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Southwest Michigan First - Mentor or Coach of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Company: Southwest Michigan First, Kalamazoo, MI
Company Description: Southwest Michigan First is an organization of privately funded economic development advisors who act as the catalyst for economic success in Southwest Michigan. Founded in 1999 on the principle that the most powerful force for change is a well-paying job, the organization works across all industries throughout the seven counties making up the Southwest Michigan Region.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Mentor or Coach of the Year – Government or Non-Profit

Nomination Title: Sarah Mansberger, Partner

Describe for the judges the nominated individual's activities and accomplishments that supported women in business since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

Sarah Mansberger is a leadership, business and communications specialist who uses innovative facilitation techniques to make learning interactive and specific to professional adults. Her curriculum and coaching create a leadership mindset for busy professionals who don’t have the time or financial backing to go back to school. Sarah’s upbeat and accepting personality make her the perfect guide for both new and experienced participants as she walks them through in-depth, professional and organizational development programs.

To grow a community of legacy leadership, Sarah has developed and facilitated curriculum for Southwest Michigan First’s “First 50” mentorship program. This leadership development cohort combines individualized mentorship with interactive learning sessions. For “First 50” 2017-2018, Sarah fostered a safe environment in which leaders from local businesses and community organizations could feel comfortable discussing how to improve their leadership. The program pairs those new to leadership with experienced experts in their field and includes close one-on-one mentoring sessions. Through Sarah’s instruction, the participants explored topics including leading with your strengths, developing next-level executive habits, leadership and conflict and building a leadership brand.

In addition, Sarah created extensive programming for, and then led, “Leadership Kalamazoo,” a six-month program that empowers young local leaders. Another of Southwest Michigan First’s many community development initiatives, this experience lifts up emerging leaders to encourages them to expand their knowledge of self, community and leadership best practices; and to develop an intentional plan for growth. Sarah designed and taught each 2018 course. Participants loved engaging one-on-one with Sarah and came away from the course with a vastly expanded leadership toolkit.

Adding a brand-new program to Southwest Michigan First’s lineup, Sarah also personally developed “Managing from the Middle,” a learning cohort for those occupying the middle seats in their organizations. Sarah discovered that middle managers make or break talent retention efforts, healthy work cultures and effective change initiatives. In developing this program, Sarah seeks to empower potentially disillusioned leaders who face daunting responsibilities to manage their own career ambitions while balancing their responsibility to grow the capacity of their teams. Starting in October 2018, 40 regional mid-level managers will grow their skills in four engaging, all-day, retreat-style sessions.

However, Sarah’smentorship doesn’t end with curriculum and facilitation. She also serves as a consultant and coach for individual leaders of organizations across the Southwest Michigan region. She maintains relationships with heads of local businesses and provides continual coaching for team engagement, implementing change, driving engagement and more. In fact, in March of 2018, Sarah collaborated with Southwest Michigan First’s Carla Sonnes to launch and create “Catalytic Cultures,” a four-part webinar series encouraging best-practices in workplace culture, including guest speakers and live participation.

Passionate about driving change in her community, Sarah has weighed in on panel discussions on a wide range of topics. She is also a regular contributor to 269 MAGAZINE, Southwest Michigan First’s regional bi-monthly publication, where she writes a recurring column supporting leadership development and healthy organizational cultures. Southwest Michigan First has calculated that over the past year, Sarah Mansberger has impacted at least 236 individuals through her brilliant mentorship and steadfast support—that is almost one person for every working day.

Provide a brief biography of the nominated individual (up to 125 words):

Sarah Mansberger, an expert in organizational health and adult curriculum development, is a partner at Southwest Michigan First. At the regional economic development organization, headquartered in Kalamazoo, MI, she is tasked with the development and facilitation of leadership and community mentorship/coaching programs like “Managing from the Middle,” “Catalytic Cultures,” “First 50,” and “Leadership Kalamazoo.” Sarah’s work aims to build a community network of superb and supportive leaders in the Southwest Michigan region. She also serves on the board of Read and Write Kalamazoo (RAWK), a Kalamazoo-based youth literacy organization and on the Marketing Committee for Women Employed in Chicago. Sarah has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Illinois.