Excellence in Mentoring Awards

3 adult men and 2 young men standing in front of staircase holding awards

2022 Excellence in Mentoring Award winners
with Lt. Governor Adam Gregg
Matt Guess with mentee, Mike Leerar with mentee


2022 Excellence in Mentoring Award Winners

Adult male and male youth in front of toys in store

Matt Guess, West Des Moines, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa

Matt has mentored with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa for almost 8 years. He is passionate about mentoring and shares the positive effects for both mentor and mentee with current and potential mentors. He leads by example and other mentors strive to follow his lead. Matt has been responsible for recruiting many new mentors.

Not only has Matt developed a great relationship with his mentee, Tedrick, he has also developed a positive relationship with Tedrick’s mother and the rest of their family to strategize ways that Matt can build Tedrick’s strengths. Through Matt’s consistency, friendship, and support, Tedrick has become a happy, positive young man with a great group of friends.

Matt has taught his mentee life skills through everyday experiences such as completing home improvement projects, fixing a flat bike tire, or doing yard work. He encourages Tedrick to learn new hobbies and has helped him access programs to pursue them.

Tedrick shared that his grades have been “above average” since meeting Matt and that his family and peer relationships are “overall enjoyable” and that he has a “good support system in place.” He attributes all those things to the close relationship he has with his best friend Matt.

Beyond their one-on-one time together, Matt and Tedrick have done a tremendous job of incorporating their families into their mentoring relationship as well, which has made the whole mentoring experience stronger for all involved. They have had and will continue to have a great impact on each other’s lives.

Headshot of bald man in dark plaid shirt

Mike Leerar, Garner, One on One Mentoring

Mike Leerar has been volunteering as a mentor for almost 17 years with One on One Mentoring GHV (Garner-Hayfield-Ventura) and was one of the very first mentors. Mike’s long-term commitment has provided four different mentees support and encouragement. His outgoing, warm personality has been instrumental to his mentoring role over the years. His longevity has also proved to be an asset to the program itself through providing ongoing leadership to other mentors, offering wisdom in policy making, and being a community ambassador for the mentoring program.

Mike recognizes the value that the One on One Mentoring program offers, not only to kids but to the mentors that volunteer. He has consistently shared that he gets as much or more out of participating as the kids do and looks for ways to share that enthusiasm with others. It is clear to anyone that talks to him that Mike genuinely enjoys mentoring and has a sense for the type of person who might be a good fit as a mentor volunteer.

Mentees have connected with Mike quickly and they sense his genuine care. He works hard to truly get to know his mentees, listening to their needs and making sure they are truly heard. Mike has a strong passion for seeing kids utilize their interests and strengths to pursue career goals. Through his own experience in career transition, he is able to offer encouragement and guidance to help kids have a vision for their own future.

The One on One Mentoring program has a deep appreciation for Mike, his efforts with kids over the years, and his inspirational nature. The contributions that Mike has provided to the program and his four mentees over the years are invaluable. 

Established in 2009, the Excellence in Mentoring Awards gives Iowa Mentoring Partnership (IMP) certified programs the opportunity to recognize outstanding long-time youth mentors. Individuals selected have served as a mentor a minimum of two years and exemplify both the spirit and positive benefits of mentoring. Mentors are selected based on their advocacy and leadership in mentoring, innovation, impact, commitment to their mentee, the match relationship, and the program itself. Many recipients possess a compelling mentoring story that illustrates the Excellence in Mentoring Award is the most prestigious honor that a youth mentor in Iowa can receive.