Having founded the Over My Shoulder Foundation with legendary vocalist Patti Austin, the national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally, mentoring has become an even more prominent part of my daily life. Over the years, Patti and I have begun mentoring each other with Patti helping advance my musical pursuits while I nurtured her interest in the world of design. This newly-found common passion led to Patti’s September 24th flight into Boston for a covert mission. Together with my current company, Cumar Inc., a stone fabrication and stone design business, we had three days to come up with the Mentors in Design Awards (MIDDIES), which would be unveiled at an elegant evening that Design New England is planning for November 3, 2010.

As a Grammy award winner, Patti understands the true impact of an award so I brought her to the Cumar offices to share with my co-workers the dreamlike feeling and the significance behind winning a coveted award like the one we were about to design. In addition, her newly-sparked interest in design made this opportunity ideal for Patti to get involved in. We had to make the award not only visually beautiful but also had to make it convey the importance of the person receiving it, a leader, a influencer who played a major role in the design community as someone’s mentor.

Mentoring seems to follow me wherever I go and is something that happens every minute of every day at Cumar. As one of the most respected and influential stone craftsmen in the country, president Ivo Cubi is also known globally for his ability to find the most unusual stones and is a natural mentor for everyone who works with him. Not only is Over My Shoulder proud to have inspired the MIDDIES, but the Foundation’s chance to work with Cumar, a company that believes so strongly in the impact of mentoring, to help create the award has been incredible. Combining the stone design knowledge of Cumar with the altruistic spirit of Over My Shoulder produced a stunning finished product fitting of the deserving future recipients. – Dawn Carroll

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