2022 Mentor Awards

The annual PLEN Mentor Awards honor leaders who have a proven commitment to training the next generation of public policy leaders. Each year, PLEN alumni, students, speakers, and supporters join us to support the amazing work of leaders who are making huge strides in the public policy arena while also helping those coming up the ladder behind them.

The 2022 Mentor Awards was held in-person on Wednesday March 16, 2022 at 1615 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington D.C. It was a wonderful event where we honored the amazing leaders below.

2022 honorees

Congressional Award

U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng is serving her fifth term in the United States House of Representatives. Grace represents the Sixth Congressional District of New York encompassing the New York City borough of Queens, including west, central and northeast Queens. Grace is the first and only Asian American Member of Congress from New York State and the first female Congressmember from Queens since former Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro.

Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler was first elected to Congress at the age of 31 to represent Southwest Washington’s 3rd District. Both Democrat and Republican presidents have signed Jaime’s legislation into law, helping her earn the ranking as Washington state’s most effective Member of Congress. She is also the first Hispanic in history to represent Washington state on the federal level.


Lisa Kaenzig has over 25 years of administrative and academic experience, including several years working in politics in Washington, D.C. and more than 14 years serving as the Dean of College at the William Smith Dean's Office. On the national stage, she is the immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN), of which William Smith College is an institutional member.

Community Award

Raquel Gonzalez is a queer, gender-fluid, Latinx government executive, organizer, and  leadership development practitioner who is committed to ensuring that our institutions  are stable, effective, and inclusive - and that the people who work in them are well trained, well-resourced, and equity-focused. 

Currently a Senior Advisor at The Outreach Team, Raquel most recently directed  strategic planning and leadership development programming for a fellowship program  seeking to make government more inclusive and effective. Before that, she spent four  years in New York State government, leading operations, policy, and diversity and  inclusion initiatives for teams up to 1,300 with budgets up to $423 million.


Courtney Brunson is a legal advocate and policy wonk who uses her skills and expertise to promote economic equity and civil rights, both domestically and abroad. A second-year student at Harvard Law School, she serves as President of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the second largest legal services provider to low-income clients in the Greater Boston Area.


Legacy Circle

In recognition of BA Women's Alliance's support of PLEN to continue the mission, values, and legacy of BA Rudolph in the wake of their closure.




Role Model

William Smith College Alum Group

HOST Committee

Rebecca Hutchins | Caitlin Donahue | Nancy Dietz | Whitney Terrill | Ellie Shaw | Shae Harris | Debbie Ricker | Sheree Anne Kelly | Shelby Olson | Anna Palmer | Cherie Wilson | Rachna Choudhry | Alana Cantillo

VIEW: Past PLEN Mentor Award Honorees