Think of One to One Mentoring and what comes to mind? Mentors and mentees hiking or doing homework together? Group art projects at Ah Haa? Top Chef & Taste of Telluride, the nonprofit’s fun summer fundraiser?
How about working in multi-agency teams to support kids — and their families — in a multitude of ways, connecting them with everything from local food resources to eyeglasses and mental health services?
Or matching a young person in need of companionship with a trusted and caring mentor?
Or supporting mentors with evidence-based training, advice specific to their mentee and information about community resources?
For nearly nine years, a typical day in the life of One to One Mentoring Program Manager Kathleen Morgan might have included any or all of the above.
That is, until Friday, which was Morgan’s last day working for the nonprofit that she describes as “an organization that is deeper than just matching adults and kids — we support mentees, their families and mentors in so many ways.”
Morgan’s work over the years included running a number of mentoring programs, as well as case management for dozens of client families across San Miguel County.
The Lawson Hill resident acknowledged the intensity of her work, but stressed that her interactions with mentors and mentees and their families brought her joy and satisfaction over the years.
“A good match is an amazing thing to see,” Morgan said. “To witness the growth of the mentee, as well as the mentor, is hard to describe. I want to use words like ‘gratifying’ or ‘enjoyable’ — and it is gratifying and enjoyable — but it’s also so much more.”
For Executive Director Tara Kelley, Morgan’s relationship with One to One Mentoring isn’t ending so much as it is evolving.
Kelley pointed out that while Morgan served as program manager for nearly nine years, her involvement with One to One Mentoring extends back to the nonprofit’s founding in the 1990s, when she worked closely with the nascent organization as a Telluride School District teacher.
“She isn’t just an employee of One to One, she is someone who was there at the beginning, when the organization was just getting started,” Kelley said. “She has always been involved in One to One. I will miss Kathleen’s dedication and her professionalism, and I will miss her personally, but she will always be part of One to One.”
Hilary Taylor is a One to One Mentoring board member and mentor. She recalled a first meeting with Morgan nearly a decade ago.
“It feels like yesterday I interviewed to be a mentor and I was her first match nine years ago,” Taylor recalled. “Kathleen is so thoughtful and nurturing with each match she makes and it shows with the longevity and emotional connection between mentors and mentees. We have shared many laughs through the years and I am grateful for her friendship.”
Taylor added, “We are so sad to see Kathleen move on from One to One, but wish her nothing but the best. Her accomplishments during her tenure give us a lot to build on for the future.”
Amy Levek has been a mentor for more than eight years and described Morgan’s departure as “the end of an era”.
Said Levek, “While Kathleen has been an incredible resource — providing training, giving advice on activities and other things a mentor needs to know — she's also gone above and beyond, anticipating what my mentee might need, able to negotiate tricky situations with school issues and always bringing love and compassion to everything she does.”
She added, “I will miss having her there. But I know that she’ll always be using her talents and doing something to make the community a better place.”
Kelley echoed Levek in noting the deep commitment Morgan has to the wider community.
“She’s so committed to Telluride in so many ways,” said the One to One Mentoring executive director. “It’s her many years living here. It’s that she’s involved in everything. It’s that everyone knows her because she’s involved in everything. She has been the most successful program manager because of her devotion to the community and her deep ties to the community. It’s why One to One is so successful and it is why Kathleen will be hard to replace.”
Indeed, since arriving in Telluride 30 years ago, Morgan has worked primarily in the education and nonprofit sectors. Before her arrival at One to One Mentoring, she taught for 15 years in the school district, where Morgan established the district’s English Language Learner program. She served as director of the Telluride Adult English Classes program for 12 years, and currently serves on the Latinx Advocacy Committee, San Miguel County Unmet Needs and Alliance for Inclusion. Morgan is also a longtime staff member for the Telluride AIDS Benefit, Mountainfilm and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
She’ll be missed by her client families, according to parent Rebeca Gutierrez, who has known Morgan for 18 years and whose children have been involved with One to One Mentoring.
“Kathleen is the best woman in the world,” Gutierrez said. “She has helped the Latino community a lot. She’s amazing and all the time tried to help and give her love to the kids. She always tried to match the kids with the right person. She is the best. We are really going to miss her.”
For her part, Morgan said she plans to enjoy hiking and visiting family this summer, before exploring new options.
“I am going to really miss my families, mentors and the community network that I have been working with,” she said. “Together, we have made a difference in the lives of so many residents of San Miguel County — the kids, their families, the mentors. I’m proud of what we have accomplished together.”