Tanya Gray is the former Executive Director for Keep Temple Beautiful. She served in the non-profit sector as an advocate, community builder and organizer for over 20 years with over 15 years of experience in economic, community and business development. Tanya developed programs in MS and TX. Before moving to Fort Hood, she worked with the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus and the Attorney General’s office, helping to bring change to the State of MS by improving the economic well being and quality of living for communities. Prior to her appointment of KTB Executive Director, she was elected to the position of Village Mayor for one of the Fort Hood communities where she advised on policy, planning, and operational matters beneficial to military families. She is an avid supporter of efforts that involve community development initiatives. Tanya holds dual MBAs in International Business and Finance.
Tanya recently moved to the Houston area where we hope we can work with her again in the non-profit arena. She was an outstanding mentor and affiliate coordinator and will be sorely missed. We wish Tanya the best of luck in her future and celebrate her for helping to keep Texas beautiful!
Why did you choose to become a mentor?
“Keep Texas Beautiful has such a smart and inclusive way of involving its affiliate organizations, where they understand the value of having executive directors and coordinators sitting on their board of directors. The value of having that type of input is incalculable. I know because I am a former Affiliate Chair who represented the over 300 affiliates. In saying that, as part of the board there were a number of committees that I chaired. At that time, we didn’t have a mentor committee but the questions were, “How do we get affiliates more involved with one another and how to bring back those affiliates who were no longer active?, How can affiliates whether new or old get guidance when needed?, How do we get other entities involved who want to become an affiliate but don’t know where to start?” In sitting down with staff, we created the mentor program based upon a former business mentoring model that I created and oversaw prior to my coming to Texas. That program thrived because of the hands-on approach between mentors and mentees. That’s what we wanted to achieve with the Keep Texas Beautiful program. So, there’s no way I was not going to be part of something that could help other affiliates, knowing that could assist them in their mobility to achieve greater things for their communities – impacting lives.”
What is your favorite part about being a mentor?
“Often the most valuable advice comes from someone who has been down the road you are traveling. Helping others to maneuver around those pitfalls could be the difference of an affiliate achieving success and getting a program or project up and running. There is no better way to foster and support other affiliates than through the Keep Texas Beautiful’s mentor program. It’s doing what it was designed to do – help others and connect affiliates. So, my most rewarding part is when a mentee informs me that implementing the idea or advice given has helped them in a certain way, whether it is with a program or assisting them in bringing their board together to achieve goals that benefit the organization or the community or just getting their organization up and running.”
What is the hardest part about being a mentor?
“I would say a couple of things – one would be deciding on the best course of action for your mentee. I’ve found that listening to their challenges and identifying solutions that are achievable often times make all the difference. Another issue is the lack of not always having enough time for your mentee and feeling guilty due to the lack thereof. The positive side is that as affiliates whether nonprofit or city affiliated we often times do the job of 10 people so we are all very aware of the work that has to be done and although we may try, we can’t achieve everything in a day. As the old saying goes, “Tomorrow is another day”.”
How helpful are the KTB resources given to you when mentoring?
“Having the right mentoring resources and tools is key to a successful relationship. The support provided from Keep Texas Beautiful staff is monumental in this process and to the success of the program. When I first began with Keep Temple Beautiful nearly 14 years ago, I learned from Keep Texas Beautiful to be S.M.A.R.T (Specific – simple, sensible in my application of programs, Measurable – meaningful, Achievable – attainable goals, Relevant – realistic, results based, Time bound – time/cost limited(we are a nonprofit after all). In essence, when I interact with my mentee I keep in mind what I’ve learned throughout the years and how that has guided my organization on its journey.”
Mentor Program Information
Are you interested in connecting with a more seasoned affiliate to help learn the ropes of KTB and get inspired with new ideas? Are you an affiliate who’s ready to pass along your knowledge to other up and coming affiliates? Each mentee is paired with a mentor for at least one year and reaches out to provide guidance at least four times during the year. If being a mentee is something you’re interested in, please fill out this brief form so we can best match you with an appropriate mentor. If you would like to get started on becoming a mentor, please fill out this form or contact Sara Walters at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information