Thank Your Mentor Spotlight: Bill Strickland

Someone who has been a mentor to me...

Fred Rogers and Frank Ross. I appeared on the first series of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood shows and Mr. Rogers celebrated my creative work in ceramics and also my desire to build a center to help inner city students and improve the neighborhood where I lived. Mr. Rogers encouraged me to build that center and in years to come, he visited Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and we made a second show during his visit. He remains an important role model for the entire world and for me personally.

Frank Ross was an important teacher in my life and opened up the world of ceramics and education to me as an inner city high school student. He assisted me in getting into college and founding Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a thriving ceramic arts and visual arts program for inner city students. Frank was tragically killed in a car accident but his work and spirit live on in the many thousands of children who continue to experience the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild programs.

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

Fred and Frank both were steadfast in their belief in me as a person who could contribute to the world and, in spite of growing up poor, was able to receive a valuable education and build a center to help others. These men did so well during their lives. They created a path for many others to follow, which I believe is the core to leadership and mentorship.

Why is mentoring important for everyone?

Mentorship conveys life experience and knowledge to others seeking to improve themselves but who may not possess the confidence and vision to directly change their lives. It is the relationship that a good mentor creates that is the key to long-term successes on the part of the mentee and the mentor. It is by definition a long-term investment in an individual that creates a measurable and successful outcome.

A message for my mentor...

As both my mentors are deceased, I can say thank you in the way I have chosen to live out my life and the work my center continues to produce.

We'd love to have you join us as we honor Bill and celebrate mentoring at our Magic of Mentoring event on October 26th!  Click here for additional info and to purchase your tickets.  Cheers to mentoring!


Whether it’s in-person, virtual or hybrid, supportive relationships matter. Young people need strong connections with caring adults who can help them thrive.  Click here to make a contribution to our year-end campaign.  Together, we can ensure that all kids are surrounded by 360 degrees of mentoring support -- in school, at home and in the community!