. Holding court in The Pit, in Harvard Square, with my old band, The Peasants, is a cherished memory. For me, it was the only outlet that beat the skull-busting rush of shooting cocaine.

Watching the young man in the first video being taken away in handcuffs—for what? For being the most alive one can be? It affected me. It hurt my soul.

I no longer imagined the musicians singing “God only knows” to a loved one; instead, the song become a paean to music itself. I didn’t see Elton John the mega star. I saw the awkward little boy, the target of ridicule, then a tortured artist, finding solace in creativity, now paying tribute to the thing that saved him.

Not every musician is “tortured,” obviously. But there is a certain madness required in mastering an instrument. It takes hundreds of hours alone in room, repeating the same work over and over with single-minded focus. God only knows what Brian Wilson and this distinguished band of merry misfits would be without music as an outlet.

Without it, I know, I’d be incarcerated or interred.

My story is a familiar one: alcoholism, broken home, latchkey kid. I was a good reader, but most of the other subjects confounded me. I couldn’t seem to pay enough attention.

Enter a young, long-haired, energetic, and very knowledgeable music teacher named Pip Moss. He had soft shoes, John Lennon glasses, and a corduroy blazer. Despite the hip style, Pip was the son of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first violinist and Concert Master. His intention, according to my classmate Warren, was to turn kids on to classical pieces in his first year teaching the class “Music Listening.” But the kids rebelled.“We want rock,” they demanded. And Pip—maybe realizing the futility of his campaign—turned on a dime. He got a Fender Stratocaster and some Hendrix records, and by the time my class showed up the following year he had whole new curriculum.

He led off with Cream. My older sister liked the band so I already knew them. I was able to answer some questions intelligently. Pip took notice. During a quiz he played an obscure track. It was our job to identify the musician.

I knew instantly, raised my hand, and said, “It’s Cream.”

Pip smiled broadly and said, “Correct! How did you know?”

“Clapton’s voice.”I said.”

“Mmm. Good ear,” he said, “except it’s actually Jack Bruce who’s singing.”

It was an imperfect victory (something I’d have to get used to) but a victory nonetheless. I was suddenly engaged, scored well on quizzes, and in no time I was even teaching my classmates guitar. It was a sea-change.

Pip’s support may have been a small gesture, but it grew exponentially, the way a tiny adjustment at the start of a tee shot becomes a quantum leap three hundred yards down the fairway. A metric expansion of space began that day, and forty years later his words are still helping me as I strive to be more patient, kind, and generous. Where would I be without him as a mentor? God only knows.

[box]About the Author

Peter Downing graduated from Tufts University. He is a musician, father, and Managing Partner of Cerberus Life Management, an addiction recovery services firm.[/box]


Happy Mentoring Month! The beginning of each new year not only gives us a chance to set goals for the future, it also offers an opportunity to reflect on the past. We’re delighted to report that 2014 was a banner year here at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Here are just a few highlights, from awards and events to media sponsorships and emotional mentorship stories.

Continue Reading…


Author Justin Locke, Musicians Marnie Hall, Robin Lane

When I was 15 years old, I went through an extraordinary life-altering event.  For years I had attended the rather grim public school that served that relatively poor rural community.  But then one day I was taken out of that environment and transferred . . .  Or perhaps one should say  “transported” . . . into the wondrous environment of the local rich kid college prep school.

For decades I have been planning to write a book about that cultural dissonance, and compare the cultures of poor kids and rich kids.  And I have finally done it.  It’s titled “Getting in Touch with Your Inner Rich Kid.”

Why am I telling you all this in the Over My Shoulder blog?  Because one of the biggest differences between poor kids and rich kids was the presence of mentoring.

In the poor kid’s school, there was one single “guidance counselor” to serve over 2000 students.  I had exactly one meeting with this woman, and all I can remember of that meeting was her saying, “Justin, you can’t go into music, you’ll never make a living at it.” She meant well.  After all, what possible hope did a kid in that school ever have of playing in the Boston Pops?

But when I arrived at the rich kid school, there was no guidance counselor.  Instead, I was astonished to hear that I, like all the other rich kids, was to be paired up with a specific faculty member who would act as my “advisor.”  This was way more than just someone who would give me terse career advice once a year.  They were a pal, they were a mentor, they were your support system.  If you had any kind of issue, you had someone in power that you could talk to one-on-one.  It actually wasn’t even about advice.  It was just a sense of support, safety, and connection.  I stayed in touch with my senior year advisor for many years after I graduated.

I saw this support system in other rich kid environments.  In my twenties, I spent several years as a  “college drop-in” at Harvard University, as my best friend was a live-in “tutor” in a Radcliffe dormitory.  What is a “tutor” you ask?  Well, for all the academic stardom of your average Harvard student, there was an embedded support system of “tutors” for them in every Harvard dormitory.  These “tutors” were recent Harvard graduates who lived in the dormitories, eating the same food.  There were tutors in math, tutors in science, there was even a music tutor who staged concerts and annual house musicals.  These tutors provided essential “big brother” support for the students.  If a student had any kind of difficulty with their course work, they had someone right there living amongst them, a veteran of the system, that they could ask for assistance.

When I was a poor kid, I was a lone individual, dealing with government bureaucracy.  When I became a rich kid, I was immediately provided with adults in my life that I could trust and could lean on for emotional support.

When I talk about poor kids and rich kids, I’m not talking about money.  Money is just one aspect of wealth.  Wealth is derived in no small part from your “emotional infrastructure.” Being wealthy means having what you want, and for the vast majority of us, that means starting your day with a feeling of connection and belonging.  When that is absent, even if you have cash in the bank, you are a poor kid.

– – – –

You can read more about Justin Locke’s book “Getting in Touch with Your Inner Rich Kid” on his website,  He is giving a public seminar in Newton Massachusetts on August 27, 2012.  To buy tickets and for information, visit

peace-sign-39484_640The world witnessed its share of sadness in 2014. The cycle of senseless violence made us question our selves and our place in the world. Now, the start of a new year brings the promise of a new leaf. But the world isn’t cooperating. These past weeks have seen a violent attack in France, continued turmoil in the Middle East, and civil war in Eastern Europe. Misunderstanding blinds us to the right course of action, and stops us from peacefully seeking the route to understanding.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we have been searching for a way to make a positive impact, however modest. So in 2015, we’re going to Mentor Peace.

We mentor peace by opening our minds to new concepts. We mentor peace by fighting ignorance with education. Above all, we mentor peace by treating every person with care and respect we would show to a member of our families. Over the past few weeks, I interviewed a number of magnificent young people, from all corners of the globe, asking a simple question: “How will you mentor peace in 2015? What do you hope for in your country regarding peace?”

Fahad, Age 23, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
“I want to mentor peace by showing that world that regardless of what they see on the media, there are good people in all corners of the country.”

Kylie, Age 22, Ferguson, Missouri
“I will mentor peace by showing people that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by their character. I will do this by showing the world how successful people of color can be, regardless of stereotype.”

Lucy, Age 19, Paris, France
“I want to mentor peace by showing the world that together, non violent acts of protest can speak to millions in silence.”

Fatima, Age 25, Islamabad, Pakistan
“I want to show the world that violence is never right. I want to show the world that people who are violent will not win. The only way to fight violence is with peace. The only way to remember the lives of the innocent is with positivity. I want the world to know that the lives of the innocent children killed in my country will always be remembered. I will be peaceful for them.”

Mira, Age 22, Beirut, Lebanon
“My wish for peace in 2015 is for my country to see the beauty in all people. God has given us the ability to live in a beautiful country. We must also show that beauty through our actions.”

Mohammad, Age 29, United Arab Emirates
“I want to mentor peace by telling people to love all religions and respect everyone’s belief. We can do this by educating and really listening to each others point of view respectfully. Didn’t our prophets do the same?”

Tyrese, Age 8, Boston, Massachusetts
“I want to mentor peace by showing my friends books about all different cultures. This way, we can all be friends and get along.”

Martin, Age 26, Dublin, Ireland
“I want peace to be mentored through every step I take. I want peace to be mentored through the kind words I speak to people. I want peace to be mentored through politicians, because people pay attention when people in power practice peace.”

Miranda, London, UK
“I love people of all race religions and backgrounds. I want to take my knowledge and spread it like wildfire —that underneath our skin we are all the same!”

Carlo, Madrid, Spain
“I want the people of my country to have empathy on those who are poor, and mentor them into better health. I want to mentor and inspire people to help the less fortunate.”

Bahir, Damascus, Syria
“I want to mentor the world. I want to tell people; My country is beautiful. Even under violence, we still dance and love. If we can mentor dancing and love through hard times, we can help anyone get through a hard time.”

Let us mentor the world with powerful actions, showing that peace is greater than hatred and violence. Let us mentor society by demonstrating that peace can be found everywhere on earth. Let us mentor each other on the path to peace.


[box]About the Author

OMSF team member Marissa Ranahan is a student at the University of Hartford and hopes to pursue a career in writing.[/box]


Every year, millions of people around the globe make New Year’s resolutions to better their lives.

Some of the most common goals are to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, learn a second language, and save money. These are all perfectly worthwhile ambitions. But there’s another resolution that should be added to the top of your list: to become a better mentor.

January is National Mentoring Month in the United States, and that’s a perfect way to kick off each new year. It’s a reminder that everyone needs the support of their friends and loved ones to succeed, and that each of us can become a better mentor to the people in our lives.

Becoming a mentor doesn’t necessarily mean working with a charity (although there are many fantastic volunteer mentorship opportunities). It doesn’t require a long-term commitment. Coworkers, family members, and friends can all use the support of a mentor from time to time. Opportunities arise daily—as long as we’re looking for them—to lend support and guidance, to bolster the best parts of each other.

This year, commit yourself to a new New Year’s resolution. And stay on track by staying in touch:

· Check out the OMSF archive and subscribe to the blog

· Become a fan of OMSF on Facebook

· Contact us about sharing your own mentorship story!

[box]I get so excited when I discover a unique mentoring story, whether it’s in the form of a book, song, show or film. Today OMSF is thrilled to feature Kay Goldstein, author of Star Child. It’s a fabulous adult/YA book that takes us on a journey of Terra and Marius—two star children trying to fit in. It’s a story is about confidence and loneliness, fears and obsessions.

January is National Mentoring Month so we are particularly glad to have this tale, which uses mentoring to counter the alienation and negative feelings that diminish the possibility of hope. We all need more hope, and we all need a mentor. I’d like to thank Kay for taking the time to write this piece for the OMSF blog, and I hope you’ll buy a copy of her book!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

As we begin the New Year and many of us think about making resolutions, I am reminded that all of us can use a little help achieving our goals. And one thing I learned from writing Star Child is that there is only one resolution that we really need: to be true to our selves. For if we know who we are and can nurture the very best and most unique parts of ourselves, then we will find a great satisfaction in our lives, our relationships, and our work. Any resolution that is not based in this truth is bound to fail, especially if it is designed just to please others.

The story of the star children offers inspiration as well as examples of how to get through difficult times, and how to realize one’s unique self. Both children recognized that they were different from the others. Both felt the pain of their “differentness,” even though they had caring adults and family around them. In fact, they were often pressured and even bullied to conform to the “norm.”

But each found a mentor who provided some special guidance. For Terra, it was the Ancient Mother; for Marius, it was the Baker: both appeared just when the characters most needed guidance. While different in their approaches and support, each provided similar assistance:

  • They were non-judging—that is, they were accepting of the young man and woman. The goal was not to change them into something more socially acceptable, but to help them develop their unique abilities so that they could share them with others.
  • They shared something of their own stories and experience, not all of which they were proud. In other words, they shared their common humanity.
  • Each encouraged Terra and Marius to trust themselves and to seek what they most desired.
  • Each had skills that they shared with Terra and Marius.
  • And finally, both the Ancient Mother and The Baker had great wisdom that allowed them to intervene in the lives of their community and those they mentored at critical times. Neither expected Marius or Terra to follow exactly in their footsteps but allowed them to find their own way with their guidance and support.

Kay Goldstein

Kay Goldstein

As the author of this story, I felt those characters help me understand how to write a book that was true to my own voice and self. When faced with the task of editing the final version of the story, I often imagined what the Ancient Mother or the Baker or even Terra might want to do or say. They ended up being my mentors too. It was only when the book was published that I realized that I was learning, at a much older age, many of the same lessons that Terra and Marius had learned.

January is National Mentoring Month. If you seek support, guidance, and good examples—no matter what your age—then seek out a mentor! You’d be surprised: they sometimes appear only once you have decided you need one. And consider offering your own gifts and skills to those around you. Everyone will benefit!

[box] About the Author

Kay Goldstein is the author of Star Child (Vineyard Stories), a spiritual fairy tale for adults and young adults and recipient of a 2013 Nautilus Book Award, as well as A Book Of Feasts, Stories and Recipes from American Celebrations, a James Beard Award nominee. Kay was formerly an editor for Zagat Restaurant Guides and founder of award-winning Proof of the Pudding, Atlanta’s first gourmet takeout store/restaurant and catering business offering innovative American and fusion foods. She is married to Buck Goldstein and has two grown children, dividing her time between Chapel Hill, NC, and Martha’s Vineyard, MA.[/box]



A glamorous reception last Wednesday night kicked-off the “Home for the Holidays” exhibit at Neiman Marcus’ fabulous Copley Place location.

“I never thought in a million years that our little gift gallery could be transformed into three amazing royal residences,” said Daniel Kramer, Vice President and General Manager of Neiman Marcus Boston, in his opening remarks. New England Home publisher Kathy Bush-Dutton spoke next, echoing Kramer’s sentiment and crediting the three designers and their teams.

Tony Fusco, co-producer of “Home for the Holidays,” announced the schedule for Boston Design Week 2015, which takes place March 19–29 in Boston. He then put the spotlight squarely on OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll, who took the microphone to emphasize the vital importance of mentorship in the world of design and in this exhibit especially.

“There’s no school for stone design,” Carroll said. “That’s why mentorship is so important to Cumar, and that was part of the reason I founded the Over My Shoulder Foundation. In mentorship, we act as good stewards for our industry and our society.”

To produce “Home for the Holidays,” three Boston designers were invited to re-imagine famous royal palaces, and each were asked to allow a mentee to contribute significantly to the vision and project.

The Versailles room, designed by Paula Daher and mentee Virginia Seherr-Thoss, offers the classic gold trim in perfect balance with the decidedly modern furniture. The finishing touch? A pair of Christmas trees that sparkle with silver and gold ornaments.

Intoxicating in its blend of comfort and style, Gerald Pomeroy and mentee Lauren Cozzi’s Balmoral room boasts green-and-white wall panels of British country scenes, tweedy wall-to-wall carpet, and a rustic lantern chandelier above the table.

In the Winter Palace, Eric Roseff and mentee Evie Hickey dazzle with deep blue walls, a mélange of richly-textured furniture—including green leather chairs and a lush blue sofa-in-the-round—as well as faux windows that face an array of mesmerizing portraits.

Cumar Marble and Granite provided magnificent pieces of stone art for each space, carved fireplaces, framed pieces of semi-precious stones—and something special in the Winter Palace: two gorgeous white natural quartzite columns, both back-lit for ambiance, resembling floor-to-ceiling icicles. Each piece is a stunning work of art.

“Home for the Holidays” can be visited in the home section of the Neiman Marcus store in Copley Place, Boston. The event will close in January 2015 with a mentoring gala sponsored by Cumar and the Over My Shoulder Foundation.


[box]My dream for the Over My Shoulder Foundation has always been to support and encourage mentoring relationships. We do that by producing stories, events, music, and awards that pay tribute to our own mentors and tell their stories. The journey has been so rewarding, and we have been so very fortunate to meet amazing people committed to making the world a better place. We have featured unique people like the graffiti artist Toofly; author and former white supremacist Arno Michaelis; and the brilliant lawyer Rick Dyer, who overcame addiction and now practices in the same court where he was sentenced eight times! Our stories have come to life via Jordan Rich’s nationally syndicated radio show and have been able to tell our story on the website of the acclaimed jewelry company, Alex and Ani.

Today I’m pleased to announce OMSF’s relationship with a fabulous new movie, “All Saints.”  By the time I hit page twelve of the script I could already hear the songs, drenched in mentoring, with a movie score that could inspire hope and mentorship. The producer, Martha Chang, is a long-time friend. Back in the 1990’s we watched a little film project of ours—called 3 Ninjas—come to life and take flight! I’m blessed that this friendship has flourished all these years, and I am truly honored to be working with her again on this amazing project!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

The Reverend Michael Spurlock and his congregation at All Saints Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, know that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

And so does mentoring, as they have come to find out. Spurlock helped a group of impoverished Southeast Asian refugees make their home in the United States while they showed him how to save his dying church at the same time. Now their story is on its way to becoming both a Hollywood movie and an innovative mentoring opportunity.

In 2007, Spurlock made a midlife career change and became an Episcopal priest. His first assignment was to move to Smyrna and close down All Saints, which had lost most of its congregation to a more conservative rival Anglican church. That’s when an unexpected influx of new worshippers appeared: seventy Karen refugees from Myanmar (also known as Burma), Christians forced to flee their country or face possible death.

Rather than sell All Saints, as he had been ordered to do, Spurlock decided to revive the church by utilizing the Karen’s skills as farmers. Despite many formidable obstacles—including drought, floods, lack of equipment and money, and skeptical church superiors—the plan worked. The church was saved, restored to health by this infusion of committed congregants.

A piece about the small miracle in Smyrna appeared in a Nashville newspaper and came to the attention of Steve Gomer, a TV and film director on the lookout for a special kind of story.

“There was a writer I had worked with closely and we wanted to find something to do with a clergy person,” Gomer said by phone from his summer vacation in Vermont. “We thought it would be a good area. I had done some research. When you read about studies that have done with clergy, you see there are similar problems. The kids have problems, the spouses have problems, and they deal with interesting life or death things. We found this article about what happened at All Saints and started looking into that. The more we found out about it the more interesting it became.”

Producer Martha Chang was also keen to work with Gomer—but she was dubious when Gomes told her about the All Saints idea.

“It actually started with Steve saying there are all these Karens in Tennessee,” Chang recalled from her home in Los Angeles. “And I said, ‘No, I think all the Koreans are here in Koreatown in L.A.’ And he said, ‘No, the Ka-RIN, K-A-R-E-N.’  It turns out they’re a minority group from Burma and they’ve been going through a form of genocide, although I believe that’s calmed down quite a bit now. They had been brought here as political refugees.

“Steve said, ‘I think this is a story you’ll really like. It’s about a priest.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I’m not sure I want to do a movie about a priest right now.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s really about faith.’

Continue Reading…


On Friday evening, September 5, Over My Shoulder Foundation Executive Director Dawn Carroll was thrilled to present Boston design legend Yolanda Cellucci with the second annual “Designing the Next Generation Award” during a VIP reception at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.

The “Designing the Next Generation Award” spotlights the importance of mentoring across generations and cultural barriers—not only to the field of design, where it is vital, but also to the work of creating a better society. Founded by OMSF in 2013, in partnership with the Cumar Marble and Granite, the award’s inaugural recipient was Governor Michael Dukakis.

For more than four decades, Yolanda Cellucci has worked tirelessly to translate movie-star glamour from the runway and the red carpet to the streets of America. In that time, she has mentored more than her share of young women and men: fashion designers, interior designers, and local media fixtures—as well as a familiar face.

“Like so many young women, I launched my career at her store,” explains Dawn Carroll. “She ignited confidence in me that women could be powerful business leaders, glamorous wives, and nurturing mothers. Yolanda was a wonderful mentor.”

Friday night also marked the opening of “Yolanda: Innovative Fashion Icon; 50 Years of High Heels, Headpieces, and Haute Couture” an exhibit of high-fashion gowns that features an all-star lineup of twentieth century designers. Curated by Cellucci herself, the exhibit includes several items from her private collection.

Here are just a few scenes from the event, courtesy of photographer Jim Canole:

Continue Reading…

OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll and Yolanda Celluci
Yolanda Cellucci (L) with OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll (R)

Waltham, MA – Featuring the designs of Oscar de la Renta, Bob Mackie, Stephen Yearick, Givenchy, and other fashion visionaries of the twentieth century, “Yolanda: Innovative Fashion Icon; 50 Years of High Heels, Headpieces, and Haute Couture” opens to the public on September 8. Hosted by The Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, this special exhibit is curated by Boston icon Yolanda Cellucci.

On Friday, September 5, Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) Executive Director, will present Yolanda Cellucci with the second annual “Designing the Next Generation” award during a VIP preview of the exhibit. The award, co-sponsored by OMSF and Cumar Marble & Granite, honors those who cross generations and cultures to mentor the leaders of tomorrow, and was last presented to Governor Michael Dukakis.

“Like so many young women, I launched my career at her store,” explains Dawn Carroll. “I learned show production and how to navigate the world of glamorous luxury brands. Under her guidance, I learned how to work with political figures, newscasters, and celebrities. We all learned how to be ladies, how to be professional, how to work with all kinds of people. She ignited confidence in me that women could be powerful business leaders, glamorous wives, and nurturing mothers. She demanded that you respect yourself and be the very best that you could be. Yolanda was a wonderful mentor.”

Yolanda Cellucci founded her famed bridal salon with just a handful of dresses in 1968 and built it into a local institution. She brought couture fashion to the conservative streets of Boston. Forward thinkers like Yolanda sparked the imaginations of designers of all kinds to explore couture, bringing the glitz of Cher and glam of Bob Mackie to the woman on the street.

By the time Yolanda Cellucci closed her shop in 2009, the business included a bridal salon, bridesmaid and couture boutiques, children’s wear, and a full-service beauty salon and spa.


[box]More Details

September 5: VIP opening reception, 6 p.m., at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, $25.
The reception includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the “Designing the Next Generation” award ceremony. To purchase tickets, visit

September 8: Public opening of the exhibit. There is a suggested donation of $10.

October 16: Special exhibit talk with Cellucci at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, 6 p.m., $25. To purchase tickets, visit

November 20: Special exhibit talk with Sondra Celli at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, 6 p.m., $25. To purchase tickets, visit

For more information, visit[/box]


Having It All

6267365751_bb19f7fc47_oAnne-Marie Slaughter, photo © PopTech

[box]When women are asked if they think they can “have it all,” many will say yes. A few usually say, maybe not. It’s still so hard for women to juggle high-pressure careers, family, mental health, friends, and hobbies. They have to stay emotionally stable, stay physically fit, nourish a marriage—oh yeah, then there’s soccer, gymnastics, hockey games…. Can you do it without a team of experts, a house manager, a Nanny, a stay-at-home dad? I personally side with those that say Nope! I could not do it—though maybe I could pretend. But inevitably, something would break. Something would be compromised. When I watch brave women trying to have it all, I can’t help but wonder…

Reading the now-infamous Atlantic article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, I was so relieved: here was a very successful woman admitting that there was a problem. I stopped feeling weak, stopped wondering if the grass really was greener. I asked today’s writer, Erica Korff, to give me her view because, when I was her age, there was no stopping me. I was determined to destroy the glass ceiling. Sliding comfortably into my 50s, I wonder whether I should have done things a little differently.

Join the conversation and let us know what you think!

—Dawn Carroll, Executive Director[/box]

“You’ve got the power.” It’s a simple motivational quote one hears throughout their lifetime. “You can be anything you want to be.” It’s what young adults today heard from their parents. But did every kid really grow up with these ubiquitous sayings?

Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, grew up in a family whose beliefs were rather different. Her experience shines light on the realities of women and the struggle for equality.

In an interview, Indra talked about her mother’s reaction to her becoming the CEO of Pepsi. One would think that such a high position would garner praise and celebration. “Let the news wait,” Indra’s mother said. “Can you go out and get some milk?” That was her reaction to this life-changing news. “Let me explain something to you,” her mother said. “You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

When Indra was asked in a more recent interview if women can “have it all,” her response reflected her mother’s beliefs and perspective. “I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all.”

Indra went into further detail, explaining the challenges of balancing work with her personal life. To her way of thinking, one must choose what they are going to be at a certain time—a mother, a daughter, a wife, or a worker. One cannot be all of those things in a single moment. Perhaps this is true. But does it really mean that women can’t have it all?

“Having it all” may mean something different for each person, but that fact doesn’t mean it can’t be achieved. Indra’s mother told her that she never had a crown to take home—but Indra did have that crown. It’s a sign that the times are changing. Still, “having it all” does not necessarily mean taking on multiple roles at the same time. One chooses, as from a basket. In Indra’s basket were a husband, two daughters, and a rewarding job. Indra may have to pick and choose at times. But that doesn’t mean Indra hasn’t succeeded; it only means she picks one role at a time, depending on the moment. In the end, she carries them all together.

I decided to ask my mother if she thinks that women can have it all. She has been extremely successful in her career, acting as the Executive Sales Manager for New England Home Magazine. I asked whether she had a mentor. She said she did not. Despite that, her views on the question are rather positive.

“I think that women can have it all,” she said. “I think everyone’s definition can be different. I think having it all can be hopefully having a loving relationship, a family, a job, and friends, and making it all work. It’s harder for women because that’s just the way it is; men don’t have to have that added pressure of ‘Oh I have to take care of the kids,’ so it’s a lot on a woman. I do think women can have it all but it is challenging.”

Next I interviewed my great-grandmother, who turns 102 this September. She’s an amazing woman: intelligent, funny, and very with it. She became a widow at a young age, and had to support the family on her own. An extremely hard worker, she now writes stories to share her successes and accomplishments. When I asked her about having a mentor, and what she thought about women having it all, she told me:

“I had Rabbi Zigmond who sponsored me when I worked at Harvard years ago. He supported me and motivated me. Having a job and having a family are two separate loves. Women can raise a family and have a good job, because it’s not the same kind of love for the work and for the family, but they both can get along.”

The women in my family seem to believe that women can have it all, but they recognize the same difficulties that Indra Nooyi described. It may not be easy, and it may require balance and a plan—but if you believe in yourself and work hard, it can all work out. You’ve got the power!

This is the time of year when I flash back to 1975 and start singing “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts non-stop. In the summer, I stock up on new books and music, searching for story-tellers with muscular, mind-blowing, mentor-centric tales to feature on the OMSF blog. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend and his parents, Martha’s Vineyard has become my creative retreat. The island has its own natural philosophy, and the very first edict is to slow the &#^*@ down, soften up, and unburden yourself. The Vineyard has a way of tranquilizing even the busiest of minds.

Through the snarl of the city, against my workaholic inner voice, I curse and argue, knuckles white on the steering wheel, and aim my car towards the Cape. Once I sense the salt air and drive into the belly of the Vineyard ferry, my nerves start to unwind. On this road trip, the workaholic loses; my artsy self wins. When I reach the secluded island I am a world away—swapping my suit for shorts, my painful high-heels for sandals, unapologetically stripping in the front seat of my car. I’m ready to be surrounded by water, to lose myself on country roads, to sink my teeth into something freshly retrieved from the earth—to be mentored by this amazing earthy way of life. Sun, sand, and salt-spray release the tension in my over-worked mind. The ebb and flow of the surf mentors me to calm, and calm feels so good.

Before I get to the beaches, I stop to grab a bunch of books at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore or Edgartown Books. To become fully intoxicated by my surroundings, I always kick off the read-fest with an island author. These titles almost always come from the local publisher Jan Pogue and her Vineyard Stories. I always—without any research or hesitiation—see films produced by the Weinstein Company, and buy music released by Virgin Records or Geffen Records. That’s how it is with Vineyard Stories. I’m drawn to their artistic taste, and they never let me down. I was delighted when Jan was also able to find time in her crazy schedule to meet me; we’ve become friends since I featured one of her books, Star Child by Kay Goldstein, here at the blog. I admire Jan for her ability to discover a great story as well as her brave, entrepreneurial spirit. I knew that she would become a prized mentor in my fabulous mentor collection.

Lucky cover, lo res jpegOne of the books released this year by Vineyard Stories is Some Kind of Lucky. It was my first summer read of 2014. I completely adore this book. The author, Joan Cowen Bowman, has been coming to the island for fifty years for the same reason I go there: because it offers a simpler existence. Like Joan, I find the mysterious secrets of the island nurturing and healing. Like her, I drift into this magical place and become a better version of myself.

In the book, Joan recounts her life as a divorced woman in the 1960s struggling to raise four children. As a person who watched my parents’ marriage crumble during the 1970s, I know first-hand how unusual that was. A decade after Joan’s divorce, my parents were among the first divorces in our small town. When the news became public, my life changed dramatically. Other families thought we were contagious. We were socially quarantined.

Some Kind of Lucky is like the ocean around the Vineyard: serene, fascinating, and turbulent in turns. Joan and I both return to the island year after year for the star-filled, whisper-soft nights; for the sun-kissed days, the moody early mornings, and the mysterious foggy nights; for the fire-fly ballets and the crumbling stone walls. We have both felt loss at sea in our lives, and both crave for the simpler existence the island presents.

Martha’s Vineyard allows you to lose the signal of the mainland and be still. It absorbs all that you bring to its shores, and then tenderly washes away all the confusion, pain, tension, and toxins. It’s a kind of magic. As the jacket of Some Kind of Lucky reads:“sunrise and moonrise, birdsong at dawn or dusk, the lullaby of the tides as we sleep-all this remind us throughout our days and nights that there is some kind of law and order in the universe.”


[box]About the Author

As the co-founder of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, Dawn Carroll is leading the way in what she calls “mentorology.” OMSF is a unique media-based project on a mission to raise awareness about the lifelong benefits of mentorship. An award-winning stone designer, writer, producer, songwriter, and mentor collector, Dawn believes that mentoring stimulates the creative mind and that creative minds will find the answers to many problems we face today. Mentoring creates leadership skills and stronger, more compassionate leaders.[/box]

[box] Pure bliss is the only way I can describe the feeling when I get to thank the people who helped me in my career and life. So many people have shared and invested their time, wisdom, and expertise. Prior to starting this foundation, I spent most of my time tucked away in my office, writing. Then, without warning, something awful snuck up and polluted my creative ecosystem. The plug was suddenly pulled on my creative energy, and I hadn’t even completed my project. It was a ridiculous case of writers block! Desperate to get back the fire, I signed up for a class at Boston’s Pine Manor College MFA Program (founded by writer Dennis Lehane). The class was taught by a charming man named Michael Steinberg, who reviewed my writing, giggled at my frustrations and my plans, and told me that one of the “many” reasons my memoir wasn’t working “just yet” was—the end hadn’t taken place!

He told me to put my notebooks away and write something else for a while. He said that I couldn’t force my pages to fall into perfect alignment if I wanted any kind of authenticity, and that I could not cheat this project by crafting a quick (fictional)  resolution. It was the hardest, most honest advice I ever got. I had to wait—patiently—for the story of my life to develop. To a control freak like me, this wasn’t easy. I nearly threw the manuscript off the cliffs of Zuma Beach. But I didn’t. Instead, I packed it away and fiddled with some lyrics, which eventually became songs, which inspired the founding of the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

It has been years since I looked at that manuscript. Last weekend, curiosity started to burn. I rummaged through the antique chest, that premature coffin to my thousands of pages of notes. A lot has happened since I last tried to write my ending, though. So now I’m searching for a completely different one, inspired by OMSF! Then, after dusting off the manuscript, a funny thing happened—I got an email from Mike. Since I started the Foundation, I have been begging him to share his story on our blog. And now, finally, ladies and gentleman, I am so pleased to introduce one of my most important mentors, Michael Steinberg!

—Dawn Carroll, Executive Director [/box]

MJSWe encounter our most influential mentors, it seems, when we’re ready to receive them. In my case, it happened shortly after I began teaching freshman composition. In the late 60’s, all comp teachers were required to plan their courses according to an outmoded, prescriptive syllabus, one that required teachers to assign their writing students to produce a series of papers. Among them were a narrative, a descriptive essay, an argument, an expository essay, a piece of literary analysis, and a final term paper based solely on library research. This methodology had been in place since the late nineteenth century. It is a narrow, wrong-headed view of what writing is all about. But back then, there was no other option.

Around that same time, I happened to come across a book, A Writer Teaches Writing, by Donald Murray, someone of whom I’d never heard. Murray’s book advocates an inside/out approach to teaching composition. I was immediately drawn to his philosophy. And it kick-started what would over time become my transformation from writing teacher to teaching writer.

Donald Murray was one of the first writing teachers in this country to suggest that the teaching of writing (and literature) had been, for far too long, the exclusive territory of professional critics, researchers, and literature teachers—many of whom, though they might admire writing and literature, do not themselves write.

We didn’t know it back then, but this was the beginning of what would evolve into both the writing process and teacher-as-writer movements. From the late 60’s to the early 90’s these movements changed the way that introductory college writing was taught. In addition, Murray’s work sparked a renewed interest in the teaching of the personal essay, which helped foster the rise of what we’re now calling creative or literary nonfiction.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

Continue Reading…



[box]Over My Shoulder is thrilled to introduce a new writer, Erica Korff. Erica attends the University of New Hampshire and will be graduating in the Spring of 2015 with a Bachelors Degree in communications and writing. Her interests include journalism, blogging, and broadcasting. Living in Boston for the summer, Erica will be offering positive and uplifting stories for mentees and mentors. Today writes about mentorship, business, and mental health. Please help us welcome Erica, and check out her personal blog!

Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director [/box]

mental health: noun 1. a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.

What can you say about your mental health? Do you consider it to be strong and positive? Do you consider it to be healthy?

Whether you’re a young entrepreneur or an experienced business owner, it’s important to sustain good mental health. Carrying all that pressure on your shoulders can be tiring and stressful. It’s important to balance that weight in order to maintain your peace of mind—and, most importantly, to be happy.

Breathing exercises and exercise are good for your all-around health, but having a mentor by your side will also strengthen and stabilize your mental health, in and out of the workplace.

A confident, independent person might be thinking: why would I consider having a mentor? Owning a business, founding an organization, or simply putting yourself to work can stress the mind and body. It isn’t a bad thing to spend time working hard—not necessarily. But it’s important to manage your mental health in the process. That’s where mentorship comes in. Here are three mental health benefits of having a mentor:

1. Advice In Any Situation
A mentor isn’t a manager, someone above who tells you what to do. A mentor provides an outlet to lessen the pressure. Whether it’s an issue with a project or with a fellow colleague, a mentor can advise you to help solve these problems. Having an independent yet experienced perspective can help you sort out obstacles in the workplace. Being able to share your problems and brainstorm solutions with an experienced mentor will strengthen your resolve, ease the pressure, and clear your mind of undue negativity.

2. Someone You Can Trust
Having a mentor with similar interests and a compatible personality builds a sense of trust. With a carefully-chosen mentor, there exists a bond of support. Sometimes it’s difficult to take orders; sometimes it’s difficult to give them. With a mentor offering suggestions and guidance, it can be easier to recognize good advice. A trusted mentor helps you listen, digest, and take action. This strengthens your mental health by lessening the stress of ongoing projects.

3. A Port in the (Entrepeneurial) Storm
Starting a company can be exhilarating. Will your idea sell? Will people visit your site? Will you be able to live on what you earn? Despite the fact that you’re starting a business on your own, however, you don’t have to be on your own. A mentor who is experienced in building great ideas can calm the nerves. They can review your ideas and processes, give feedback, and dole out the “tough love” when needed. A mentor can guide you through the storm of entrepreneurship, settling your mind as well as your emotions.

[box]About the Author

Erica Korff attends the University of New Hampshire and will be graduating in the Spring of 2015 with a major in Communications and a minor in writing. Her interests include news writing, blogging, and broadcasting. Living in Boston for the summer, Erica will be blogging positive and uplifting messages for mentees and mentors. [/box]

1. LisaFischerHeadshot2

[box] “All alone, on my knees I pray / For the strength to stay away / In and out, out and in you go / I feel your fire / Then I lose my self control /How can I ease the pain / When I know your coming back again / And how can I ease the pain in my heart.”

I am so excited to be have the opportunity to share singer Lisa Fischer’s mentoring story with you today.

Lisa is one of my music heros and it is an honor to feature her at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Her hit song, “How Can I Ease the Pain,” was the soundtrack to my life during a tricky break-up while I was living in Los Angeles. I listened to it over and over while I re-grounded myself. I knew and felt every word, and wished that I could write beautiful lyrics for Lisa to one day sing. With eloquence and ease, her voice soars, an takes you away from your worried world. Her gift has been a sanctuary for me.

Many years ago, in Boston, Lisa and I briefly met. She was touring with the Rolling Stones, and had just gotten off stage and come back to her hotel. I happened to be in the Lobby. Lisa and I had mutual friends, so she came over to the table to say hello. I was completely star-struck but managed to blurt out, “ Your singing saved me. One day I want to write a song for you to sing!” She smiled and said, “Well then do it!” I doubt she remembers that night, and while this post may not be a song written for, her story is one you soon won’t forget. If you have seen Lisa on tour with the Stones or in the film “20 Feet From Stardom,” then you know what an unforgettable spirit she is!

Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]


Lisa Fischer has spent most of her life standing “20 Feet From Stardom,” as the title of this year’s Oscar-winning documentary film puts it. Most of her fellow-background singers in the film ached for the spotlight to shine on them. But not Fischer.

“I never feel like I’m relegated to the background,” she said by phone from her home in New York City during a break from the Rolling Stones current world tour. “I don’t know how other singers feel, but for me, I just love background so much. I really enjoy watching artists who love what they do and need someone to support them. So for me it’s a beautiful journey. I’ve been really lucky and blessed to be with amazing artists who I love and respect.”

LisaFischerHeadshotFischer has had her taste of chart success, awards and, yes, the spotlight. Her rendition of “How Can I Ease the Pain,” a song she also co-wrote, was a smash hit that won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 1992. Rolling Stones concerts feature a rendition of “Gimme Shelter” where Mick Jagger moves over and “backup singer” Lisa takes over with houseshaking effect. She also moves to the front of the stage when she tours with Tina Turner: after going toe to toe with the volcanic Tina on “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” the duet turns into a solo showcase for Lisa’s powerhouse pipes.

Yet somehow these small samplings of the limelight have not instilled a gnawing hunger in Fischer for more fame, more money, more of everything. She has found joy and contentment helping others shine.

Fischer’s story begins in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, where she started on her musical path as a child. “My mom sang a lot at home,” she recalled. “My dad sang a lot at home, too. My grandparents bought us a piano and we would just sing. It was part of life. And I’d sing at school, elementary school, high school, college. It was just an extension of the life they started for me.”

By the time she finished junior high school she was dreaming of a career in music, thanks to the guidance of an educator who recognized her talent.

“There was a teacher named Dennis Moore,” Fischer said. “He’s the brother of Melba Moore. He was really kind and was interested in knowing what I wanted to do with my music. I was, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ And he gave me the idea of auditioning for [New York City’s] Music & Art High School.  He helped me choose songs for the audition. He gave me piano lessons and didn’t charge me. He was just patient because I was just a kid, insane, and didn’t know what I wanted to do. He was just lovely. He could see me so clearly. That was just beautiful. And so I went on to Music & Art and then Queens College and just started working in clubs after that.”

Enter the man who would become Fischer’s mentor: Luther Vandross, who spent years touring and recording as a background singer before breaking out as a solo star. 

Continue Reading…


13328459305_198b4641c1_zImage © Craig Sunter

“I thought forgiveness was important for anyone to move forward in life. But most importantly, forgiveness is for ourselves! Just like many spiritual teachers stress. Oprah, in one of her life classes, taught about the art of forgiveness and how its practice enriches the mind, body, and soul. Freedom and forgiveness go hand in hand. When it’s in full swing, you can now put the past behind you. As someone once said; “When the past comes knocking, don’t answer, it doesn’t have anything new to say.”

So true! Here are two quotes I found on Oprah’s Life Class website, and incorporated my own words, enjoy.

“The knowledge of the past stays with us. To let go is to release the emotions, the grudges, the pain and sorrow that hold us back. Forgiveness is not something you do for someone else, it’s something you do for yourself. And once you forgive, you feel free.”   [box] About the Author Marissa Ranahan is a student at the University of Hartford. She hopes to pursue a career in writing.[/box] Marissa Ranahan


Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection).

I am worried about the future of women. If you don’t understand, I don’t blame you—but if you’re a woman, go find a mirror. Take a long look at yourself. What is the first feature you notice about yourself? Likely it’s a physical trait. Is your reflection starting to get foggy? Are you comparing yourself to someone else in society? Many women’s mirrors fog up because they are comparing themselves to airbrushed advertisement models and societal images of what is “beautiful.”  I imagine a 13-year-old woman opening a beauty magazine, then tugging at her thighs and dreaming that “life would magically be better” if she only had that “majestic” thigh gap so many girls desire. This “foggy mirror” image of young women is why I am worried for the future.

However, there is some solace in knowing that I am not the only one who’s worried. A new documentary, Miss Representation, looks about how women are misrepresented and influenced by the mainstream media. A particularly exciting segment of the film focuses on “minute mentoring,” in which young women go from one successful women to another, asking for mentoring advice from each one.

“Women have the desire to be mentored,” says Jessica Shambora, one of the brains behind this mentoring initiative. “When women mentor each other, it is really powerful.” The girls in this film listen attentively to the women that spoke to them. Many of the girls said they felt empowered afterward, and energized simply by meeting successful women who take an interest in mentoring them.

However, girls still feel tension between their intellectual ability and their appearance.

“There is no appreciation for women intellectuals. It’s all about the body, not about the brain,” says Ariella, a high school student. “When is it going to be enough?” asks Maria, another high school student featured in the documentary.

Miss Representation shows how young women feel the constant pressures of the media: the sexualization of women in advertisements, the obsession over weight, the negative effects of social media. All play a key role in distorting the self-image of young women. But positive media can act as a mentor to clear up the fog.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the director of the film, has done a fabulous job creating awareness through cinematography. She imagines a world when her daughter can be confident with her own image, but also recognizes that we have a long way to go. The film features prominent women such as Rachel Maddow, Condoleezza Rice, and Jane Fonda, speaking about their experiences with media distortion through supposedly benign weight jokes, “bitch” jokes, and negative stereotyping. It’s time women ask themselves, When is it going to be enough?

Miss Representation has started many (positive) media campaigns to help raise awareness about this topic. “The Representation Project” on YouTube has videos about the media’s effect on young women. The videos are simple and appropriate for girls of all ages. The film’s website has several ways young women can get involved in the body-positive movement. It also features “media positive” advertisements for girls to watch and compare with mainstream ads—I call this media positive mentoring. If we show young women that their worth is not about their waistline or their appearance, a generation of women intellectuals can be nurtured. It’s time that young woman became just as “obsessed” about being a senator as they are about makeup products.

Everyone can be a media-positive mentor for the young women in our lives by asking girls questions about issues that really matter, by showing them that not all girls are judged by their appearance, by teaching them about successful women past and present, and by showing them how to break down barriers and stereotypes. One of the mentors from the Minute Mentoring program summed up their message simply: “To thy own self be true.”

Visit the Miss Representation web site and click on the link “Take Action” to find more ways to get involved.


[box]About the Author

Marissa Ranahan is a student and staff writer for OMSF.[/box]



[box]April 15th marks the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing. Once again we can lean on the power of  music to heal our minds, ease tension, and free us from painful memories. For those who might struggle to cope on this day we would like to introduce you to a song written just for you by our dear friend Amanda Carr, and performed by her writing partner Charlie Farren.   Music transports us into a peaceful place and it can mentor us—it takes a heavy heart and makes it feather-light. These two iconic Boston Musicians are determined to use their song as a catalyst to rejuvenate the spirit. They hope to make their new song “Strong” an official Boston Anthem.

Boston Strong became  a mentoring mantra: the slogan appeared on thousands of T-shirts, the brain-child of two Emerson College students. “Strong” was inspired by the way our community came together to persevere through a difficult time. Recorded to help inject a positive message into a dark day, we are so proud to present a sneak preview of this song today. We are asking all our Over My Shoulder Foundation friends to share this post and let’s get “World Strong”. [/box]


Amanda Carr

Amanda Carr

Boston, MA (March 17, 2014) – Like so many of us, vocalist/musician and Boston native Amanda Carr was moved beyond words by the tragedy that shocked the world, the city and the people of Boston at the 2013 Boston Marathon. Now, just over a year later, she found words that articulate triumph over tragedy. Her new song, written by Carr and sung by Boston’s own Charlie Farren, is dedicated to the spirit and the resilience of the people of Boston and is called “Strong: A Boston Anthem.”A petition drive to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to adopt the song as Boston’s o!cial anthem is now underway at where fans can also download the song for free and watch it on YouTube. It has been gaining fast momentum on social media since its release.

“After last year, I felt so compelled to do my part in helping the city to recover, but didn’t want to write just another ‘Boston Strong’ song that focused on the tragedy” says Carr. “My hope is that this song will be embraced as an actual Anthem that Boston can be inspired by and call its own that, while paying tribute to all those who were a”ected by last year’s bombings, focuses more on our renewed spirit and unifies us as Bostonians.”

“Strong: A Boston Anthem” pays tribute to the resilient Boston spirit with lyrics like: “My town is made of Blood and Steel, its heart is beating like a drum” and “now we live to tell the story of our hopes, our strength, our glory”.

Says Carr, “This song speaks to everything that makes our city so great—our strength, our perseverance and our ability to move on but never forget.”

For more information on Amanda Carr and “Strong: A Boston Anthem” visit


[box]Singer-songwriter-mentor-performer-mother-philanthropist-healer: meet  my beautiful friend, rock icon Robin Lane. Like many aspiring female rockers, I sat glued to MTV ( when it was actually about music) waiting for my favorite videos. One of theses was by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters—their big song, “When Things Go Wrong.”  Years later Robin still writes, sings, and performs. She also dedicates much of her time to supporting people when things go wrong in their lives. Her nonprofit organization, Songbird Sings, uses songwriting and music to mentor people who have been through difficult experiences, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

Now Robin Lane’s life story is about to come to the big screen, in a new film by Tim Jackson—named after the big song—and we are very pleased to have Larry Katz interview Robin just a few days before the movie premiere and benefit this Friday, April 4, at the Regent Theater in Arlington, MA.[/box]


Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 12.46.14 PM“When Things Go Wrong,” the new film about Robin Lane, includes all the elements you expect to find in the story of a rock musician’s life.

Troubled childhood? Check.

Wild teen years? Check.

A shot at stardom with a major label record deal? Check.

The band’s breakup and the hard times that inevitably follow? Double check.

It’s all there in “When Things Go Wrong,” a new film which will be seen for the first time on Friday, April 4 at 7 p.m. at the Regent Theater in Arlington, MA, a premiere benefit screening that will include a live performance by Lane and her former band, the Chartbusters.

But—spoiler alert—the movie does not end with either the rehab stint or triumphant comeback found in your typical “Behind the Music”-style rock doc. These days Lane, the queen of the Boston new wave scene circa 1980, has found a new venue for her voice and guitar: leading songwriting workshops as a way to help victims of sexual and domestic abuse, at-risk teenagers, prison inmates, and the elderly.

While what Lane does in her workshops is a form of music therapy, she is quick to point out that she is neither a therapist nor a counselor.

“I’m a facilitator,” she said from her rural home in Western Massachusetts. “I facilitate these situations where people can, through songwriting, find a key out of their dilemma—a key to their own healing capabilities. My role is really just to help them find a way to write a song, to help them to heal themselves and get out of whatever they’re in that’s dangerous and not good for their lives.”

It’s not a job she consciously pursued, at least not at first, but it’s one that Lane has found herself eminently well-qualified for. Music, after all, had always been her own lifeline.

“I’d been writing songs for years,” she said, “and didn’t realize why. I’d always loved music, but if I hadn’t had songwriting I would be scared to think of what would have happened to me.”

Lane’s life story has more than its share of mental and physical hurt. Distant parents. Sexual assault. Domestic violence. Divorce. And a tantalizingly close, ultimately frustrating brush with stardom. When the first two Robin Lane and the Chartbusters albums failed to sell as much as expected, the band was tossed aside by their label, Warner Brothers. And after Lane gave birth to a daughter, Evangeline, she found she was no longer considered a serious contender in the male chauvinist rock world of the 1980s.

“I raised my child,” Lane said of her post-Chartbusters years. “Got married again. Had a couple of dogs. Played around. Made the ‘Catbird’ CD [ed. 1995]. Then I got divorced, around 1999.”

And almost without realizing it, she was embarking on a new career as a songwriting mentor.

Continue Reading…


[box] We are thrilled to feature this inspirational interview between Larry Katz and Sam Polk. It’s incredible the way a mentor at the right time can pry us open, leaving just enough space for the light to shine in, providing enough leverage for the next unexpected mentor to step up. Enjoy![/box]


Sam Polk

Sam. Photography courtesy of Sam Polk.

Would you walk away from a job that paid millions?

Sam Polk did.

Four years ago Polk was working for a Wall Street hedge fund. When he received a $3.8 million bonus on top of a $1.5 million salary, Polk reacted with anger. He demanded that his bosses increase his bonus to $8 million. They raised their offer, but only if he agreed to stay with the firm for several more years.

Polk refused. He said he didn’t want to make the commitment.

But the bonus amount wasn’t the reason Polk quit his job. He had come to believe he was an addict hooked on making money—and it didn’t feel good.

Polk tells his compelling story in “For the Love of Money,” an essay published in January on the front page of the New York Times’ Sunday Review. It attracted far more notice than he expected.

“I had no idea of the impact it would have,” Polk said from Los Angeles, where he has launched Groceryships, a non-profit he has co-founded with his wife to provide needy families with “scholarships for groceries.”

“I’ve gotten over 10,000 emails,” he said. “I’ve been interviewed and been on all these radio and TV shows. It’s been overwhelming and shocking.”

In his New York Times story, Polk outlines how he came to understand the wisdom of that old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” It wasn’t an easy lesson, especially since he grew up being told the exact opposite. Polk’s salesman father, he writes, “believed money would solve all his problems.” Then, while attending Columbia University, Polk read in “Liar’s Poker” how a young Michael Lewis made hundreds of thousands as a Wall Street bond trader. He somehow missed the book’s dark side.

“My heroes,” Polk said, “were people who had made billions of dollars and risen to the top of Wall Street.”

A very different set of heroes would emerge later in Polk’s life—unexpected mentors who would profoundly alter his definition of success and a well-lived life. We wanted to know more about these influences and Sam Polk was happy for the opportunity to tell us about them.

Continue Reading…


Pictured (from left): Janice O'Leary, Denise Hajjar, Paula Daher, Dawn Carroll, Ivo Cubi, Carlotta Cubi, Jon Butcher, and Dave Connor. Photograph courtesy of Russ Mezikofsky.

Pictured (from left): Janice O’Leary, Denise Hajjar, Paula Daher, Dawn Carroll, Ivo Cubi, Carlotta Cubi, Jon Butcher, and Dave Connor. Photograph courtesy of Russ Mezikofsky.

On Monday, March 24, the Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) partnered with Cumar, purveyors of fine marble and granite, to present Charmed by Charity: Mentoring in the Music, Design and Fashion Industries.

The event was held at the Alex & Ani outpost on Boston’s trendy Newbury Street, and featured a mix of local celebrities, media, and mentoring supporters. Guests were treated to light fare and copious attention from the Alex & Ani staff, who were on hand to help customers choose from an array of beautiful bangles and bracelets.

Headquartered in Cranston, Rhode Island, Alex & Ani is known for their collection of meaningful jewelry that “adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit.” 15% of proceeds from the evening’s sales were donated directly to the Over My Shoulder Foundation; guests who purchased $100 or more in merchandise were treated to The Path of Life, a book of testimonies by Alex & Ani customers, who share the ways the positively-focused jewelry changed their lives for the better.

Janice O’Leary, health and wellness editor of the global luxury publication Robb Report, formerly editor-in-chief of Boston Common magazine, was the event’s emcee, which kicked off with a welcome from Dave Connor, CUMAR general manager and OMSF board member. Guests were also treated to a song put together especially for the event: “The Path of Life” was co-written by Grammy-nominated Boston rocker Jon Butcher and OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll, and was inspired by the Alex & Ani book of the same title.

After that, Amanda Frederick, assistant manager of Alex and Ani’s Boston location, discussed Charity by Design. Cumar’s executive vice president, Carlotta Cubi, and Paula Daher, principal of Paula Daher Design, talked about the importance of mentoring in the stone and interior design industries, respectively. Then stylista Denise Hajjar, of the eponymous boutique, shared her insights from the fashion industry.

Before she took the mic, Paula Daher mentioned just how important mentoring has been to her as her career’s progressed. “It took me awhile to find [a mentor],” she said, “And in fact, I never thought I would. It’s men who tend to hold positions at the pinnacle level.” In response, she says that she feels even more compelled to mentor—in particular, women—now that she’s established herself.

Janice Dowling, another area designer and instructor at Boston Architectural College, agreed, and added that, “It doesn’t matter how far along in your career you are, or how old you are. There’s always something to learn. Be a sponge. Ask questions. Be curious.” Which just goes to show: mentors are needed at every stage of life.


About the Author

Karyn Polewaczyk is a freelance writer living in Boston and a staff reporter on personal finance for the Boston Globe.

[box]Bullying wears many disguises and it can cause a life time of ache. Bullies can be found just about anywhere—on the playground, at the dinner table, or even in the office. The harm can be physical or psychological. Today we feature Elayna Hasty, a rising humanitarian star. When we first met Elayna, she was only eleven years old, but she was already mentoring us on how to be confidentgenuinecompassionatesupportive. Elayna is the perfect example of a young woman living her life well. Girls against Bullying (G.A.B.) is her “anti-bullying” support page. Take a look at all she has done since we featured her last, all while managing a full-time schedule at school! [/box]

DSC_0221My name is Elayna Hasty and last year Over My Shoulder helped me by supporting me with my G.A.B. Girls. Girls Against Bullying was started three years ago, and G.A.B. Girls are girls that stand together against bullying. They know that they are uniquely beautiful, inside and out. I started G.A.B. for several reasons. Going into a new school, I was being bullied by kids, but I was also being bullied by and an adult. One of my best friends was also so having issues at her school—and those girls were so mean that she is now being home-schooled, and I hardly ever see her.

I went to my mom for help and advice.  She knew I was hurting and did what she could do to help. She told me to take the negatives and turn them into positives because, she said, every experience can be made into a positive learning experience.  It wasn’t easy, but she was right. I decided that I wanted to help others avoid being bullied and to support my friends, because that’s what friends do.

Mom and I came up with a facebook page and a website. I did a lot a lot of research on how I could help others by giving them support and advice, as well as sharing statics about bullying. I have also been writing to moms and their daughters who reach out to me for advice, and have been giving workshops whenever possible. My mom bought bracelets and t-shirts to help support G.A.B, and workshops help with costs for these projects.

Because of G.A.B. I have helped others and grown a lot in the process. I still believe “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.” I am now trying to help others have enough self-confidence not to be another bystander.

Last year, I was blessed to be part of Kids Are Heroes last year. My hometown paper also did an article and I was able to talk about G.A.B on a Christian radio station, on Super Girls Radio, on the Inspire Me Today site, and in BYOU Magazine. I am now also a mentor in school for kindergartners and help coach the youth team for competitive cheer. I am on a level three competitive cheer team and I feel good knowing that I can help younger girls not only with their cheering, leadership, and team-building skills. My work on G.A.B. has made me want to be a Pediatric Psychologist, so that as an adult I will be able to help girls stand against bullying and be a support system to those who need it. I had a great support system, but not everyone does.

Thanks to OMSF for supporting me. I am very grateful I have had people to pull me up when I was down!


When we build a mentoring relationship, the way we show up for the other person can empower them to find their voice or it can unintentionally stifle their authentic expression. What does it take to create a space where another person, an adult man or a teenage boy, can dig deep and speak their own truth without the fear of being judged or being “told what to do?” What does it mean to really be there for and with a teenage boy? What can we do to invite him to discover and become the man he wants to be?

The Boys to Men Mentoring Network, which offers group mentoring programs for boys ages 12 to 17, has devised a simple yet elegant communication model that is at the heart of the mentoring relationship. Mentors and teens are taught to communicate consciously, using a model called LAAMB: listen, accept, admire, model, and bless.

This model is in direct contrast to the FRAP style of relating to which many men are socialized: fix, rescue, advise (unsolicited), and project.

Because men are often taught they need to “have the answer,” or “solve the problem,” it may be hard to just sit and listen to a teenage boy speak about his experience, especially when some of his choices or decisions are problematic. Yet when a man feels a need to give unsolicited advice, tell the boy what to do, or respond from his own discomfort with the boy’s path through life, he inadvertently clips the boy’s wings.

By giving a boy the space to share his experience authentically, without judgment or interruption, by looking for positive behaviors or actions that he can appreciate, and by responding with advice or feedback only when asked, a mentor shows his faith in a boy’s ability to find his way and to access resources only when he needs them. The mentor then also models a kind of humility that is also important for a young man to experience. There is so much pressure to know, to fix, and to figure things out—seeing that we don’t always know, can’t always fix things, and don’t always need to figure things out, provides a healthy balance. More importantly, the kinds of “solutions” that come out of the FRAP model are not even what is needed some of the time. Being truly heard and seen can be a very powerful gift.

A beautiful feature of the LAAMB communication model is that, once you understand the principles, it can be done without great effort. Men can mentor simply by being with a teen, rather than what they do for them. Many men shy away from mentoring teens for fear that they won’t know what to do, preventing them from showing up and supporting boys who simply need their presence and personal connection.

While an entire course could be given on all the elements of LAAMB and FRAP, understanding these important principles provides a way to create safety and trust in any relationship.

Boys to Men New England is having its 3rd Annual Benefit Concert at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston on Sunday, April 13.  This year’s theme is “Building Community Through Mentoring.” Keynote speakers are Marty Martinez, Executive Director of the Mass Mentoring Partnership, as well as Victor Martinez and Carlos Cordero, Founders of Boys to Men Lawrence.  Headliners include Geoff Bartley, the godfather of folk, and jazz diva Tracy Clark. Performers include teens as well as adults. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased through: Donations of any amount are welcome. Checks payable to BTMNE can be sent to BTMNE c/o Linda Marks, 3 Central Avenue, Newton, MA 02460.  For more information contact Linda at 617-913-0683 or

[box]Linda Marks is Board Co-Chair of Boys to Men New England. A single mom, Linda found BTMNE 6 years ago as a resource for her then 12 year old son.[/box]


[box]OMSF is honored to work with young talented volunteers who are willing to share their experiences and thoughts on mentorship. Today I am particularly proud to feature a story written and designed by our new mentoring friend, Ali Shirazi. Ali is a senior at Northeast Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield, MA. He loves music and hopes someday to be a songwriter-producer. A connoisseur of iconic music talents, he also happens to be an expert on our the career of OMSF co-founder Patti Austin! We couldn’t survive without our altruistic volunteers—people who share their time, wisdom, and expertise to remind us all how much we need each other. Thank you so much, Ali, for sharing this story with us today!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]


OMSF Volunteer Ali Shirazi

OMSF Volunteer Ali Shirazi

Faces upon faces upon faces, all unique and all special in their own particular way. Nothing links these faces except for maybe a few things. They all share similar feelings: of excitement and assumed preparedness, ready to take on the next four years of their lives. They think all will soon be great and each day will be filled with excitement and pure splendor.

The thoughts, for some, are of hope for a NEW BEGINNING. They see the halls them with seemingly infinite doors, thinking hope should lie somewhere. The people around them seem intimidating or friendly. But another feeling they might have is a sense of fear. It’s the fear that keeps each person on edge, causing each step to shake more than the last. Despite the excitement and hope, underneath lies an ugliness. There lies a doubt about all their hopes:

“I’ll make FRIENDS, but, maybe I won’t”

“I’ll join football, but, maybe I’m NOT GOOD enough.

“I’ll join DRAMA, but, what’s if I get stage fright? Or, if I’ll even get on the stage…”

“I’ll get my voice out there for once, but, maybe NO ONE CARES. They never had before…”

Those are the few examples of the hopeful yet frightened thoughts that linger within the young minds.

I had volunteered to stand in front of a group of children with these same ideas—the “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” mindset—hoping I could change that, or at least make them feel less anxious. They sat in front of me, their many questions forming a whirlwind. I had to take on the persona of “Time”, to dissipate the tornadoes oncoming with question marks.

In my role as a Junior Mentor at Northeast Metro Tech, the goal was first to help students by easing them from anxiety into more positive thoughts, from fear to pure excitement. I was also expected to ensure they know all the rules and customs of the school, and answer routine related questions. Lastly, optional yet expected, was to be there for my assigned freshmen, or any freshmen that looked like they needed help. Sometimes, just say hi to them to let them feel welcomed. Not just welcomed to the school, but even welcomed by you, a peer. And I had done just that, exchanging greetings with them and asking them if they need help. They’d smile and say hi and how are you. Then, usually, they’d tell me they’re doing fine or they’d ask a quick question.

There are a few instances in which I felt proud, not so much of myself, but of them. One of the girls I mentored came to me during lunch—she asked to sit with me and I said, of course!—and she began telling me how her year went by so far and how well she’s been doing. I was glad that she felt comfortable enough to tell me, that she knew I would listen—it was very brave of her. In another instance, I greeted a boy in the hallway as usual and then he said, “Guess what?” He told me about getting into the shop class he was excited to take and about signing up for sports, that he’s keeping up his grades and he loves the school so far.

I’m happy I got to help some kids with their transition into high school. When I was a freshman, I needed a guide. The teachers stood around and offered direction, but that was about it. However, a senior girl I was already friends with offered me a place to sit at lunch as well as her advice. She introduced me to one of her friends as well. I was lucky to have had a mentor. I appreciated that more than anything, and now I’m glad I got to do it for a new class of students. To greet the minds filled with questions and the “maybe I will and maybe I wont’s” to see them filled with answers and to hear them say, “I know I will.”


OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll and WBZ host Jordan Rich

As a mentor collector, I am naturally surrounded by experts, and every day the OMSF journey introduces me to exquisite , committed individuals, who dedicate their energy to making the world a better place. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a Boston Icon named Jordan Rich at a dazzling Boston music mentoring night. OMSF was giving a life-time achievement award for promoter Fred Taylor, who has been mentoring in the Boston Music scene for many years. The award ceremony was organized by the fabulous Linda Marks, whom I met when she wrote her magnificent mentoring story for last years Father’s Day, and Jordon Rich was presenting the award to Taylor. I was thrilled when, a few weeks later, Jordan invited me to be a guest on his radio show at the WBZ Studios in Boston.

It was a thought-provoking experience . New ideas were stirring around in my head like a New England Blizzard. As soon as I got home I emailed Jordan to ask if we could bring all the OMSF stories and heroes to his prestigious show: and to my total delight, he said yes!

I am very pleased to announce that OMSF’s mentoring stories—the ones you find right here on our Web site—will also be featured regularly on Jordan Rich’s show. We are so very grateful for this new collaboration, and will be posting the radio interviews on our site. Jordan has interviewed many film, TV, Music stars over the years, and his eclectic show spotlights the whole range of human experience: arts, history, health, sports, politics and now mentoring! Not only that, but Jordan is also mentoring me as I fine tune my radio production skills, and he has graciously offered me the role of Associate Producer, overseeing these mighty mentoring interviews!

Get ready to tune in to the Jordan Rich–OMSF mentoring story of the week!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF executive Director

[box]Without positive influences, we become lost, both as individuals and as a society. That’s why our dedicated team searches for stories of people who use their talents to fuel greater confidence, self-esteem and self-worth in others. We look for exquisite examples of individuals who are moving us all towards a society of greater inclusion. The heart of the OMSF mission is to find a cure for hopelessness, and we believe that mentoring can help solve many personal and social issues.

Today, Marissa Ranahan introduces us to a vibrant new artist, Gemini Wired, who wrote this amazing song to stand up to bullying. Haters be gone. Let this song and all the stories we publish inspire you to get involved with mentoring. One simple way is to share the mentoring stories we write each week with all your friends—you never know how a story might inspire someone else. If we feed creative minds, they just might discover solutions to the many problems we face in this world.

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Director


“If you can dream it, you can achieve it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I listened to people who didn’t want to see me prosper.”

We all have dreams. They might be to inspire, to educate, or simply to do well in this life. At Over My Shoulder, we believe in dreams, and in the unique combination of music and mentorship. Kristian Bryant of Brockton, MA, also known as Gemini Wired, dreamed of being a talented musician; recently, merging that dream with a powerful message has inspired thousands.

When I cought Kristian’s music video, “What Now,” I was entranced by her anti-bullying lyrics. The song’s focus is on overcoming the negativity that’s so often thrown at the younger generation. In her own words, she explains her inspiration behind the video “What Now”:

“I want my ‘What Now’ video to inspire as many people as possible. There are kids who have so much to offer and do not know it because they want to hide their talents or intelligence. I don’t want them to be ashamed anymore. I want them to know people like myself and these organizations have their backs. What now!”

The video, which was posted just a few months ago, in fall 2013, has already exceeded over 30,000 views. “I plan on bringing awareness to bullying through my music but also sharing my message to many kids.” Kristian hopes that the sing will give hope and strength to the victims of bullying. She will be visiting schools in the New England area over the coming year, sharing her video and encouraging children to support one another.

“When young people are busy being positive and supportive, you see less cases of (kids) being bullied. I feel compelled to spread the message.”

So, who are her mentors? She described her family as her “greatest” inspiration, constantly providing Kristian with their support and encouragement. “Everything I do is for them (her family).” She also cited her musical support, the production team Lyve City: “They were kind of that missing piece to my puzzle,” she said.

Kristian has been passionate about music from a young age, when she formed a small, short-lived all-girls group. In college she gained knowledge about “producing music, writing music, and beginning to record my own songs.”

Music with a powerful message has the ability to touch us all. Kristian has done an incredible job of inspiring others through her musical ability. With her talent, she’s spreading a positive message of hope. In her unique song, the essence of music and mentoring come full-circle. With inspirational songs like these, mentorship through music becomes a reality.

At Over My Shoulder, we thank Kristian Bryant for her positive messages through music, and all those who continue to write inspirational pieces for all ears to hear.

Marissa Ranahan, OMSF Team Member

How I Became a Mentor Collector


Dawn Carroll, OMSF Director

Before I had ever reflected on the word mentor, I knew that it was essential to find people who could help me realize my dreams and career goals. Most the things I wanted to do in life didn’t have schools, so I searched for people who were doing interesting things and tried to work with them. One of the first mentors I collected was Boston fashion icon Yolanda. I wanted to produce shows, and her legendary fashion shows were irresistible.

For the glamorous couture world of Yolanda, I must have seemed rough around the edges. I remember being terrified during the job interview: I lacked the tools, I did not have a fancy wardrobe, I was not particularly elegant, I had no experience. Simply put, I was not an ideal candidate for her team. But Yolanda took me in anyway and I soaked in everything I could about how this entrepreneurial wizard created her empire.

Then I took off to Hollywood. I didn’t know a soul, so I called around to the big entertainment companies and found a sympathetic ear. Marcie Rondon gave me a chance as an intern for Mitch Schneider, a powerful agent in the music world. I interned with them for six weeks, and it launched my entire career.

Years later, as I reflect on mentors and mentorship, I realize that I have been collecting mentors all my life. They’ve helped me achieve my life goals, helped me become a better person, and shaped the course of my career. That’s one reason I co-founded Over My Shoulder: to inspire others to collect mentors, and to be a mentor. “One less hopeless person” has become my personal mantra. Nothing is more dangerous in this life than a lack of hope, but mentoring can keep hope alive.

Who do you admire? Who do you want to emulate?  If you know who or what you want to be, find someone who is already living your dreams. This is how I found Alex and Ani, and why I immediately added them to my personal mentor collection. As National Mentoring Month comes to an end we hope the stories we feature have inspired you to think more about mentoring.

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Director

Why Should You Become a Mentor?

David Shapiro and Dawn Carroll

David Shapiro and Dawn Carroll

One of my earliest and most-treasured mentors is David Shapiro CEO of Mentor, “the unifying champion for expanding quality youth mentoring relationships in the United States.” I asked him to offer some reasons for becoming a mentor. Here’s what he told me:

“Currently, 1 in 3 young people reach age 19 without a mentor of any kind. Absent this critical guidance and support, an extraordinary amount is left to chance—and we are too often losing these children to hardship and hopelessness. It has been proven that young people with mentors both aspire to and reach college at a higher rate. They also have better self-esteem and they make better, more productive decisions.

“The more risk factors in a young person’s life, the less likely they are to connect to mentors ‘naturally.’ With such a powerful tool in our midst to improve the lives of young people, we have a responsibility to actively engage with them. We have to learn to notice the signs that a young person needs support and use what we know about quality mentoring to create and support them.

“It is for these reasons that Mentor was founded, more than twenty years ago. It has expanded from helping 300,000 young people in mentoring programs then, to helping 4.5 million today. It is our privilege to work to inform, connect, and fuel the mentoring movement in America—whether through the National Mentoring Month campaign in January, the National Mentoring Summit, our work on advocacy and policy to advance integration and support for mentoring, or our work to help get practitioners the best information from researchers to make their programs of the highest quality.”

As we celebrate National Mentoring Month, I hope you will share in the mentoring spirit. Consider making mentorship a part of your life. Mentoring shatters barriers that separate generations of people and cultures. Mentoring fosters respect, diversity, culture, and individuality. Mentoring develops the talent of our youth, who will then have the leadership skills to amend our social and economic woes.

This is the essence of Mentorology. We hope that you will become a mentorologist too, and help spread the good word of mentoring!

—Dawn Caroll, Over My Shoulder Director

[box]Recently, I was invited to write a guest post for the blog of Alex & Ani, a company that “offers eco-friendly, positive energy products that adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit.” It was thrilling to be able to highlight the importance of mentorship for their community. Here is the complete text of the post, which you can also find at the Alex & Ani website.

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Director[/box]

Picture 1A few years ago I was asked to help write a song for a very talented thirteen year old to sing with her mentor, singing legend Patti Austin. The challenge was to find subject matter that was both appropriate and authentic, something teenagers and adults could relate to. I was given a musical formula by the managers: take a base of Taylor Swift, blend it with Adele, and decorate it with some Carly Simon – with that, I was supposed to cook up a delicious song with multi-generational appeal.

Initially, I laughed about the assignment. It was like being asked to write the spell that turns lead into gold. I said to myself, “If I can write that story/song, I could retire tomorrow!” However, I enjoy a daunting task and attacked it with relish. At the time I happened to be with my niece, Meghan, so I asked her to help me. Together, we came up with many ideas in just a few hours, but there was one idea that kept me up that night.

When I was trying to make it big in Hollywood, I was working for a music management company. They represented, among others, New Kids on the Block (hey, they were pretty big at the time!) as well as singing legend Patti Austin. One time, Patti was asked to describe the recipe of her own success. She simply replied, “Mentors.”

That word kept coming back to me as I was working on this new song. I have jokingly told people that it only took 15 minutes to write a duet for Patti to sing with this young lady, but truth be told, the song had been marinating inside me for more than two decades. That’s how I came to write “Over My Shoulder.” The message of the song is simple: two voices, two generations, each one inspired by, supportive of, and paying tribute to the other.

This was the very first song I ever wrote, and at 48 years old, it was also a lifelong dream come true. The song was a hit! It initiated vibrant conversations amongst powerful leaders both young and old, and something stirred inside me as well. Jimi Hendrix, my musical hero, once said, “If there is something to be changed in the world, it can only be done through music.” I felt that I could create music, tell stories and produce events that could spotlight mentorship, to promote positive change in the world by encouraging people to care for each other.

I believe that there is nothing more dangerous than hopelessness. Mentoring is our most powerful weapon in the fight against it as well as poverty, ignorance, and hatred. We all need to become life-navigators and be open to them. It is up to all of us to design the next generation, to instill hope into the future. Without it, we become disconnected as individuals and lost as a society.

The Alex and Ani story is a perfect example of the power of mentorship. Like many of you, I gravitated to its positive energy and ethos of continuity, “inspired by the wisdom of ancient thinkers,” as the company’s biography reads. I discovered that Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder and Creative Director, created Alex and Ani to carry her family’s legacy forward, to fulfill the vision of her father. She did this not only for its own sake (and all of ours!), but for her daughters’ as well.

The Alex and Ani mission is mentorship writ large: history and values being passed across three generations and likely more to come. Mentoring truly is a life force without which none of us can thrive. It helps the next generation take over and succeed. It allows the spiritual side of passion to flourish and let a living history be passed on.

I cofounded the Over My Shoulder Foundation to shed light on these important examples of mentorship in music, design, and elsewhere. As Executive Director of OMSF, having collected dozens of stories like this, I have come to learn how important mentoring is to people. It spans across age, class and race, defying innumerable social divisions. Mentoring is a healing and hopeful force that reconnects the disconnected. Mentoring stimulates creative thinking, and it will be creative minds that will move us all toward a society of greater inclusion, integrity and value.


[box]So far, 2014 has been an exciting year for the Over My Shoulder Foundation. We discovered some amazing people who have agreed to share a little of their wisdom. We have stumbled upon dynamic examples of how easy mentoring can be—and seen how quickly you can change a life. A few weeks ago OMSF writer Larry Katz snagged an interview with Stanley Roberts, the reporter who reunited international music star Carlos Santana with his homeless former band mate. That story gets bigger every day (watch parts 1, 2, and 3). Last week, I got the opportunity to write a story for the amazing jewelry company, Alex and Ani, whose fantastic mantra is “Inspired by the Wisdom of Ancient Thinkers.”

Today we have an interview with Kim Taylor, who was recently appointed to serve as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker, Anna Wintour, Yo-Yo Ma, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kerry Washington, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz.

We hope you’ll be inspired by these stories. Mentoring is a life-force we cannot live without. These positive influences in our lives stop us from becoming disconnected as individuals and as a society. So, in the words of President Barack Obama: “Be the change. Mentor a child.” [/box]


James Taylor and his wife Kim Smedvig © Rubenstein, photographer Martyna Borkowski

James Taylor and his wife Kim Smedvig Taylor
© Rubenstein, photographer Martyna Borkowski

Kim Taylor received a most unexpected phone call last spring. It came from the White House. And, no, they weren’t trying to reach her rather well-known husband, musician James Taylor.

They were calling to ask her to serve as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities alongside the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker, Anna Wintour, Yo-Yo Ma, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kerry Washington and Secretary of State John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz.

“It really was a surprise,” Taylor said from her home in the Berkshires. “It was out of the blue. Of course I said yes.”

Taylor expects her new position will offer opportunities to promote arts educations in schools across the United States, a mission, she says, “that’s very near and dear to my heart from all my years at the BSO.” Her relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra began 30 years ago, when Taylor worked in the orchestra’s publicity office, and continues today as a trustee and board member.

Taylor still isn’t sure what she will be asked to do as a member of the President’s Committee. She missed her first meeting, but she had an impeccable excuse.

“It was just so frustrating that the meeting was on November 22,” she explained, “the one day James and I had committed to being in Boston to perform at the Kennedy Library. It was a hard decision.”

On that day the Taylors performed at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As she has done for some fifteen years now, Kim added background harmonies to James’s performance. “We sang ‘Close Your Eyes,’ that beautiful lullaby, which we did as a duet, just the two of us.”

Does Taylor, who married in 2001, consider her husband her mentor as a singer?

“Yes,” she said laughing, “without question. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but basically I was classically trained and it is very different to get up and sing in an arena with thousands of people.

“I grew up in a very musical family. My grandmother, who was born in 1891, was a trained opera singer. Her name was Portia Fitzsimons. She was a huge influence on me. She had a beautiful voice. She gave up her career when she had my mother, who also had an incredible voice, but never pursued her career, to have me. I just wish they were still here to see me. Not that I have a great singing career, I don’t mean to imply that. But I’ve been really lucky to be able to experience that. It’s such a wonderful outlet.

“I used to sing in the glee club and school choruses. After I went to work with the BSO, the highpoint of the year for me was if I could sing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus at Christmas Pops. In fact, I just sang with them last week with Keith Lockhart. It’s the greatest thrill to be onstage with that chorus and that orchestra. So much fun.”

How did she make the jump from singing in a large chorus to performing on tour with James Taylor, one of the preeminent singer/songwriters of our time?

“We started very slowly. James heard me singing around the house or something. Then he was in the studio in New York with Russ Titelman, his producer, and he asked me if I could sing a harmony so he could just hear how it sounded. He tricked me! He didn’t tell me he wanted to use it or I probably would have been really nervous. When Russ said they were going to use it I said, ‘No way, that’s crazy!  Let me re-do it.’ But Russ said, ‘No, it’s great.’

“From there it just evolved. It started with James saying, ‘Why don’t you sing the encore?’—‘Shower the People’ or ‘How Sweet It Is.’ And it was so much fun working with his backup singers, Kate Markowitz and Arnold McCuller. They were so patient. It taught me so much.”

In recent years Taylor has rediscovered another artistic passion: acting.

“I’ve always loved it,” she said. “I acted as a child, in high school, and some in college. It’s something that’s been with me for a long time. But in my years at the BSO I didn’t really have the time to audition. Now my life is different. About four years ago I was able to audition for ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. I went mainly because our children—we have twin boys—they were eight then and they wanted to do it. They were auditioning for Tiny Tim and the young Ebenezer Scrooge.

“Much to my surprise the director asked me to read for Mrs. Cratchit. I was not expecting to audition. I had to do a Cockney accent on the spot. You know the Alastair Sim’s (1951 film) version? I tried to conjure that and much to my surprise, and terror, I was cast as Mrs. Cratchit. And there were 22 shows that year at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. The next year we moved to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, which is a beautiful facility, and because it has a greater capacity we could do fewer shows.

“Then the artistic director, Kate McGuire, asked if I wanted to audition for this piece based on one of Edith Wharton’s short stories, ‘Roman Fever.’ We performed that this fall as part of this fall festival in the Berkshires. It was directed by Keira Naughton, the daughter of the actor James Naughton. She was fantastic to work with.”

Taylor did not hesitate when asked if she had an acting mentor in her life.

“Yes. Absolutely. I went to the Albany Academy for Girls. I had an incredible theatre teacher there, Margery Van Aernum. I studied with her from when I was nine to 17. I think it’s a very hard age to work with kids. I think like most kids that age it was difficult to get me to focus. But she treated us like professionals. Like adults. She had very high expectations.”

Without doubt Taylor will bring an unusual combination of experience and perspective to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, whatever her role.

“I’d love to tell you more about it when I find out more about what I’ll be doing,” she said.

And we will look forward to hearing about it.


About the author
Former Boston Herald columnist and editor Larry Katz has covered music and the arts for more than 30 years. Visit his website, thekatztapes.comContact him at


[box]“I did not know where my life would go…” That’s one of the lyrics from the song that inspired this foundation, “Over My Shoulder.” It happens to be one that I did not write—but I love it the most! Most of us think we know exactly where we are going and then… a surprise comes along and before you know it, you’re in the middle of a mesmerizing experience you never saw coming.

Today we feature a story on reporter Stanley Roberts, who was investigating a story when, out of the blue, his whole life changed. He had stumbled upon something breathtaking. Then his small town story shot around the world and he had everyone, from CNN reporters to people like me, chasing him down to learn more.

Stanley had re-connected two former best friends—international Rock Star Carlos Santana and Marcus the Magnificent, his brilliant but homeless band mate. The powerful mentor-centric energy in this story blew my mind. I wanted to know—why did Stanley pursue this story? What did he hear in the tale of Marcus the Magnificent that so inspired him?

You’ve probably seen the moment when Stanley reconnects Carlos Santana with his old best friend. We wanted to tell you more about Stanley, who took it upon himself to assemble a team to help a person in need of hope and restoration.

It’s the first week of a new year, also the beginning of National Mentoring Month. So I entreat you to adopt a simple habit, to be a little more like Stanley: when you see a new person, ask yourself, “What do I see that this person can be?” I call this habit of mind “Designing the Next Generation.”

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Director



Stanley Roberts

Stanley Roberts

As the TV newsman responsible for “People Behaving Badly,” a nightly feature on KRON 4 in San Francisco, Stanley Roberts has been called a lot of names, most of them not very nice. So he’s amazed that many people, including rock star Carlos Santana, are now calling him “an angel from God.”

A week before Christmas, Roberts played the pivotal part in reuniting Carlos and his long-forgotten percussionist, Marcus “The Magnificent” Malone. The two had not seen one another in forty-five years. The touching story of this unlikely reunion first aired on KRON and quickly spread around the globe.

Roberts encountered Malone by chance. He was homeless, reduced to picking through the trash, and claimed in a televised segment that he was a founding member of the world-renowned Santana band. That might have been the end of the story—but Carlos Santana happened to catch the segment. Santana reached out to Roberts to help him reconnect with his old bandmate. Now the two are actively involved in getting Malone off the streets and back on stage.

Two days before the start of the new year, we spoke to Roberts by phone from his Bay Area home. Still absorbing the ramifications of what has turned into the biggest story of his life, Roberts graciously shared his experience.

“I used to be a photographer, a regular cameraman,” he said. “Then our company got purchased by another company and they decided to change us into something they call ‘video journalists.’ Basically I started doing everything myself, writing and editing. The acting news director told me, ‘Go out and do POV,’ point of view journalism, where you go out and see what’s going on and talk about it. I said, ‘I have a better idea. I want to go out and look at what people are doing that they shouldn’t be doing. We could call it People Behaving Badly.’

“We went out and did the first one and phones rang off the hook. We got an incredible response. It drew people’s attention. It was about public urination. We watched people buying alcohol—and when they got drunk, because there are no rest rooms downtown around Market Street, they would pee and poop anywhere they wanted to, in broad daylight. Basically I just showed that. It was the grittiness of what was actually going on there, that no one wants to talk about, and I talked about it. So that was the first segment. That was eight years ago. The segment got so popular that now I actually turn a story every single day, except when I’m off.”

Roberts doesn’t go after big time criminals or expose major scandals. People Behaving Badly is about what he calls “quality of life issues.” Texting while driving. Bicyclists running stop signs. Drinking alcohol in city parks. Littering. Viewers love seeing transgressors caught in the act—and not just in the Bay Area. Roberts has more than 1,200 videos on YouTube, which have attracted close to 10 million views.

Of course not everyone is a fan of his brand of “gotcha journalism.”

“I get a lot of hate mail,” Roberts said. “A lot of people don’t want to know what’s going on, don’t want to know the truth. I get accused of picking on the homeless, of picking on dog owners, cat owners, home owners. I get death threats. It’s amazing. I was not used to it. I was always the guy with the camera while the reporter gets the fame and the glory. Then I had an idea eight years ago and it changed everything. It flipped my world upside down.”

Now Roberts’ world has flipped again because of Marcus Malone and Carlos Santana.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’m a devil one day and then all of a sudden the biggest rock star outside of the Rolling Stones is calling me an angel. Carlos told me, ‘You were sent by God. You’re an angel from God.’ I told my assignment desk what he said and they just laughed. They made fun of me. I’ve been called a few other things like asshole and the N-word, but never an angel.”

December 9 started out like any other workday for Roberts. He decided to go out to a dicey area of East Oakland to look for illegal trash dumpers. He found plenty of trash, but no dumpers, just an elderly man rummaging through the discarded junk.

“Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction,” Roberts said. “First of all, I don’t normally talk to somebody randomly digging through the trash. That was an anomaly. I just wanted to get shots of him going through all the garbage on that street and then go back to the office and get the story done. What made me speak to him was that I’d already asked some of the businesses on that street what was some of the strangest things they’d seen dumped out here. Couches. Marijuana. Dead dogs. I asked Marcus, ‘What did you find today.’ He says, ‘Nothing. But I’ve found jewelry. And money. Once I found 800 dollars in an old pair of jeans. Eight one hundred dollar bills.’ And I go, ‘What did you do with the money?’ I thought he probably smoked it or something. You tend to think if you’re homeless or something you probably got there because of drug use or alcohol or something like that. That’s what’s going through my mind. But then he says, ‘I bought some tools because I’m a landscaper.’ I’m thinking, ‘Okay, but how many landscapers are digging through the trash?’ Then he says, ‘I bought some supplies, some paper, because I’m a composer and I write music. My name is Marcus Malone.’

“It didn’t mean a thing to me. And then he says, ‘I used to play in the original Santana Blues Band.’ I never heard of the Santana Blues Band, I just heard it called Santana. I said, ‘Blues Band? Some band like Santana?’ And he said, ‘No, Santana. Carlos Santana. I was an original member of the band. We started it in my mom’s garage.’

“I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a tall story.’ I said, ‘If I go look it up will I find your name, that you played with Carlos Santana?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, you will. But I messed up everything. I messed up my life. I went to jail and ruined my life forever.’ He said it really low, whispered it. And he walked away. The interview was pretty much over but I went up to him one more time. He was still looking through trash, but he was singing ‘Black Magic Woman.’ I laughed. I thought, ‘Okay, now he’s just performing for me. But I’m going to go back and check on his story anyway.”


Marcus Malone

Marcus Malone

Call it instinct or intuition, but Roberts aired the segment of Malone talking about Santana, even though it had nothing to do with the subject of the story.

“Typically at KRON we keep our stories uber-focused,” Roberts said. “My story should have been about illegal dumping and nothing else. I should have just mentioned that this guy once found some money. But I decided to keep him in the story. One of the editors came to me and said, ‘The story is good but you kind of went off course with this guy.’ And I go, ‘No, the fact is that when I did some research, his name did pop up with Santana, so I decided to keep it in.’ I figured if my bosses chew me out the next day, well, it’s already out there. You can’t un-ring a bell. So that bell was rung. If he was nobody, then he was nobody.”

But there was another concern. In his research, Roberts discovered what Malone had meant when he said, “I messed up my life.” In 1969 Malone was convicted of manslaughter. He served three years in San Quentin.

“I spoke to our assistant news director after the story aired,” Roberts said, “and I said, ‘If this guy is who he is this could be something big.’ She said, ‘Yeah, but he killed somebody.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but it looks like it was a fight. He didn’t go out there trying to kill somebody. It appears that a fight broke out and somebody died. It was unintended. But if you don’t think it’s a big story, then I’m not going to worry about it.

“To be honest with you I had no idea of the magnitude of what was going to happen. No clue whatsoever. I was not prepared for it. Nine days later I get a Facebook message on my fan page, which I don’t check that often. It says, ‘Hi, I’m Kathy, manager of Carlos Santana.’ I’m thinking she’s going to say this guy Marcus was not with the band and never has been. But then she says Carlos has been driving around 90th and Pearmain trying to find Marcus. My mouth hit the ground. I jumped up and ran to the assignment desk and said, ‘Hey look at what I just got.’

“It was a Thursday night and the assignment desk wanted me to talk to Santana on the spot. Now I’m a huge fan. I love his music. And they’re saying see if you can go out there with him and look for Marcus. Now here’s where it got interesting. The next day we called Carlos and he said, ‘Well, I’m busy right now, it’s getting close to the holidays. Can I do it on the 23rd?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m going on vacation in two weeks and I won’t be here. But if you want to do it today, I can.’ He said, ‘I’ll tell you what. I’ll meet you at 2 o’clock today in Sausalito and we’ll go looking for Marcus together.’

“I told my news director that I’m going to drive out to Oakland and look for Marcus. Now we’re not allowed to go out without security. He said, ‘Don’t you get out of your car. Just drive around and see if you can spot this guy.’ Because we’ve been robbed. They’ve been robbing photographers and reporters. Oakland is crazy dangerous right now. So I jump in my car and drive over there. I’m looking for a guy with a beard riding a red bike.

“Well, there are bikes everywhere. Everyone is on a bike. I decided to do what every journalist would do: ask someone. There are two guys sitting out there and I say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for someone named Marcus Malone.’ First thing they say is, ‘Oh, what did he do? You the police?’ I said, ‘He didn’t do anything. I want to find him and give him something.’ They said, ‘We don’t know who he is.’ That’s the standard response. Then one of them says, ‘You mean the little guy who rides around on a bicycle, the old guy? There’s a camper around the corner he lives in.’ I said, ‘Camper? What camper?’ He said, ‘Trust me, you won’t miss it.’

“I turned the corner and there’s an old camper parked on a dirt sidewalk with an abandoned house next to it. There was a red bicycle chained to the bumper. I bang on the door and yell ‘Marcus!’ but there’s no answer. So I take a couple of pictures with my phone and call back my desk and say, ‘I think I’ve found Marcus. I’m going to hang out for a little bit.’ So I’m sitting and watching, and also watching that no one is going to roll up on me while I’m sitting there. I decided to take out a business card. I write, ‘Be here at 3 o’clock.’ That’s all I said. I stuck it on the door and waited a little more. Then a guy walks by and I said, ‘Hey, quick question. Who’s camper is this?’ He goes, ‘Oh, that’s Marcus’s camper.’ Then he looks at me and goes, ‘Hey, you’re that guy! The people who act badly dude! You put Marcus on TV. Y’know, he’s the real deal.’ I said, ‘Okay, if you see him tell him Stanley was here from Channel 4 and I have something to give him at 3 o’clock.’ I wasn’t going to say I’m bringing Carlos Santana back here. That would have been like setting a fire in timberland. Everyone would have been out there.

“So I go drive from Oakland to where Carlos is in Sausalito. That’s like driving between two different worlds. Well, Carlos is late. Then we get stuck in traffic. I had told our security officer, a retired cop, to meet me at the camper and stake it out. He called and said, ‘I’m at the camper, the door’s open and there’s another bike there.’ I said, “If you see him come out, detain him.’ He laughed and said, ‘I am not detaining anyone, I’m not a cop anymore.’ I said, ‘Just don’t let him leave.’ When we got to the camper I looked at my clock and it was 3:39.


Carlos Santana and Marcus Malone

Carlos Santana and Marcus Malone

“I knocked on the door with Carlos and the security officer watching. Marcus came out and I said, ‘Man, you are the real deal. So I’m back, like I told you.’ He said, ‘Man, I don’t remember your name.’ Now when I do my segments it’s not about me. It’s about the world around me and what’s going on. This story wasn’t about me. I’m about to introduce Marcus to Carlos Santana. I said, ‘Dude, my name is not important right now, your name is what’s important.’ I got a lot of hate comments about that, people saying that I was being a douche bag for not telling him my name and that I was being disrespectful. On the other hand, I also got comments saying it showed that I’m not the kind of person who’s out there for fame and glory. Honestly, I just wanted the moment of him walking to the car and he sees Carlos’s face and Carlos sees his face. I just wanted to cry. I’m laughing, but it’s laughter that they’re finally seeing each other after all these years.

“Carlos handed him $7,000 in cash. I didn’t put that in my story because they would have run up to him the next night if they knew Carlos had handed him that cash. I thought it was a bad idea, but it is what it is. You can’t tell Carlos don’t give this guy seven grand in cash because who knows what will happen.

“I called the station and told them that they met. The station went ape-shit. Oh my god! When I came back with the video there was huge applause in the newsroom from all my coworkers that I had got this. Then it was, ‘You need to do this, you need to do that.’ But I’m thinking, ‘I need to get to work and write the damn segment because I’m off at six and I’m going on vacation.’ But they wanted me live on set at 8 o’clock. Now I do live stuff rarely, and never on prime time. I’m not a big front-of-the-camera guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do it—but it was my last day of work before my vacation and I wanted to get out of there and do my thing. But I’m there until 8:30. And I have to drive to Los Angeles the next morning because I can’t afford to fly.

“So the story aired and there was not a dry eye in the place. But the magnitude of what took place didn’t dawn on me until I got a phone call from CNN saying ‘We want to put you on air.’ I said, ‘For what? I didn’t do nothing.’ I said, ‘I’ll be in L.A. tomorrow if you want to talk to me. So I talked to them and Inside Edition and did some radio. And now I’m talking to you.”

Roberts’ chance meeting with Malone resulted in the biggest story of his career. But this is just the beginning of Roberts’s relationship with Malone. He is committed to acting as Malone’s guide to a better life.

“We’re doing everything we can to help him,” Roberts said. “I told him, ‘I’m in it for the long haul and we’re going to get you back on your feet. The problem is he wants to move, but old habits are hard to break. Carlos called me. He basically designated me on the spot and I am here to help Marcus get back on track. So I’ve embraced that, even though I still have to figure out how to pay my own bills.

“I created People Behaving Badly not knowing it would lead to this. It’s me going out every day, trying to make ends meet, doing these segments, getting hate mail from people, getting death threats, being told by the police to change my habits so that people don’t follow me home. I’m like, ‘Is this really worth it?’ But I guess it is, when you find people like Marcus. This was a diamond in the rough—who now we have to shine. Because he’s really rough. Between me and Carlos Santana, we’re going to shine that diamond and try to bring out the stone that was covered in soot. We want to get him back on the stage playing. And if he’s on the stage I want to be in the front row. I’ll be bawling out of control.”


About the author
Former Boston Herald columnist and editor Larry Katz has covered music and the arts for more than 30 years. Visit his website, thekatztapes.comContact him at

A song gave birth to Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Now Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) is giving birth to a new song.

Four years after Patti Austin’s recording with then–13-year-old Lianna Gutierrez of “Over My Shoulder” led to the creation of a foundation to spread the gospel of mentoring, OMSF is on the verge of a new release. Get ready for “Half Filled Tear.”

“It’s about saving lives from a lifestyle of repeated violence,” said Dawn Carroll, who co-wrote “Half Filled Tear” with Boston rock legend Jon Butcher and Gidon the Mighty Warrior, a rap artist and social activist from Austin, Texas. “The lyrics were written to relate the victim’s anger and show that repeated violence is not the way.”On the first Saturday in November, Carroll and Butcher went into Q Division Studios in Somerville to record the final vocal tracks of “Half Filled Tear” with the dynamic singer/rapper Shea Rose and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Adding to the occasion was the presence of teenaged filmmakers and photographers from Wakefield, who came to document the session for a forthcoming “making of” video.

The story of “Half Filled Tear” starts back in 2009, when Carroll was brainstorming ideas for songs that would work as a duets by older mentors and younger mentees. The reaction to that song, “Over My Shoulder,” was so positive that Austin and Carroll followed up by creatingOMSF, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of mentoring. Carroll’s unused song ideas were put aside, but not forgotten.

“‘Half Filled Tear’ was one of the songs I had,” Carroll said. “I wanted to tackle the touchy, tricky subjects. I wanted to write songs and Drawing on experiences from her own life and those of the youngsters she was meeting through OMSF, Carroll decided the time was right to complete “Half Filled Tear.”create music that inspired listeners to stop the cycle of hopelessness: ‘One less tragedy’ was my mantra. I believe you can write music and create anthems that bolster self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem. I believe that music can deflect some of the craziness you see on the news every night and help people focus on solving individual as well as social issues.”

“This one is a personal story,” she said. “Someone very close to me was murdered at a very young age. I went through this experience. When I started getting more involved with kids through the foundation, and we started working in the city, I heard so many stories about brutal murders. I went through just one, and I never got over it—these kids had gone through multiple traumas with little support. I could see and relate to the delicate emotional state, I knew how easy it is to become lost when dealing with this type of anger and pain. You just never get over the loss and dealing with the anger is a constant struggle. It’s a blinding blizzard of emotions that follow you after someone you love has been taken from you, violently, and that post-traumatic stress is hard to deal with.”

“Then I learned about the tattoo, usually used in gangs: the half-filled tear, carved onto someone’s face. It tells the world that someone has been violently taken from you, and that you seek revenge—and when the revenge is satisfied, the tear tattoo is colored in. This image really freaked me out. I was desperate to write the song and just prayed it would be powerful enough to stop even one future murder. Music can arouse great introspection and activism, it can inject hope into a life like nothing else.”

OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll with Jon Butcher

Carroll shared her idea for the song with Jon Butcher, who not only agreed to co-write and co-produce it, but to sing, play guitar, and engineer the song too.

“It really affected me,” Butcher said, “so I wanted to shepherd it the whole way. I was really keen to produce it and that’s what happened. To me, that image of the ‘Half Filled Tear’ symbolized how pervasive violence is in the country we live in. We have a romantic relationship to violence. And that relationship is a love-hate relationship—how we portray it in the culture, how it manifests itself in our kids and the media. That was a big subject to me.”

While working on the lyrics, Carroll and Butcher decided to add a hip hop element to try and reach a wider audience. Their search for a collaborator led them to Gidon the Mighty Warrior (real name: Christopher Ockletree), one of the founders of The Cipher, an Austin hip hop collective dedicated to uniting youth through music, poetry, and activism.

Carroll and Butcher got more than they expected from Gidon. A lot more.

“We got on a conference call with Gidon and told him the concept of the song,” Carroll said. “I told him if he needed to change any of the words, that he should feel free, and nobody would be insulted. Well he did. He rewrote the entire thing! I think there’s one of my lines left,” Carroll laughed. “He did a brilliant job. Gidon had also lost someone to a violent crime, so he knew exactly what emotions to tap into. Now it’s more his song than anybody’s. The whole rap is his.”

Dawn Carroll and the Boston Children’s Choir

They had the rap. They had the chorus. Finally, they added the voice: Shea Rose and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Their vision was complete. “Half Filled Tear” is a song that finds hope and inspiration in the depths of despair.

“I feel like the song does two things,” Rose said as she prepared to record her vocals at Q Division Studios. “It’s inspirational. And at the same time, it tells of the agony and pain that is going on in society. So it has that dark part, especially in the rap verses, but there’s also a feeling of hope in the chorus.”

Hope is exactly what “Half Filled Tear” is intended to provide, especially to those whose lives have been damaged by violence.

“When you’re struggling with feelings of revenge, you need hope. You can’t get over the shock because the crime has entered your life and left you with an emptiness and with so many questions,” Carroll said. “You need somebody to tell you, and show you, how to channel that energy, otherwise you’ll be a prisoner of it your whole life.”

Carroll expects OMSF to unveil both “Half Filled Tear” and the “making of” video in January—which, not coincidentally, is also National Mentoring Month.

“What we tried to do in ‘Half Filled Tear’,” Butcher said, “was flesh a story out in a way that touches a lot of people. I hope that we were successful—and I guess we’ll find out.”

—by Larry Katz

Former Boston Herald columnist and editor Larry Katz has covered music and the arts for more than 30 years. Visit his website, Contact him at


“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” —Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai showed the world that there is no stopping a hungry mind. At 15 years old she proved that she was willing to risk her life in the pursuit of an education. On October 9th, 2012, while riding home from school, Taliban agents stopped her car and shot Malala in the head. She survived the attack, and bravely refused to surrender her dream. Because of her courage and her dedication to the cause of education for all, Malala became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee ever. She has inspired girls around the world to pursue their goals fearlessly and NOT to let anyone get in the way of their education, or their dreams. It shows how one person can inspire change in the world.

I immediately thought of Malala when I heard the story below, written by our dynamic team member Marissa Ranahan. After you read about this uplifting example of mentorship, share the story on social media, encourage your friends and community to support the Malala Fund, and take a few moments to think about how you could make positive change in the world by becoming a mentor.

Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director


“Mentoring someone doesn’t need to be a lifetime job. Sometimes, it can simply be a lesson that can be carried through a lifetime. This story proves that anyone, at any time, can be a mentor in their own way. It’s the little things that have the greatest impact.” —Marissa Ranahan

Copyright shadowgirl08

Those were her exact words, and I smiled as soon as she mentioned the word mentor. Since joining the team at Over My Shoulder, it seemed to me that every person I encountered had someone in their life as a mentor.I asked her quickly if she enjoyed reading, and her face lit up. She was twenty-three years old. She had a soft smile, with a brightly colored hijab wrapped tightly around her head. We started to talk about books and different genres of literature. She nodded her head in agreement and smiled as I spoke. “Can I tell you something?” she asked. “I have a mentor who taught me how to read, because I am not allowed to.”

This young woman came to America from the Middle East, where she was never taught how to read. Although she always longed to learn, she was not allowed. When a neighbor in the U.S. found out she wasn’t able to read, the woman offered to give private reading lessons, without the knowledge of her disapproving family. They met every Wednesday night in secret until the young woman’s family came home from work. When everyone was asleep, she would take out her books and practice the sentence structure her neighbor had taught her. After six months of study, she was already reading chapter books.

“To me” she said, “Reading is like a different language. After listening to it, I hungered for more, but I was restricted from reading. I consider my neighbor my mentor, my reading mentor, and a woman who had opened up new doors to my knowledge. To me, this is the best guidance I have ever received.”

The admiration she had for this woman was obvious, even in our brief encounter. I asked her what a “mentor” was in her own words—she responded, “A mentor is someone who comes into your life like a guardian angel, and helps you fulfill a passion that was missing before. It might not be for a lifetime, but as soon as you feel like someone believes in you, that feeling will carry through your lifetime.”

I haven’t seen this young lady again. But the message of her story is universal, and deserves to be heard. Anyone can be a mentor. Small acts of mentorship, like teaching one person to read, reverberate for a lifetime. The reward of helping another person is priceless.

Marissa Ranahan, Over My Shoulder team member

[box]We are lucky to have a teacher on our writing team and excited for her students, because Sarah Gross is NOT afraid to tackle difficult issues.

She has written about the sensitive topics of racism and bullying before, addressing Lady Gaga and the anti-bullying crusades of 2012 and how Lenny Kravitz addresses race issues. So when Sarah’s students brought up the controversial performance of Sebastien de la Cruz during Game 4 of the NBA playoffs in June she jumped at the teaching moment and mentored.

Today, Sarah urges us to DISCUSS these issues and learn from what is wrong and what is right. She tackles this story to mentor us as only she can, to inspire and nurture a more tolerant state of mind.

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

The National Anthem

A young Mexican-American boy, lionized for his skills as a vocalist on the popular TV competition show, America’s Got Talent, sang the National Anthem at the NBA finals. The audience waited with baited breath for the singing spectacular to grace the stage, expecting to see an image to feed their patriotism; a voice to fill their hearts with the familiar sounds of the American Dream.

When Sebastien de la Cruz walked proudly up to the microphone, he accomplished just that, offering a heartfelt rendition of the song that symbolizes “Americanism” and all that bearing the badge of “American citizen” stands for.

The Public’s Reaction

Many cheered at the performance, touched by the young boy’s voice, but those cheers quickly became marred when negative publicity targeted Sebastian, and the focus of his performance turned from his beautiful voice to his nationality. Specifically, Sebastian’s appearance became the focus—not his voice, not his personality—no, his physical appearance rapidly became the target as individuals who watched the performance made judgments that have plagued our country for generations. These individuals generated comments which spread like wildfire across the internet, shallow and prejudiced.

What was the cause of these comments? Sebastien de la Cruz, gifted vocalist or not, did not meet the expectations of a select audience primed for a quintessential American to stand and deliver the National Anthem. Sebastien de la Cruz, dressed in the garb reminiscent of a Spanish mariachi—to embrace his personal culture—became, to some, a Mexican, not an American. Comments, like the one below, soon found their way across the internet:


Assumption-Based Negativity After the Performance

The negative attitude shown through this comment highlights the assumptions that some viewers of the NBA game made. However, the comments may stem more from the time and place in which Sebastian embraced his culture, rather than the gesture itself. While the young boy delivered a good song, it may not have been the proper platform for a traditional costume, simply because it took the focus off the game. This could be the case with any costume from any culture. To displace the focus during a sports event may be considered disrespectful to many diehard sports fans, especially as the sports arena is placed on a high pedestal in America. Nevertheless, this instance highlights the attitudes that persist, and the need to respectfully address them.

Schooling, and education, starting with our nation’s youths, is a route to truly combating these attitudes. Teaching young people life values and character traits such as respect and tolerance, and tackling tough issues at home and inside of the classrooms, is at least a starting point.

A Teacher’s Perspective on Bullying

As a teacher, my value system includes instructing students through a curriculum embedded in life skills, and using key texts to supply students with the tools to help them lead a successful life. Yes, we can use a novel like To Kill a Mockingbird to teach English Language Arts-specific skills. But, in doing so, we miss the opportunity to teach the richness of the text. By avoiding the tough issues (racism, empathy, prejudice), we fall short of fully preparing youths to go out and be successful in the world.

If we truly want to combat stereotyping and prejudice, then we should not be afraid to confront and discuss these issues at school and at home. Keeping them hidden accomplishes nothing, and as seen through the public’s reaction to Sebastian de la Cruz, only feeds the negative attitudes that have plagued our country’s history.

A Classroom Discussion of the Word “Immigrant”

Sebastien de la Cruz’s experience touches a cord with me specifically because I am confronting these issues in my classroom as I teach my students the autobiographical novel Breaking Through by Mexican author Francisco Jiménez. My classroom is diverse, and my students identified with the novel immediately. During a discussion of the word “immigrant,” my students voiced the words that were surely in the minds of those who gave negative feedback of Sebastian’s performance: “illegal,” “green card,” among others.

There is a degree of hostility in the students’ voices as they are clearly aware of the stereotypes that exist against the main character (and author) Francisco, and by extension, the stereotypes which may exist against them. The novel brings up sensitive issues; do we shy away from them, brush them under the rug, or is it our duty to face them, as they are?

What Benefit Comes From Shielding Young People from These Realities?

The question to ask here is what benefit there is in shielding young people from these realities. Conversations with youths will show a startling awareness of these issues, and we are doing a disservice to students if we think it is in their best interest to hide, or to sugarcoat. Youths are intelligent, and we can challenge them and better prepare them to think critically about the world if we can start to talk with them about these issues and give them the space to form and refine their own ideas.

Teaching Tolerance and Respect

Teaching tolerance and respect can only happen if we start with the nation’s youths. Perhaps then, we will see less and less of the comments directed at Sebastian; perhaps then, we will see a young boy singing the National Anthem and we will celebrate him for who he is on the inside. The color of his skin, his clothes, his accent—those things will be a part of who he is, but those things will comprise his individuality, and we can begin to embrace the idea of a diverse American citizenry.

This hope for the future, I think, is beautifully expressed through the words of Mr. Jiménez, who is a wonderful mentor for us all:

“For me, the beauty of that ideal, of that American dream, is when you see all different immigrant groups that make up our society, from all different parts of the world, coming together, living together, working together, helping each other.

If our country has the potential and the hope of showing the rest of the world that different peoples from different cultures, speaking different languages, with different customs, can live together in harmony and in peace and learn from each other, then we have a lot to offer to the rest of the world.”

Using Difficult Experiences to Design the Next Generation

I write today about my classroom’s discussion of Sebastien de la Cruz because racism and bullying are learned behaviors that must be STOPPPED. We need to use every opportunity we have to build a more tolerant, compassionate world. We need people like a reformed racist Arno Michaelis fostering a better world by speaking of his own experiences with hate and the miracle of one woman changing his mind with her kindness.

By tackling the difficult issue of racism with my students, I hope that they would be inspired tocreatethis better world filled with tolerance and compassion. By writing about this difficult issue with Over My Shoulder Foundation, I hope that you will be inspired to mentor a more tolerant generation.

After all, we are designing the next generation…

[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]


[box] Today I just found out that Stevie Wonder (one of my mentors from afar) and Arsenio Hall will be there when our Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder, Patti Austin, is inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame on June 22, 2013. I wanted to share some thoughts about mentors we haven’t met in person, and the ways that Stevie Wonder mentored me, from afar…

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

Mentors from Afar

Mentors come in all shapes,  styles and walks of life – some you meet and some you don’t.  The ones you never meet but influence you in a profound way are people you admire…I still call them mentors because they affect you.

Great speakers can stimulate great ideas while you listen. Great artists become the soundtracks of your life because their music takes you over and alters your thinking or perhaps changes your moves.

Today Our Mentor from Afar is Stevie Wonder!

Stevie Wonder has been sharing his mentoring messages through song all around the world since the 1960’s. He has been a star since he was a child and many of his songs have mentored the cultivation of calm, peace, unity and respect.

Stevie Wonder has never backed away from tackling difficult social issues. He has never withdrawn from his role in the front line as his music eliminates barriers. Every new song story is a mentoring message of  diversity, culture and individuality.

A great example of Stevie Wonder’s musical mentoring message is the song Ebony and Ivory. Ebony and Ivory is an anti-racism anthem. We’ve found a clip from when Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney perform this hit song at the White House!

Artists like Stevie  dare to say the things we wish we could say. They explain feelings that we might not fully understand. They touch our hearts and souls with their gifts unlike anything else in the world, baring their inner secrets, exposing their life lessons so we might learn from their mistakes.

Getting Excited About the Hollywood Bowl

As we prepare for the most unbelievable night this June 22 when our co-founder Patti Austin is inducted into the Hollywood Bowl of Fame along with those rockers from Aerosmith Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and artist John Legend I will thank all those artists (many I never met) who influenced and mentored me. As I hear our lead song Over My Shoulder performed at the Hollywood Bowl I will realize some of my own dreams coming true and I will silently thank all those mentors that have come before me, and all those who will come after me.

When I see Patti on stage I will be wildly proud…Not just of her and our Over My Shoulder song, but to all of you who have helped keep the Over My Shoulder Foundation flourishing…This moment is for you too!

So with that… here is another Stevie Wonder song for you. I believe this song can mentor more love into our world.

“I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder


“Do it over. Do it differently. Do it until it can’t be done any better.”

-Stevie Wonder

 [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]


Jean Stapleton passed away last Friday, May 31. Her time with us lasted for a fulfilling 90 years. We will probably best remember Jean for portraying the role of “Edith Bunker” in the TV show All in the Family.

All in the Family was such a lightning rod for mentoring…

 70’s Sitcoms : How They Mentored Us All

Whether we were ready or not, many of the American Sitcom TV shows in the 1970’s served as a wake-up call for how our world was changing.

Through controversial, a sitcom’s comedic structure could tackle the tough conversations of the times on topics like:

  • Women’s Liberation,
  • Racism,
  • Vietnam War,
  • Menopause, and
  • Rape.

Those were just some of the major issues, but there were also many others. The episodes took subject matters that few were willing or capable of talking about and mentored viewers that these subject matters could not remain under the rug or in the closet.

Jean Stapleton as All in the Family‘s Edith Bunker

All in the Family helped issues enter everyday conversations, and those issues needed so desperately to come out. The show is a perfect example of how producers and writers in the 70’s took the complicated, controversial subject matters of that time and mentored viewers towards a more tolerant and compassionate understanding.

Jean Stapleton was the brilliant actress that brought character Edith from All in the Family to life. Edith was the exquisite example of how simple mentoring can be – even in difficult or awkward situations.

As the wife of bigot Archie Bunker (Actor Carroll O’Connor) Edith mentored him. She navigated and tamed the turbulent, tortured attitude of her husband and quelled his temper with her nurturing ways.

A Beautiful Good-Bye to Jean, from All in the Family Producer Norman Lear

All in the Family became one of the most influential shows in television history. Today we remember Jean and her “Edith” legacy. Perhaps noone can understand better how Jean impacted the world around her than All in the Family producer Norman Lear. We share with you the beautiful words of Norman’s heart-felt goodbye as posted in the New York Times:

“She’s always where she is…No one gave more profound “how to be a human being” lessons than Jean Stapleton”

When someone as successful and influential as Norman Lear gives such a soaring review of someone’s influence, you know that they can mentor you in some aspect of your life. Now, how can YOU mentor others? How are others mentoring YOU?

Thank You, Jean, for the great work you left us

during the great life you lived.

 [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]


[box] The magnetic pull of the ocean can be healing, spiritual and thought-provoking. It is a mentor. A crash of a wave, the cry of a gull or the salty scent can make us think about where we are in life, where we have been and where we might want to go.

Earlier this year we introduced you to water photographer Jeff Hornbaker and his thoughts about mentoring. His images of the world can teach you how to look in such a magnificent, new and unfathomable way that you will swear after that he MENTORED you to see the best of what the earth has to offer.

The Ocean and it’s many Mentorology messages is one many of us simply cannot live without, and that’s why today on June 8 we are celebrating World Ocean Day with the rest of our planet. Help preserve this magnificence and protect it for our future generations. Help mentor kindness, respect and gratitude for this majestic gift. Organize a beach clean-up or simply re-post this story!

I’d like to inspire you to take action today, on World Ocean Day, with one of my favorite poems written by surfer and artist John O’Brien.

Life on earth depends on a healthy and clean ocean. What will you do to protect it today?

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


Surfer Dreams by John O’Brien

Every wave has a life and a death.

They are born of winds, gravity, and earthquakes, and live a life of travel until that fateful day

when a reef, point, or sandbar is met and their lives expire

in one final crashing breath.


As in any system, energy is not lost.

When caught, their life is transferred to the surfers who ride them.

In that moment the surfer becomes one with the wave.

This drama of life is played out differently each time.

It ends in a previously unforeseen liquid reward or tragedy:

a graceful glide, exhilarating tube ride, or horrific wipeout.


When all goes well, surfers experience incredible bursts of

euphoria, happiness, and excitement called stoke.

All photography by John O’Brien

[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]


[box]Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) is a non-profit organization co-founded by Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll to promote mentoring and Mentorology through music and design. Over My Shoulder Foundation 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.

Think of “Mentoring”, “Music” and “Design” together.
Now envision Over My Shoulder Foundation uniting those worlds.[/box]

From LA to Boston, Berlin and beyond, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founders Dawn Carroll and Patti Austin have been sharing the mentoring message of Designing the Next Generation in 2013.


OMSF’s international conversation about mentoring in the design world, Designing the Next Generation, got Dawn and Patti invited as Design Bloggers Conference guest speakers March 3-5, 2013 at Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City. read more

Dawn Carroll was elected to Boston Women in Media and Design’s board as Vice President of Mentoring and Inclusion. read more

ASID New England Chapter Annual Awards Gala donated a portion of proceeds to OMSF for mentoring efforts and community service on March 21, 2013 at Mandarin Oriental in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. read more

OMSF Co-Founders Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll attended the LDC Conference in Berlin, Germany at the Hotel de Rome from April 3-5, 2013. They dazzled with their mentoring message and Patti even performed the song Lean on Me. read more

Patti Austin will be inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame on June 22, 2013 along with John Legend, Steven
Tyler and Joe Perry. On that night, Patti will perform the song that started OMSF on the path of the mentoring work.
read more


Here are some other Over My Shoulder Foundation accomplishments in mentoring, music and design …



OMSF partnered with CUMAR Marble & Granite to create The Boston Globe’s Design New England Magazine MIDDIE (Mentors in Design) awards. The MIDDIES salute design professionals in interior design, architecture, building, landscape design, and related fields, who share their time, expertise, and wisdom with the next generation.


OMSF launched the inaugural “Designing the Next Generation” event in 2012 with Cumar Marble and Granite to expand the mentoring conversation nationally. The Inspirational Evening of Mentoring Story and Song at the Liberty Hotel in Boston featured speakers Stephen Powell (Executive Director, Mentoring USA), Ted Fujimoto (Founder, The Right to Succeed Foundation) and keynote speaker Attorney Richard (Rick) Dyer who was introduced by Attorney Gary Greenberg of GreenbergTruarig.

Attorney Dyer presented former Presidential Candidate, Governor Michael Dukakis, with a stunning award designed by Cumar Inc. thanking him for the mentoring that allowed him to turn his life around. The audience was graced with beautiful musical performances by Patti Austin, Charlie Farren, Robin Lane, Hal Lebeaux and Julie Silver.


OMSF partnered with well-known design brands like the prestigious Poggenpohl kitchen design studios and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture showrooms in 2012 to promote mentoring in design. The events are just a hint of what is to come nationally as individuals from the worlds of mentoring, music and design are gathering to recognize the importance of Mentorology and help OMSF spread the concept for future generations.


One little song called Over My Shoulder has brought the world a little closer and has us all paying close attention to mentoring. The mentoring song was written by Dawn Carroll, Charlie Farren, Brynn Arens and Barry Orms. It was first performed by Patti Austin and her mentee, Lianna Gutierrez, as a duet. The message of the song is to mentor, whether older to younger or the other way around – mentoring knows no age. Watch Patti and Lianna perform Over My Shoulder here.

Download a copy of this Over My Shoulder Foundation May Media Brief here:  OverMyShoulderFoundation_MediaBrief.May

[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]



Making huge strides in our efforts to unite the worlds of mentoring, music and design at the intersection of Over My Shoulder Foundation, we are proud to announce that our very own Co-Founder and Executive Director Dawn Carroll has been named the Vice President of Mentoring and Inclusion at Boston Women in Media and Entertainment.

About Dawn Carroll

Over My Shoulder Foundation Executive Director….

You know Dawn as Over My Shoulder Foundation’s fearless leader, bringing you fascinating mentoring stories and spearheading Designing the Next Generation: Over My Shoulder Foundation’s international conversation about mentoring in the design world.


You might remember that Dawn co-write the song Over My Shoulder with Charlie Farren, Brynn Arens and Barry Orms. You can watch Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Grammy award winning singing legend Patti Austin perform the Over My Shoulder song with her mentee Lianna Gutierrez here.

Dawn is currently collaborating with Jon Butcher to create a new mentoring song for Over My Shoulder Foundation. It’s going to be a good one!

Media Mastermind-Turned-Designer…

What you might not know is that Dawn’s passion for music and entertainment runs deep. Before starting her career as a designer on the East Coast in Boston (and winning many awards for her design work) – Dawn worked with a small independent film company called Sheen Productions in Los Angeles. With Sheen Productions, Dawn was part of a team that developed, produced and released the 3 NINJA franchise – the most profitable Disney film in 1992. She was also part of Dick Scott Entertainment and reported to VP in world wide management and publicity of recording artists as well as international tour support.


Dawn Carroll knows first hand the benefits of mentoring relationships.

About Boston Women in Media & Entertainment

Boston Women in Media & Entertainment (BWME) was established in 2002 to create a vibrant, interactive community of support for women within the broadcast and performing arts in the Boston area. BWME is a pillar of strength, support and MENTORING for women working in all fields related to media and entertainment: from radio to television and public relations to singers, recording artists and women who work behind the microphone.

The Alliance: Over My Shoulder Foundation + Boston Women in Media and Entertainment

Boston Women in Media and Entertainment board President Candy O’Terry and Executive Vice President Dayla Arabella Santurri have joined Over My Shoulder Foundation’s team as board members. In the Boston Women in Media & Entertainment exclusive signature series, The Story Behind Her Success, welcomed Over My Shoulder Foundation Patti Austin to appear as a guest. This resulted in a continuation of a vibrant mentoring conversation through that is putting Boston in the crux of this evolving world as it becomes the Mentoring Hub of the United States.

Candy O’Terry, Dayla Arabella, Liz Brunner with Kate White and Patti Austin at BWME’s Story Behind Her Success interview on March 25, 2013 at Westin Copley Place, Boston

With Dawn as the VP of Mentoring and Inclusion at Boston Women in Media and Entertainment, you can bet that there will be more mentorology happening in Boston, in the US and around the world soon!

[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]


Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founders Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll attended the Leaders of Design Council Conference in Berlin, Germany at the Hotel de Rome from April 3-5, 2013.


The Leaders of Design Council (LDC) is an exclusive membership body of the top architects and designers in the U.S. founded by Keith Granet and Meg Touberg. You can see a slideshow of photos from the Leaders of Design Council Conference put together by the LDC here.


Patti Austin Performs Lean on Me

You’ll recognize the soundtrack to the Leaders of Design Council Conference slideshow as our very own Patti Austin, singing Lean on Me – a fitting song that describes Mentorology (the art and science of mentoring) in such a perfect way:

“If there is a load you must bear that you cannot carry,

I’ll be right on over.

I’ll share your load if you just call.”

These song lyrics fit right into the vision of mentoring Dawn and Patti champion through Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF). LDC founders Granet and Touberg say that Patti “brought down the house with [a] moving performance” on the last night of the Berlin design event.

Over My Shoulder Foundation's Co-Founder Patti Austin at the 2013 Leaders of Design Council Conference in Berlin, Germany

Over My Shoulder Foundation’s Co-Founder Patti Austin at the 2013 Leaders of Design Council Conference in Berlin, Germany


OMSF Proud to Be a Part of The Leaders in Design Council Conference in 2013

Here are all the attendees to the 2013 Leaders of Design Council Conference in Berlin. Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founders Dawn Carroll and Patti Austin are proud to be a part of the exclusive educational organization with a long-range vision of improving the industry of design as a whole.

Attendees to the 2013 Leaders of Design Council Conference in Berlin

Attendees to the 2013 Leaders of Design Council Conference in Berlin


Dawn is Mentoring Patti in Design

Through the design mentoring she tirelessly champions for Over My Shoulder Foundation, OMSF Co-Founder Dawn Carroll is mentoring Patti Austin as Patti flourishes in the beginning of her career as a designer, a dream come true for the singer. Patti, a Grammy Award-winning singing legend, is pursuing her dream to carve out a niche in the design world for herself. Isn’t mentoring a great way to go after  your dreams? We certainly think so. Designing the Next Generation is Over My Shoulder Foundation’s international conversation about mentoring in the design world.

Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founders Dawn Carroll (left) and Patti Austin (right) at the 2013 Leaders of Design Council Conference in Berlin, Germany

Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founders Dawn Carroll (left) and Patti Austin (right) at the 2013 Leaders of Design Council Conference in Berlin, Germany



One of the Berlin Design Conference Sponsors, Cumar

Cumar Marble & Granite was one of the The Leaders of Design Council Conference sponsors. Cumar’s General Manager Dave Connor says, “Dawn has carved out OMSF’s niche in the mentoring world while managing an award worthy design career at Cumar, which is currently in its 8th generation of leadership in stone sourcing and fabrication in Everett, Massachusetts. Mentoring is a necessary everyday activity at Cumar as there is no trade school to attend for this craft.”




Closing Thoughts from Dawn Carroll

Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director says, “I was honored to be included and truly was MENTORED!” There you have it. Another score for the Mentorology cycle by Over My Shoulder Foundation, our first international event.


[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]

The Design Bloggers Conference is the event of the year for interior design bloggers, the first of its kind to bring together design industry leaders to get inspired, make connections and share skills vital to one’s growth in the business of design blogging.

Naturally, Over My Shoulder Foundation fits right in so we are proud to have attended. We fit right in because of Designing the Next Generation, Over My Shoulder Foundation’s international conversation about mentoring in the design world. This conversation takes place at productions, live events which bring together industry professionals, and – on our blog. OMSF Co-Founders Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll spoke about their work at the conference.


Dawn Carroll (right) has been Patti Austin’s (left) guiding light in her design goals.

Mentoring in the Design World with Over My Shoulder Foundation

Designing the Next Generation IS a blog recognized at the inaugural Design Bloggers Conference held March 3-5, 2013 at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City and presented by Digital Sherpa. Yet, Designing the Next Generation is only one aspect of Over My Shoulder Foundation’s work on mentoring in the design world. Some other ways that Over My Shoulder Foundation supports mentoring in the design world include the following productions:

  • OMSF partnered with CUMAR Marble & Granite to create and inspire The Boston Globe’s Design New England Magazine MIDDIE (Mentors in Design) awards. The MIDDIES salute design professionals in interior design, architecture, building, landscape design, and related fields, who share their time, expertise, and wisdom with the next generation.
  • An inspirational evening of mentoring stories and song, also called Designing the Next Generation, was held at Boston’s Liberty Hotel on June 18, 2012. The event was attended by 300+ leaders from sectors of Design, Architecture, Construction, Music, Law, and Education throughout Boston and New England.
  • OMSF partnered with well-known design brands like the prestigious Poggenpohl kitchen design studios and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture showrooms. The events are just a hint of what is to come as individuals from the worlds of mentoring, music and design gather to recognize the importance of Mentorology and help OMSF spread the concept for future generations.

Over My Shoulder Foundation hails Mentorology, the art and science of mentoring, as the number-one priority as we 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.

We hope we inspired YOU to get involved in the work of designing the next generation.

 [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]



We are so proud to announce that Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) was recognized this year by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) New England Chapter. The recognition happened at the ASID New England Annual Awards Gala when a portion of the evening’s proceeds were donated to our mentoring efforts. This year, the Gala was thrown at the Mandarin Oriental in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood on Thursday, March 21 (2013).


About the American Society of Interior Designers

ASID is the oldest and largest professional organization for interior designers. In the United States there are over 20,000 designers, industry representatives, educators and students committed to interior design through ASID membership.


OMSF and ASID New England

As Dawn Carroll, OMSF Co-Founder and Executive Director, guides this mentoring non-profit into its niche at events and awards (such as this year’s ASID New England recognition) we can’t help but notice that in the world of design, ASID is a top player. OMSF is heading in the right direction, and we hope you’ll get involved in our mentoring movement.

Here is Dawn accepting Over My Shoulder Foundation’s award at this year’s ASID New England annual awards gala.

OMSF Co-Founder and Executive Director accepting an ASID New England award at the 2013 gala

When Dawn accepted the award she talked about her experiences with mentoring throughout her career. You can watch a video of the 2013 ASID New England Awards Gala here.


Design at Over My Shoulder Foundation – An Insight Into Our Award-Worthiness

As a stone designer at Cumar Marble and Granite, Dawn knows firsthand that in the stone world, mentoring is the only way that the special craftsmanship has been able to live on from generation to generation. With Cumar (a gold sponsor of the 2013 ASID New England Annual Awards Gala), which is currently in its 8th generation of leadership, Dawn is mentoring her OMSF Co-Founder Patti Austin in the world of design as Patti pursues her dreams of becoming an interior designer.

Patti won the 2010 Mentors in Design award (the MIDDIE award was designed by Cumar) at the start of her involvement in design and commitment to mentoring. Someday Dawn and Patti might have their own design-centric mentoring TV show but until then, stay tuned.

Here is Patti Austin, OMSF Co-Founder, receiving another design award, the 2010 MIDDIE (Mentors in Design) award.

Ever at the intersection of mentoring, music and design – Over My Shoulder Foundation is set to take these worlds by storm and bring you into the magical world of mentoring.


Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Boston Showroom Supports Mentoring with OMSF at ASID Gala

This year’s gold sponsor of the ASID New England Awards Gala is Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. This powerhouse of design has supported OMSF’s mentoring movement through their Boston showroom. Just last year, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams hosted an OMSF event in 2012 where OMSF Co-Founder and Grammy award-winning singing legend Patti Austin gave her mentee Santana Roberts a scholarship for National Thank Your Mentor Day.

At the ASID Gala this year, ASID New England Chapter President Mary Beth Haggerty presented OMSF with a $1,000 check to expand mentoring efforts through music and design.

ASID New England Gala, 2013 - Over My Shoulder Foundation

(L – R) John Trifone of Mitchell Gold
+ Bob Williams; ASID New England Chapter President Marybeth Haggerty;Dawn Carroll, Award-Winning Designer and OMSF Co-Founder/Executive Director

Together, Dawn and Patti are bringing their vision to life. Over My Shoulder Foundation is using design, music, stories and entertainment to help people understand the power of mentoring and give them real life examples of how mentoring is an art form that deserves attention, recognition and effort.

[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]