• Devon Mitchell

#MentorMeet: Mindy Schwartz


Meet Mindy, @environmentalnaturecenter‘s Education Director. Mindy has worked as an environmental educator and naturalist at the California Science Center and as the Director of Creative Programming at Trash for Teaching.

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✨What are you passionate about?

“I am passionate about connecting children and families to nature. Caring about and taking care of the world around us begins with just having simple opportunities to see why nature is amazing. I love incorporating live animals into our programs - children are captivated by live animals and it really ignites their curiosity in a special way.”

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✨What does “mentoring” mean to you?

“To me, mentoring means cultivating the next generation of leaders. A mentor is often a trusted person you can come to with concerns and frustrations, who helps you see things in a different light or provides guidance for solving your own problems.”

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✨How are you staying connected with others?

“I am very connected to the people I work with and my immediate family - they are really the only people I see in person on a regular basis! Outside of work I have committed to regular Zoom calls with my extended family - we have a standing appointment on Sunday afternoons (they live on the east coast). I also periodically plan virtual get-togethers with my friends from college and grad school. Just recently I took over the local OC branch of my alma mater’s alumni organization. Organizing events for that group has been another good way to connect to people. Finally, I am on the governing board for the Southern California Informal Science Educators group and we meet monthly to share what’s been going on with us and our orgs, as well as to plan future workshops.”

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✨Is there someone in your life who has been a mentor to you in an unexpected way? “My best friend (she is a former co-worker from a job I had in my early 20s) has been a ‘friend-tor’ to me. We have pursued a similar career path over the years and she remains the best person to talk to when I need to vent and problem-solve something about work. It feels like we are kind of co-mentoring each other in some ways. I turn to her for advice on program ideas and she turns to me for help with nonprofit management issues. It’s comforting to have a colleague who is also a close friend, that lives in a totally different part of the world. When I confide in her, it feels like her feedback is really impartial and there is no conflict of interest, yet she can relate to these issues so closely because of the jobs she has had over the past 15 years.”

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✨What is one positive thing you’ve seen come from the challenges we all faced during 2020?

“2020 has been the year for sparking creativity among small businesses! Everyone has tried new things to survive the year and it has been really inspiring to see what people come up with. We have managed to host several virtual fundraisers and events, all of which have been a success and generated funds for us at a time of low cash flow. If our staff have learned one thing during this pandemic, it’s that we are capable of great things under great stress.”

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✨What other small businesses/nonprofits do you admire?

"I love @thenonprofitpartnership (based in Long Beach) - they are a hub of great resources for all kinds of nonprofits, providing lots of mentorship and professional development opportunities."

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#MentorMeet

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