Looking Toward the New Decade, ESD Global Officially Launches Its Mentorship Program

We talk to Clara Porter, ESDG’s Mentorship Coordinator to get the scoop!

In November, ESD Global welcomed a new Team Member onto its ranks to spearhead and grow our long-awaited Mentorship Program. Currently, all ESDG Training Graduates receive two years of mentorship as they go out into the wild to deliver Empowerment Self Defense skills around the world. We caught up with Clara to fill us in on her path to ESD Global and her vision of mentorship and support for its Grads.

How did you come to Empowerment Self Defense and, eventually, ESD Global?

In 1993 I picked up a flier for women's karate classes at a street fair in Brooklyn, NY. That flier lead me to Brooklyn Women's Martial Arts, now the Center for Anti-violence Education, and introduced me to a world of powerful women committed to ending violence. I spent the next 6 years training in Karate and learning to teach Empowerment Self Defense. In the mid 90s I was also introduced to the National Women's Martial Arts Federation which hosts the annual Self Defense Instructor's Conference where I became part of a huge network of amazing ESD Instructors across the US and the world.

This is also where years ago I met Yudit and in 2017 I was part of the ESD Global Incubator which informed the creation of ESD Global Inc.

In your official capacity as Mentorship Coordinator, what are your goals? What are you looking forward to the most?

I love seeing new teachers grow in their skills and bring all of what they have experienced in life and who they are to teaching ESD. My biggest goal is to craft a sustainable system that will support every ESD Global graduate in becoming both a skilled ESD Instructor and an effective advocate for ESD worldwide. I also want to help further connect the different ESD communities so that we can support and amplify one another's work. There are women who have been doing this work for 40+ years and some who are discovering it now; we all have a role to play in this movement.

What innovations will you bring to the program? Where there are useful technologies to facilitate this work we will use them but mentoring is about relationships, it's about building trust and the belief that we can all grow to be incredible instructors of this proven approach to preventing, interrupting, responding to and healing from violence.

How do you see the Mentorship Program growing and changing as we launch our Decade of Empowerment?

It is my hope that we can help graduates engage not only in teaching, but also in advocacy, in speaking out on the issues that impact cis and trans women and anyone targeted for violence and working for real institutional and cultural change.

What do you think our biggest challenges will be in scaling and how do you think we will answer them?

One of the biggest challenges is increasing the number of mentors to keep pace with the incredible growth of the program. With graduates across the globe we need to be sure that there are mentors who are accessible and understand the cultural, political, economic, and geographic realities faced by graduates in different countries and regions in implementing ESD in their communities. We'll then need to build communities of support to help ESD Global instructors continue to grow their programs after they move beyond the more intensive mentorship stage.

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