Network Spotlight
April 2, 2015

One of the primary benefits and strengths of the Letterwinners M Club is the access to a powerful network of alumni who have established careers across every industry. Current board member Jeannette Stawski (Rowing, 1998) realizes the importance of seeking out these type of mentor opportunities. "Finding a mentor or serving as one is personally and professionally rewarding," Jeannette said.

So when she met Becca Garfinkel, a senior on the softball team, she saw a great opportunity to expand both of their networks. After their initial meeting at the Spring 2014 Student-Athlete Networking Event, the two were able to reconnect recently to discuss Jeannette's experience in the non-profit, environmental sector. We asked Jeannette and Becca some questions about their interactions and what they hope to gain from this mentorship.

Jeannette and Becca's Backgrounds

Jeannette Stawski is in her fourth year serving as the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education's Executive Director. She is a Leave No Trace Master Educator, a National Outdoor Leadership School Instructor, a Wilderness Medical Training Center Wilderness Medicine Instructor, and an Emergency Medical Technician. Jeannette has a B.S. in Resource Policy and Behavior from the University of Michigan [1998] and is a Certified Association Executive [CAE]. Jeannette completed 11 years as the Director of Outdoor Adventures at the University of Michigan. Prior to working for U of M, Jeannette worked for five summers as a professional outdoor guide. She has mentored over 500 participants while leading multiple extended programs. She has spent over 250 days in the backcountry in Tennessee, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Washington, New Zealand, and Alaska. She also worked for three summers as a professional whitewater guide with over 1,600 river miles on class I-IV Rivers. Jeannette and her husband, Justin, have two children Gretel, 9 and Thor 6. She enjoys open water swimming and is currently learning the sport of skate skiing.

Becca is a senior on the softball team studying Political Science with a minor in Community Action & Social Change. She hails from West Bloomfield, Michigan, where she attended the International Academy and played softball at Andover High School (now Bloomfield Hills High School). Becca also serves on the Executive Board of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee-- through her position as Vice President for Legislative Reform, she communicates between student-athletes and the Michigan Athletic Department, Big Ten, and NCAA on issues of national importance such as food deregulation, cost of attendance, and student-athlete time commitment. She is passionate about promoting student-athlete voice and hope to continue this work after graduation. Next year, Becca intends to travel abroad to teach English, and then return to the States for law school and a career in policy administration.

How did you meet?

Jeannette: I met Becca at the Spring 2014 Student-Athlete Networking Event where I presented on my work in non-profit administration. Since that first meeting, Becca had followed up with me via email and phone, but it was not until this past week did we finally connect. She had a chance to come to my office and shadow my work.

Becca: Jeannette and I met in the fall of my junior year at a networking event put on by M-PACT (now the Center for Leadership Development and Career Preparation), which directs career services for student-athletes. The organizer of the event, Alex Wood, knew I was interested in working in the non-profit sector and pointed me toward Jeannette. We had a great conversation about her work at AORE and our shared love for Glacier National Park and I was happy to walk away with a new contact in the world of non-profits and outdoor education. We reconnected at the Letterwinners M Club Senior Dinner this fall and were able to find time for me to visit the AORE office last week.

What have been some of the highlights of this mentorship?

Jeannette: I am a lifelong learner, and as an individual who believes in coaching to reach goals. Becca happened to be in the office during a call with my executive coach. I continue to work on developing my skills; this week focusing on shoring up communication gaps with volunteers and constructing powerful meetings. I hope for Becca to see that learning and coaching does not stop after you leave the field. This is critical for anyone's success because if you stop learning, you stop growing and lose relevance.

Becca: Given my academic and athletic commitments, I have little time for professional development, so experiences like networking events and Letterwinners M Club dinners are a great way for me to tap into a network that is very supportive of my interests. Not only did my contact with Jeannette build a great new mentorship, but I was recently able to visit AORE's office and experience, for a couple hours, what it takes to run a non-profit. I can't get real life experiences like this in a classroom, or even on the softball field, so I find tremendous value in opportunities like this to help me visualize the shape my eventual career may take.

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