I knew after working in event services during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics that I had a passion for global sports, and I was certain that WISE would be the perfect outlet for me. What I didn’t know was that things would drastically change for me less than a year later.
After joining WISE in August 2010 and acquiring an impressive list of contacts, I applied to the WISE Within mentor program. Having worked in television production for MTV Networks and event operations for the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, I had a strong events background. But I was fairly new to the wide world of sports and had aspirations of gaining greater insight into the industry. I was looking forward to having direct contact with a professional who could help me develop … well, my professionalism. In the process, I not only gained invaluable mentorship, but I also made a new friend.
I had been a mentee in the past, but wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I was accepted into WISE Within. I was immediately impressed with the program provided by the San Francisco chapter. The leadership of Piper Lee Cook, Sarah Flores, Christie Lenox and Meredith McCurdy was welcoming from the start, and I was especially pleased when I met my mentor, Leah Tuffanelli.
Leah is a business and legal advisor for MATCH Services AG, a company based in Zurich, Switzerland, that provides ticketing, accommodation and IT services to global sports organizations, primarily Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). I was excited about meeting Leah, learning about the inner workings of such a company and gaining knowledge and advice from our interactions. We met monthly at local establishments in the city.
After several meetings and months later, I was diagnosed with glaucoma. Having 20/20 vision and no prior eye issues, I was dismayed to discover that I had a chronic progressive eye disease with no prior family history. Since my diagnosis, I have chosen to share my story with the Glaucoma Research Foundation in an effort to create greater awareness around eye health.
Leah and I had a meeting scheduled about two weeks after I was diagnosed. She not only was a tremendous help in consoling me, but also was familiar with the disease and helpful in providing information that put me at ease. Talk about a mentor! I am happy to report that my glaucoma is well controlled and my vision is holding strong at 20/20. I am hoping it stays that way forever.
I believe the key to any beneficial mentor-mentee relationship is mutual respect, and that’s definitely something that Leah and I maintain. Our relationship is one that is both professional and personal, and I am thankful to WISE Within for offering this opportunity.