Shareholders February 2020

From The Dean: SPU’s Stand-out Mentor Program

I’m incredibly proud of the Mentor Program, housed in the Center for Applied Learning (CAL). In all my work with other universities, I have not seen another program as customized and successful as ours.

Our program takes the time to discover exactly what a student is looking for in a mentor, and then empowers students to initiate and lead meetings, resulting in happier students and mentors.

With more than 4,000 matches in the past 23 years, students have learned from investment bankers, dieticians, psychologists, video game artists, and even a manager at one of the biggest K-Pop labels in Korea.

Ross Stewart

I hope this issue encourages you on your own professional journey as you continue to seek mentors and share your own expertise with others.

Warm Regards,

Ross Stewart


When SPU junior TaLon Camphor sat down with Mark Oppenlander for her 90-minute mentor program orientation and interview, she was surprised by his questions. 

“I thought it would be, ‘What are your educational goals?’ not ‘What’s the most challenging thing you’ve faced in your life?’” she said. 

SPU’s Mentor Program does not simply match a student with someone in their field of interest, but also finds other unique criteria identified by the student. 

“Sometimes students are looking for people who share their values, are working moms, are a specific gender, etc., in addition to the industry,” said Oppenlander, director of the Center for Applied Learning (CAL). 

He and Kate Barker, program coordinator for CAL, learn the student’s background, motivations, and desires in order to find the best job shadow or mentor fit possible. While it does take added time — especially since the program serves between 200 and 300 students from across campus each year — the program found that this extra step of customization leads to a phenomenally high success rate. For the past decade, 90 to 100% of students who respond to a survey report satisfaction with their match, a 30% increase from the mid-2000s. 

“The orientation provides an opportunity for the student to prepare to meet with a mentor,” Barker said. “They have to ask themselves, ‘What is it that I want? Why am I doing this? What are my goals and how do I articulate those?’” 

At the end of the interview students narrow down their top three criteria. Oppenlander or Barker searches for the right person in their database of 3,000 mentors and by using networking tools, such as LinkedIn. Once a student is matched they are responsible for initiating and leading all meetings. 

“We really want them to own it,” Oppenlander said. “The student’s questions or curiosity drives the discussion.” 

Camphor met with a woman close to her age at a big four accounting firm, PwC, like she requested, and said the experience confirmed her desires post-graduation. 

“It’s so important to network and get to know people outside of campus,” she said. “We are in a city full of resources.” The Mentor Program helps students leverage the resources both of Seattle and beyond.


We’d like to introduce you to two of the 3,000 mentors in SPU’s database.

Ken Hart ’93 Finance 
CEO, Cornerstone Advisors 

Ken Hart joined Cornerstone Advisors in 1994 and subsequently became chief executive officer of the firm in 2011. Hart provides strategic leadership and prioritizes the strategic direction of the firm. He enjoys bringing together teams of skilled individuals who work in tandem based on a shared set of values to create transformational experiences for Cornerstone clients. Hart also serves on the board of directors for FareStart (since 2012) and the NPH Father Wasson Legacy Endowment Fund (since 2020). 

How many students have you mentored through SPU’s Mentor Program? Three. 

What’s something you’ve learned either from a mentee or through mentoring? From each of those students I’ve been fortunate to mentor, I have been reminded of the value of curiosity. Through their eagerness to learn, insightful questions, and wide-eyed curiosity, each of the students has shown me the importance of powerful questions. 

Why mentor? I was blessed during my college years and early in my career to have impactful mentors in my life. It is a joy for me to “pay that forward” by being part of the SPU Mentor Program.

Elizabeth Berthe
Associate Director, MicroSave Consulting

Elizabeth Berthe is a Partner for MSC Consulting, a boutique consulting firm focused on financial, social, and economic inclusion. She is a digital financial service expert with over 15 years of experience gained through projects with international funding agencies, NGOs, mobile network operators, financial institutions, and other private-sector companies across sub-Saharan Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia, Haiti, and the Philippines. 

How many students have you mentored through SPU’s Mentor Program? Five total and the last three while being based in Dakar, Senegal.  

Why mentor? Mentoring gives me the opportunity to work with tomorrow’s leaders while improving my leadership skills. 

What’s something you’ve learned either from a mentee or through mentoring? You can get out of mentoring what you put into it. The student needs to be prepared in order for a mentor relationship to be successful. The mentee relationship has been good for me as a manager, as the feedback has encouraged me to modify how I work with my own teams.


We caught up with three alumni who benefited from SPU’s Mentor Program.

Quinn Pina Bartsch ’08
Partner Manager at Pinterest
BA in Marketing and Business Administration

As a student, Quinn Bartsch always wanted to work at Nordstrom’s corporate offices. SPU’s Mentor Program matched her with Denny Meadows, a Nordstrom vice president. “She was so encouraging,” Bartsch said. “She taught me how far having a respectful personality can get you in business. Oftentimes, we women think we need to embody a harder personality to compete in the business world. Denny taught me that you can be both endearing and successful.” 

Now Bartsch works at Pinterest in Seattle, where she helps her clients, such as Gap, Nike, Adidas, Levi’s, and Nordstrom, devise full-funnel marketing strategies to reach and acquire their customers on Pinterest. 

“I’m fortunate to have a fun set of clients,” she said. “It makes it easier to devise strong marketing recommendations when you’re a consumer of the brands you represent.” 

Bartsch travels regularly to meet with marketing teams all across the country and tries to live out the kindness she saw in her mentor. “Denny taught me so much about using your experience to help others,” she said. “If anyone from SPU wants to meet, I’m always willing because someone did that for me.”

Bree Brinson ’18
Program Assistant for the Abe Fellowship, Social Science Research Council
BA in International Affairs

Almost two years after graduation, you can still find Bree Brinson out to dinner or at a coffee shop with either of her two mentors in New York City. Brinson sought out the Mentor Program as an SPU senior in hopes that she could find black, women mentors with connections to New York. 

The program paired her with Michelle Merriweather, president and CEO at Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, who traveled to New York regularly, and Twyla Carter, a senior staff attorney at ACLU in New York. 

After graduation, Brinson moved to the Big Apple and looked to her mentors for encouragement. “They were guiding me and giving me down-to-earth advice,” she said. “They were telling me not to expect something right away. Telling me it’s going to be a process. Telling me it’s going to be hard. Having the more difficult advice helped me to not give up and go home.”

Brinson persevered and eventually found a job at the Social Science Resource Council, an almost 100-year-old academic institution that funds research in different areas and disciplines worldwide. She still texts her mentors regularly. “I feel very blessed that I was connected with them.”

Ben Madlena ’19
Quality Analyst at Microsoft
BA in Business Administration 

Like many young men his age, Ben Madlena grew up playing Xbox video games. Now he works for the company that creates the games. As a student, Madlena went to the Mentor Program to arrange job shadows at Expedia and Xbox. “The mentor program is huge,” Madlena said. “I think that’s the coolest thing SPU does for its students.” Read the full story at SPU Voices.


Lauren Giese ’20 has met with her mentor, a digital media expert, for almost two years. “I think my biggest takeaway for mentoring was having someone see potential in you that you don't see in yourself.”

Jordan Bettencourt ’20 has had three different mentors during his time at SPU, which has helped shape his future goals. “I’m thanking my 19-year-old self because I wouldn’t be in the position I’m at now if I hadn’t participated in the Mentor Program.”


Leverage your passion for data with our high-demand MS-DAB degree, which will also be available in a 100% online format starting this fall. The MS-DAB degree offers first-class data analytics education through the lens of the Christian faith and values. Watch your inbox for news on upcoming information sessions this spring. Applications are due August 1.

Faith & Co


Faith & Co. has released its second season, Serving Employees, which explores how faith shapes the way organizations engage with and manage employees. Filmed across six states, the films feature stories of companies wrestling with the practical challenges of implementing scriptural principles in the workplace. This season includes eight documentary films, a large collection of expert interviews, and an online course which started on January 13. The first version of the course, Business on Purpose, will be offered again in the spring. We hope to see you in one of the courses!



Did you know that SPU’s Mentor Program is only 40% funded through the University’s budget? The Center for Applied Learning raises the other 60% through sponsorships, grants, and individual donors. Each mentor match costs about $325, so your support is valuable! 

Join us for Annual Giving Day on March 4 to support the Mentor Program and Faith & Co., SPU’s free instructor-led course about faith and business. Your gift can be in any amount, and you can designate your gift to go to a specific cause or program that you would like to support. Please support SBGE programs and spread the word!

frank haas integrity in business award given to C. william pollard

In 2019 the Frank Haas Integrity in Business Award was awarded to C. William “Bill” Pollard. Pollard is Chairman of Fairwyn Investment Company, a private investment firm, and spent more than 25 years in the leadership of The ServiceMaster Company serving not once but twice as its chief executive officer. Pollard has also served as a director of several public companies and a number of charitable, religious, and educational organizations, including Wheaton College and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has written several books, including the bestseller, The Soul of the Firm, and his most recent book, The Tides of Life.

aacsb renews accreditation

The School of Business, Government, and Economics was delighted to learn that its Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation was extended another five years. AACSB accreditation is known worldwide as the most recognized form of specialized/professional accreditation an institution and its business programs can earn. SBGE is proud to be among the 5% of business schools in the world and 30% of business schools in North America that are AACSB accredited. 

AACSB holds its members accountable with a rigorous accreditation process as well as a regular continuous improvement review process that ensures business schools are delivering the best in business education. AACSB-accredited since 2000, SBGE is proud to be a provider of specialized, quality education.

Dean's speakers series

On Monday, October 28, we welcomed Chad Cohen, chief financial officer of Adaptive Biotechnologies, to campus for the Dean’s Speaker Series. Cohen leads his company’s finance and accounting functions, oversees human resources and facilities management, and is an active mentor in SPU’s Mentor Program.