A perfect fit: How King County’s Mentorship Program develops employees 

Pictured: From left, Mentee Mary Lear and Mentor Chris Ynzunza.

As Mary scrolled through the database of potential mentors a quote caught her attention: “I believe in having a ‘growth mindset.’ I think our potential exceeds our awareness, and the benefits of having someone guide your thinking in that direction can be incredibly helpful. Seeing someone make intentional choices about their next step in their careers will be very gratifying.”

“I recognized the support I needed when I read this approach to mentoring before we were matched, said Mary Lear, Capital Project Manager, Department of Natural Resources and Parks. “Getting to meet Chris and talk to her has helped me learn more about the County structure and leadership.”

Christine (Chris) Ynzunza, Human Resources Manager, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, ended up being the perfect match for Mary. Prior to making the mentor-mentee relationship official, Mary and Chris took part in the Mentorship Orientation. The purpose of the training was to allow both parties to learn more about the program, learn more about each other, and to form the foundation needed for a successful mentoring relationship.

“One of the great things about working with Mary is that she came with a lot of questions and ideas and professional goals,” said Chris. “She always comes prepared with thoughts and questions, and she is very proactive – willing to take steps, risks, and get out of her comfort zone. For me it’s been really gratifying.”

Whether a mentor or mentee, mentoring is a beneficial and rewarding partnership that encourages professional and personal development in powerful ways. Mentors get a chance to improve their coaching skills, help engage and empower others, and give back to the success of King County. Mentees get to build relationship with a trusted advisor, assess their strengths and challenges, and have someone to help them navigate complex situations.

“Ever since I became a professional I’ve known that it’s important to have at least one mentor,” said Mary “We’re a good match. Chris has said that I have come with questions, but she has been open to hearing them.”

The program launched in September 2017. Mary and Chris began meeting near the start of the program in November 2017, and since then have continued to meet monthly.

“This program is giving people an opportunity to share knowledge and help employees in ways they didn’t know they could, and that’s a gift,” said Chris. “This is another way to give back to the County where you get just as much from it. It’s a great opportunity to share your knowledge that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

There are currently around 200 employees taking part in the King County Mentorship Program. As King County continues to nourish a learning culture, mentoring is set to play an important role in the “Investing in You” strategy.

To sign up and learn more about the program employees should register for the King County Mentoring Program lunch and learn. During the sessions, participants will learn about the program, including the application process and how to select a mentor.