The value and significance of having mentors has been a constant in my life. Much of what I learned about living and leading authentically was demonstrated by the individuals who nurtured my intellect and challenged me to defy the stereotypes of race and gender and to remember to lift others as I climbed.

I began my business training while in college as an intern at Inroads, Inc., a program for talented minority high school students interested in careers in engineering and business. The Inroads principles of self-discipline, intellectual rigor and the requirement to give back to my community resonated and aligned with my own core values; values learned at home and supported by my faith. The mentors, coaches and sponsors lived the mission of Inroads and encouraged the students to excel.

I started my professional career in telecommunications and moved to the financial services industry in 1993. I chose Northern Trust due to its demonstrated commitment to excellence and its core values of service, expertise and integrity, which align with my own values. My current role as Head of Corporate Social Responsibility affords me the opportunity to leverage my varied business and community expertise to engage with our key stakeholders in demonstrating the strategic value of leadership in social, environmental and governance issues.

My leadership journey began when I joined Girl Scouts as a young girl. My leaders and mentors helped me see a world beyond my inner-city neighborhood and to pursue my highest aspirations. I learned that net worth is not the same as self worth.

My role as national president of Girl Scouts of the USA gives me the privilege of leading a 3.4 million-member organization and myriad opportunities to mentor, advocate and make a difference in the leadership experience for girls.

My commitment to mentoring is deeply ingrained in my leadership practices. Successful mentoring relationships require courage, conviction and commitment, realistic self-assessment, transparency and high levels of integrity. Shared values and a sense of purpose for the relationship will help ensure a mutually rewarding experience. I am grateful for the lessons, the leadership and the legacy my mentors have given to me.