iMentor Presents Julian Robertson Mentoring Award, Celebrates Mentoring with Darren Walker and Clara Wu Tsai


NEW YORK, November 10, 2022—iMentor celebrated mentoring at its annual benefit on Monday, November 7 and bestowed the inaugural Julian Robertson Mentoring Award on longtime mentor Sherman Reid. Co-chaired by Amy and John Griffin, the Champions Dinner took place at The Pool Lounge and featured New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Justin Tuck, two-time Super Bowl winner and former defensive end for the New York Giants, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, and Clara Wu Tsai, founder of the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation.

The gala raised $1.34 million for iMentor’s mentoring program, which helps students from marginalized communities navigate high school, graduate college and embark on meaningful careers.

“At its core, mentorship is about inviting a young person into a universe that they were not aware existed and allowing them the opportunity to explore,” said Mayor Adams. “Mentorship goes beyond just academic. Because of my own experience with a mentor, I was able to live a productive life and reach my full potential.

John Griffin, who founded iMentor and Blue Ridge Capital, presented the Julian Robertson Mentoring Award to Sherman Reid. Named for Griffin’s mentor, who inspired him to establish the mentoring nonprofit, the award showcases a mentor who exemplifies the three pillars that made Robertson so special: mentorship, community, and philanthropy.

“Julian showed me the power of mentorship, and I am sure he would be incredibly proud to see his legacy living on through the thousands of iMentor students,” said Griffin.

Over the last 10 years, Reid has mentored three students and served as a staunch advocate for iMentor, referring more than 130 mentors and actively promoting the nonprofit at Bloomberg, where he has worked for the past 17 years. He helped solidify the iMentor-Bloomberg partnership to expand iMentor’s mentor education program, and serves as co-chair of iMentor NYC’s Leadership Board.

“Next gen leaders will need all our support. Given the last few years of disrupted schooling, isolation, learning loss, and increased mental health needs, students will benefit more than ever from mentorship,” said iMentor CEO Dr. Heather D. Wathington. “Thank you for investing in mentoring relationships so that more students can dream bigger and be the leaders they are meant to be.”

Tuck, host of the event, noted his mentors in philanthropy, finance, and sports: Cory Booker, Rich Buery, Paul Tudor Jones, Michael Strahan, and Coach Tom Coughlin. “It is impossible to quantify the true value of mentorship because it is so personal. I know because I’ve had a lifetime of mentors,” said Tuck, who is a managing director at Goldman Sachs. “Without them, this Alabama kid could never have made it in the big city.”

Darren Walker and Clara Wu Tsai spoke in a fireside chat, the highlight of the evening’s program. The conversation touched on the connection between mentoring and diversity, mentors past and present, and BK-XL, Wu Tsai’s newly launched accelerator.

What iMentor does, noted Walker, is support “young people who often simply need to be told that they are important and that they matter, and that they can actually have dreams in America—something that so many young people, particularly young people of color, no longer seem to believe is attainable.”

Wu Tsai highlighted the importance of mentoring as a way to increase opportunity and representation at all levels.

“For a lot of women who are executives, what they lack is sometimes just access to networks. I think we've all heard of the Old Boys' Club, and it really is a real thing,” said Wu Tsai. “For many years, men have created and fostered these support networks to boost each other and to help each other professionally. And in most cases, women and people of color have just been excluded from that. So what I would love is for everyone in this room to take that as something that we can all be a part of changing. Understand that networking is a big part of mentorship. And if you do have a seat at the table, create opportunities in order to have more representation in your workplace.”

Walker spoke of the mentoring he received as a young adult. “All of a sudden, I'm in the biggest law firm in Houston, Texas, and expected to comport myself and be a summer associate. And go to the River Oaks Country Club and have lunch and do all of these things that were completely foreign to a small-town Texas boy,” said Walker. “There were mentors who took me aside, who gave me direction—caring people using their privilege, using their knowledge, their network, their resources, and extending it to me, as iMentor mentors do every day. So this is why the work of this organization is so critical. It's so important to this city and to these young people and their families.”

The program also featured “Pitching for Dreams,” a video about Kevin Villanueva, an iMentor mentee who is pursuing his goal of becoming an entrepreneur with support from his mentor, Cal Mullan.

Follow social media from the evening by searching for the hashtag #ChampionsDinner2022.

About iMentor

iMentor builds mentoring relationships that empower students from marginalized communities to graduate high school, succeed in college and career, and achieve their ambitions. iMentor was founded in 1999 by John Griffin, Richard Buery and Matt Klein. Launched with just 49 students in a single school in the South Bronx, iMentor has served nearly 40,000 students through direct-service programs in Baltimore, the Bay Area, Chicago, and New York City, and through partnerships with local non-profit organizations that implement the iMentor model in communities across the country.


Shari Mason
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