Rising Leaders Break Out Session 1

Gaining Mentors & Becoming One

Mentor, Partner, Sponsor, Competitor, Mentee--- five key relationships you need to build a successful career.  Join four successful women to learn how they have used some or all of these relationships to elevate their careers.

Session Takeaways:

  • How to find and prepare for a relationship with a mentor, partner, sponsor and how you can benefit from a competitor or mentee.

  • Sponsors & Mentors are in high demand, how do you prepare to find them, and how do present yourself?

  • What are some of the key traits you are looking for in a mentor or sponsor, and what do you hope to get out of these relationships?

  • What if you, as a mentor, are asked by superiors to mentor someone who is opposed to mentorship?

  • Why would you want to be a mentor?

  • What it takes to select the best mentor, partner or sponsor to elevate your career.

  • What do you hope to gain by securing a mentor, sponsor or partner?

  • Finding a partner is similar to finding a co-founder-look for someone whose personality and work ethic complement your own.

  • Are you doing fine without a mentor or sponsor?

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Presenter Details:

Linda L. Stevenson founder and chair for Erie ATHENA PowerLink/ATHENA Erie and retired, Senior Vice President, PNC’s Women’s Business Development Program.  Prior to her position with PNC she was named director of National City Corporation initiative for Women Business Owners in 2002. Under her leadership National City was recognized in a national study funded by the prestigious Ewing Marion Foundation as one of three banks demonstrating “best practices” in providing access to capital to women-owned businesses.


Linda is known for work with women who own businesses and for her support of female entrepreneurs and professionals.  She founded and trademarked the Women’s Economic Development Outreach Tour (WEDO); expanding it to nine states reaching over 11,000 professional women and women in business, to bring information and focused resources to them. Her greatest pride is the success of the ATHENA PowerLink program which she introduced and developed in 30 communities throughout the nation. She leveraged her position in banking to enable her to seek and establish relationships with organizations whose mission is to improve the economic status of women business owners.  She is committed to bringing people together to mentor the next generation of women.  Linda is dedicated to understanding the issues affecting women in business and forging partnerships with advocacy groups to bring women’s leadership to the forefront.  

Presenter Details:
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Linda Holman has over 25 years of human resources, customer service and leadership experience and works as Erie Insurance and HealthAmerica. She earned her MBA at Gannon University and a Bachelor's degree in Management from Penn State Erie. Linda is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources through Society of Human Resource Management and a Registered Corporate Coach through WABC.


Linda has passion for helping others discover their full potential and opened her own coaching business, Root Discovery in 2017. She has volunteered for Erie ATHENAPowerLink® program for many years and serves on the Board of Northwest Institute of Research (NWIR).


Linda is a lifelong resident of Erie, Pennsylvania.  

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Presenter Details:

Marybeth Smialek is director of Regional External Affairs, Penelec for FirstEnergy Service Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. She is responsible for directing relationship strategies to drive favorable outcomes for FirstEnergy’s strategic interests in the Penelec region.

Smialek joined Penelec in 1984 and held various positions within the Customer Service department. In 1995, she joined the Energy Service group in the Met-Ed region and was promoted to area manager in 2000, serving as a liaison between local communities and government officials. Smialek returned to Customer Service in 2008 and was promoted to manager of Compliance and Human Services. In 2013, she was promoted to manager, Supplier Services and Power Billing. She was promoted to her current position in August 2017.


Smialek graduated from Edinboro University with a bachelor’s degree in business and received her master’s degree from Penn State University-Behrend. She is the chairman of the MetEd/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund and serves as a board member of the Erie Airport Authority, American Heart Association and Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park. She is an active member of the Erie Woman’s Fund and FirstEnergy’s Helping Women Grow and Women in Leadership employee groups.

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Presenter Details:

Pam Parker is an award-winning reporter and editor from Gannett's Erie Times-News who recently retired and is now a project manager at the Erie County Historical Society - Hagen History Center in Erie. She has worked in marketing and publishing most of her life, and had careers as an account executive and media director for multiple ad agencies. She has also been a freelance writer. As the former editor of Lake Erie LifeStyle Magazine, she has written about homes, women’s issues, hard news and in-depth features. She is a proud wife, mom/stepmom of six, GramPam to seven and a wicked-good tennis player.