March 25, 2020

Featured Mentor – Mallory O’Brien

It’s an honor to feature Mallory O’Brien on today’s blog! Mallory has been mentoring with Read Ahead since 2016. As an employee of Colgate-Palmolive–which has partnered with Read Ahead for 25 years–Mallory is part of a long tradition of caring volunteers dedicated to making a difference in New York City public schools.

Mallory and her current mentee, Christina

Why did you choose to be a Read Ahead mentor?

Volunteering has always been important to me and when I heard about Read Ahead I had to jump on it. One of the more appealing aspects was the time commitment. One hour every other week with the ability to trade off with a co-mentor makes it easy to volunteer. It’s a shared experience with a co-worker that we both get to partake in and see a lot of value in.

What is the best part of being a Read Ahead mentor?

Every time I’m with my mentee, I’m reminded of the innocence and simplicity of childhood. Whether we are coloring, talking about the latest drama from recess, or the nervous energy of trying out for the school talent show…you get to be apart of conversations that give your brain a bit of a break from all of life’s other worries. Bonding with someone so much younger than you and getting the perspective of a new generation can be so enlightening and inspiring.

I 💛 Read Ahead because it brings some calm and peace into my day. It reminds you that no matter how busy you are or how preoccupied with work stress you may be, you can always carve out time to give back. And while giving back is positively impacting a young student, it’s also positively impacting your own life too.

Can you share a favorite story, anecdote or moment that really resonated with you from your time as a mentor? 

The first time I ever met my first mentee we were doing some ice breakers. We each wrote down our top 3 favorite music artists and then shared with one another. She listed her 1, 2, and 3 and to my surprise they were my exact same top three! Beyonce, Adele, and Alicia Keys. We laughed and were kind of in awe of each other! Who would’ve thought two people twenty years apart would share the same exact taste in music? It forever bonded us for the next 3 years!

Do you have a favorite book that you’ve read together so far?

My first mentee, Sophia, and I bonded over “Mystery” books. I used to read the Sammy Keyes mystery series growing up so getting to revisit mysteries was nostalgic and special to me. Both mentees have also been extremely artistic and creative so getting them to draw scenes from the stories or asking them to draw based on what they’ve read has been fun. It’s always inspiring to see a young mind at work!

Mallory and Sophia

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Carmen [Read Ahead Program Coordinator] has been a wonderful, consistent presence in this program and I appreciate all she does for the organization and the mentors.

As we adjust to current school closures and social distancing measures, Read Ahead will be continuing to share great stories from our community – we hope they bring a smile to your face! Do you have a story to share, or an idea for something you’d like to see on our blog? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us at