January 25, 2024

Read Time

No one should have to map a path and navigate challenges alone.

For January’s National Mentoring Month, we’re reflecting on how quality coaching provides opportunities in helping students recognize their talents and interests, choose a career goal, map pathways through education, and navigate challenges along the way.

Here at Strada, we took a moment to think about the mentors who shaped our paths, both as students and as professionals.


Headshot of Amy Wimmer Schwarb, smiling at the camera. “The first time I met Rob Hooker, I was a sunburned 20-year-old college student from the Midwest who was visiting Florida for the first time. I had spent the previous weekend underestimating the Sunshine State’s June sun. Rob’s first words to me on the first day of my internship were: “I see you’ve found our beaches.”

I was embarrassed. It wasn’t the first impression I had hoped to make on my editor, a distinguished journalist at Florida’s largest newspaper who had edited a Pulitzer winner and would go on to edit more Pulitzer finalists. But I soon learned Rob’s plain language and understated humor were part of his superpower ability to bring out a reporter’s best work. Rob didn’t rewrite you — he posed precise questions that provided clarity so you could rewrite yourself.

To me, that is the essence of a mentor: someone who believes in you, respects your work, and invests in making you better. From Rob I learned about the power of rhythm in writing, the art of navigating a difficult story, and, I suppose, the value of sunscreen.” 

Amy Wimmer Schwarb,
Director of Content


Headshot of Anne Poynter, smiling at the camera.“My move to business management consulting came by way of a friend introducing me to the owner of her firm. Nick Taylor took an interest in my abilities, but most importantly — me as a person.  He spent time discussing my strengths and helped with a plan for how to overcome my weaknesses. In the first year, he simply spent TIME with me. I learned so much from him on how to genuinely care about and serve customers. He not only taught me a lot; he inspired me to seek excellence in the work.”

Anne Poynter, Vice President,
Operations Services


Headshot of Davina P. Biddle, smiling at the camera.“Several mentors have shared valuable guidance over the years, but the most impactful to my career path have been sponsors — senior leaders who opened doors to growth opportunities. My sponsors have included influential managers, executives, and community leaders who supported my evolving career interests, placed me on visible committees, recommended me for advancement, and championed me when I wasn’t in the room. Each opportunity expanded my network and helped me develop a skill set that is beneficial to my role at Strada.”

Davina P. Biddle,
Vice President and Associate General Counsel


Headshot of Gabriella Gomez, smiling at the camera“In 1996, as a sophomore political science major at Loyola Marymount University, Dr. Genovese provided me with an opportunity to work as his research assistant. Not only did this research path allow me access into the daily work of a research professor, it helped provide me with the confidence to engage with researchers and see myself as someone with some talents to share. Fast forward to my senior year when Dr Genovese recommended me for an internship to work at the House of Commons in London. As a California native who had never left the state, I was scared and unsure of my abilities to succeed across the pond. Dr. Genovese’s gentle push and unwavering support provided me with that base of courage. I visit Dr. Genovese to this day and share my appreciation for believing in my ability to contribute and succeed.” 

Gabriella Gomez,
Executive Vice President, Policy, Advocacy, and Communications