Mentorship is where an individual with more experience (often a peer or someone older) guides a less experienced person on key areas of development or growth. For professional mentorship, this may include guidance on professional development, skill acquisition, navigating interactions in the workplace, and/or balancing work life with personal life. Mentorship is distinct from coaching or sponsorship in that it involves a certain degree of relationship building between the mentor and mentee—the mentor must be someone the mentee can trust, turn to when faced with challenges, and can confide in to promote wellness and personal growth.1 In the most successful mentoring relationships, there is mutual respect, compassion, and empathy, providing a strong foundation for meeting the goals of the mentoring relationship.


The goal of mentorship under CROWN is to pair nutrition professionals with mentors who can meet their personal goals for professional development, skill building, and promotion of well-being in their lives at work, at home, and beyond. We use a mentee-centered approach that focuses on the individual needs of the mentee.1 In order to measure outcomes of the mentoring relationship, we use an adapted version of the mentoring competencies described by Fleming et al.2, including 1) maintaining effective communication, 2) aligning expectations, 3) providing skills and knowledge for success, 4) addressing diversity, 5) fostering independence, and 6) promoting professional development.


Michelle Kaufman, PhD, is a leading expert in e-mentorship, or the use of communications technology with mentoring practices and is leading the mentoring component of the CROWN Project. With funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, and the Gates Foundation in collaboration with the National Mentoring Partnership, Dr. Kaufman has been studying how technology and social media can be combined with mentoring to improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations. Much of her work has been focused on adolescent and young adult populations at risk for substance use, mental distress, and/or sexual risk behavior. She also leads a large global project funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies spanning 40+ low- and middle-income countries that includes a focus on mentoring public health professionals working to integrate gender equity in health data collection. Some of Dr. Kaufman’s work can be seen here:

Journal articles:

Kaufman MR, Casella A, Wiginton JM, Xu W, DuBois DL, Arrington-Sanders R, Simon J, Levine D
Mentoring Young African American Men and Transgender Women Who Have Sex With Men on Sexual Health: Formative Research for an HIV Mobile Health Intervention for Mentors, JMIR Form Res 2020;4(12):e17317

Kaufman, M.R., Levine, D., Casella, A. et al. E-Mentoring to Address Youth Health: A Systematic Review. Adolescent Res Rev 7, 63–78 (2022).

Kaufman, M.R., Wright, K., Simon, J., Edwards, G., Thrul, J. and DuBois, D.L. (2022), Mentoring in the Time of COVID-19: An Analysis of Online Focus Groups with Mentors to Youth. Am J Community Psychol, 69: 33-45.


Practice report:

E-Mentoring: National Mentoring Resource Center Model Review



Reflections on Research Season 3 Episode #4- Michelle Kaufman



  1. Prasad, S., Sopdie, E., Meya, D., Kalbarczyk, A., & Garcia, P. J. (2019). Conceptual Framework of Mentoring in Low- and Middle-Income Countries to Advance Global Health, The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 100(1_Suppl), 9-14. Retrieved Apr 4, 2022, from
  2. Fleming, M., House, S., Hanson, V. S., Yu, L., Garbutt, J., McGee, R., Kroenke, K., Abedin, Z., & Rubio, D. M. (2013). The Mentoring Competency Assessment: validation of a new instrument to evaluate skills of research mentors. Academic medicine : Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 88(7), 1002–1008.