DHS Director receives National Mentoring honors

Despite her busy schedule as director of the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS), Maura Corrigan always makes the time to mentor two teenage girls.

As a result of her dedication to helping young people, Corrigan will receive a national award on Wednesday evening, Jan. 29 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The DHS director is one of four individuals being honored with Excellence in Mentoring Awards from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. 

Corrigan, a Wayne County resident and former Michigan Supreme Court justice, is receiving the Individual Leadership Award, which honors someone whose enduring commitment to expanding quality mentoring relationships through volunteerism, advocacy and/or fundraising has had an extraordinary impact.

While in Washington, Corrigan will spread the word about the value of mentoring. “Mentoring is the way we cut across all of the silos that create barriers to success,” she said. “One human being reaching out to another is so important. It’s only when we do it one-by-one that we can truly have an impact.”

Corrigan speaks proudly of the two sisters she and a friend have mentored for six years. They come from a difficult background, but they are thriving. The oldest has a 4.0 grade-point-average and has earned five college scholarships.

Corrigan has mentored young adults since 2005 while also volunteering her time to help local programs recruit mentors, maintain state funding and build cross-sector partnerships. She was instrumental in the passing of the Voluntary Young Adult Foster Care Act, which extends foster care supports and benefits to qualifying individuals up to age 21.

Recognizing the important role that mentors could play in the transitional period for foster care youth, Corrigan tasked Mentor Michigan, the state’s mentoring partnership, with recruiting mentors for youth in foster care with an emphasis on those about to age out of the system. She also has worked to change policies and procedures at DHS to ensure they are more “mentoring friendly” and to allow caseworkers to partner with local mentoring programs to serve youth in foster care.

“Director Corrigan embodies the type of individual mentoring champions we need to full harness the mentoring effect – that powerful and positive impact on a young person’s life when he or she has a consistent and caring relationship with an adult.” said David Shapiro, president and CEO of MENTOR. “Through her personal volunteerism and dedication, and her commitment to advancing public policy that supports mentoring, she has had a tremendous impact on the lives of young people in the state of Michigan.”

MENTOR’s mission is to close the “mentoring gap” and ensure our nation’s young people have the support they need through quality mentoring relationships to succeed at home, school and, ultimately, work as well. To achieve this, MENTOR collaborates with its Mentoring Partnership Network and works to drive the investment of time and money into high impact mentoring programs and advance quality mentoring through the development and delivery of standards, cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art tools.