By Evan Casey
A mentor is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an experienced and trusted adviser.” At Under My Wing Inc., that term is taken very seriously as this Milwaukee non-profit has been positively impacting young women’s lives across Milwaukee for years.
Under My Wing is an all-girls mentoring organization whose mission is to foster a safe environment for young ladies where they can cultivate leadership through life coaching. They offer numerous amounts of mentoring workshops that are designed for character and relationship building and life-skills management, according to the CEO and founder, Lea Hortman.
Hortman started this organization after she was helped by various individuals throughout her own life, including her own Aunt, Erin Breen.
“Spending time together through community events, family outings, and educational conversations, Erin became the guardian angel I always needed,” says Hortman. “Erin was a safe place, a place where I could gain wisdom from, and develop as a young lady.”
Hortman looks to mirror the ways that her Aunt helped her through her own life. Under My Wing focuses on mentoring middle and high school girls. They provide life coaching through the form of educational settings, such as group or one-onone mentoring sessions.
The target population for this non-profit is girls ranging from the ages of 11-18.
Makayla Jefferson, a senior in High School, has been involved with Under My Wing since the summer of 2017. Being a victim of bullying, Under My Wing helped overcome that.
“Ms. Hortman inspires me to become a stronger leader, and to strengthen my relationship with not only myself, but with God,” said Jefferson. “Under my Wing always creates a safe space to share my story and not once are you judged.”
In 2017, Under My Wing mentored 12 girls over the course of nine months, completing seven workshops and three field trips.
They hope to mentor more young women across the city.
Brianna Nimox used to be a volunteer but has since become a full-time partner with Hortman. She echoes Hortman’s goals for the organization.
“Lea and I have done a lot of volunteer work in the community doing what we love to do: mentor,” said Nimox. “I think it’s time that we start promoting and making ourselves accessible to the government, the community, and other agencies who could use our services.”
Hortman has been helping the community since 2012 and she hopes to continue her work well into the future. She will be graduating from UW-Milwaukee in the spring with a degree in social work.
“I believe in doing the grassroots work here and ultimately leading by example,” says Hortman. “This organization has become my way.”