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Thank Your Mentor Spotlight: Gregg Behr

One of my mentors is...

Robert Payton


This person had such a big impact on my life because...

I experienced the great privilege of studying alongside Robert Payton in 1995-96, during a graduate fellowship year at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Mr. Payton, as we called him, was a renaissance man from a bygone era. And he had a renaissance-like sensibility, too. His thinking was always interdisciplinary, blending the arts with the sciences, the technological with the humanities, and the aspirational with the practical. He prompted me to think and write and talk differently. He challenged me with hard, moral questions; he grounded me in what was ethical and good. And he encouraged me to pursue my interests to become a public servant (what he called a “public teacher”), whether in government, politics, or civil society. He left me to wrestle with lots of big ideas – even still, after all these years.


Why is mentoring important for everyone?

A mentor, simply put, is someone with whom you maintain an authentic relationship. That person isn’t typically a family member, or even really a friend, but rather someone with whom you can trust your own thinking and do so out loud. For me, Mr. Payton was that person, especially at a transformative age in my life. I will forever value his counsel – even the creative tension – that he offered so freely, so genuinely, and so meaningfully.


A message for my mentor...

While Mr. Payton passed nearly a decade ago, his imprint remains upon me and all of his former students around the globe. To the heavens, I say, “Thank you.

As community leaders and as servant leaders, we are heartbroken by the recent tragedies and know that a genuine and ongoing commitment to real change is necessary to confront and combat racism.  We stand in solidarity with our peers, our neighbors, our colleagues and our friends with an even stronger resolve to be present, to listen, to learn and to act.  If there’s one thing we’ve learned in our 25 years of serving the community, it’s this: 

We are stronger together

We are committed to actively fighting racism and to using our voices for better.  We will continue to bring strength and hope; to foster meaningful conversations around change; to deliver services that are inclusive and will support all.  We encourage you to join us and find ways to improve race relations in our community and beyond.  Let’s all work toward better – better connection, better allyship, better love for one another.  Let’s work together to make this world a better place for our kids.  Now is the time and they’re depending on us.