USITT’s Gateway Program is a mentorship opportunity for students from underrepresented populations within our industry. A professional mentor for a similar background and career path will guide and maximize each mentee’s experience at the USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo.
In 2020, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee is changing the program from a single year endeavor to a two-year Conference commitment. Each year, there will be six new Gateway mentees with six new Gateway mentors. The pair will develop a stronger, more meaningful relationship as there will be structured, year-round interactions book-ended by two Conferences.
At the second Conference, the previous year's mentees will become peer mentors for the new cohort of six mentees in addition to their professional mentors. There will still be 12 Gateway mentees in any given year — a first-year and a second-year cohort. This will continue the spirit and heritage of the Gateway Program while strengthening the Institute, and consequently, our industry.
Why the change? This model expands the opportunities for early career support and professional development before, during, and after the Conference, strengthens the role of the mentor in the field, and creates an environment where peer-mentorship happens very naturally.
“This is the next step for this incredible mentorship program,” said Board member and ED&I Committee chairperson Tony Hardin. “Gateway was started in memory of Tayneshia Jefferson to empower and engage under-represented populations in our industry. This next step will only increase its impact.”