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Guest Blog: LightBox Developing Leaders Mentee Viewpoint – Maddie Witkowski

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LightBox Insights
November 1, 2022 3 mins

“As a graduating mentee in the Lightbox Developing Leaders mentorship program—Class of 2020/2021, I’m most grateful for the assist in getting back into the swing of things after a global pandemic.”

I participated in the LightBox Developing Leaders program as a mentee of the Class of 2020/2021 after my boss encouraged me to apply. I had originally flagged the invitation email with little intention of completing the application, but looking back, I am so glad I did!

I have always been very eager to learn and strive for continuing education opportunities. Once I was accepted to the program, my hope was to achieve a better understanding of different roles within and beyond the scope of my job assignments. I knew what an important role my current position held, but I wanted to better grasp on how my work impacted other fields and professionals. With this knowledge, I hoped to implement and remind myself of goals beyond my position, so that I could keep my projects fresh and aligned with industry targets.

My mentor, Michael Bell, is the President of his own company, Bell Oldow, Inc., an environmental consulting and risk management firm. Michael was always eager to provide me with connections and paths for topics I showed interested in. From day one, even though I didn’t have the goal of one day owning my own company, Michael was an advocate for me to build my own personal brand: Madison, Inc. Through his lessons and gentle reminders during our scheduled meetings, I built a repertoire of skills and contacts that will allow me to turn my passions into realistic goals. Michael recognized my greener insights as a recent college graduate and seasoned them with his years of experience to encourage my future as a leader.

What I most enjoyed about the Developing Leaders Program was the level of commitment and involvement by everyone in the program. After facing a global pandemic, it was difficult for me to get back into the swing of things. My experience in the program wasn’t just about the 1:1 meetings with Michael. The mentee program provided a comfortable and professional setting for me to interact with other mentees and mentors and the Board of Governors through book club discussions, Q&A sessions with industry leaders, and online happy hours. The planned program events were always welcoming, and I felt safe in making comments and expressing my opinions.

After graduating from the program, I think the greatest benefit I walked away with was the boost in my confidence level. Whether it was being challenged by my mentor or delivering my Elevator Pitch to the Board of Governors, I gained techniques that are crucial for building my career. I am also encouraged to pass along the knowledge I gained to other peers and friends going though similar situations and have already recommended the program to a few other young professionals. I am grateful to Michael and the program for the positive impact it has had on my own career and personal development!


Madison Witkowski is an Environmental Consultant II with Aeterra, LLC and is based in Chicago, IL. Madison has a B.S. in Geological Sciences from Michigan State University and has been working in environmental consulting since 2019. She has experience conducting Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments, as well as other site investigations, for clients in the industrial, commercial, and agricultural sectors. Outside of work, Madison spends her time enjoying the outdoors and exploring new areas of the city.

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