TeamMates Presents National Awards at Annual Conference

Media Contact:
Hannah Miller

Lincoln, Neb. TeamMates Mentoring Program is pleased to present the 2022-2023 National All-Star Awards to Ralph Southern, TeamMates of Bennington, and Orion  Advisor Solutions. The three recipients were honored at the TeamMates Annual Conference in Lincoln, NE July 14th followed by a presentation from Nebraska Volleyball Coach John Cook.

Every November, TeamMates takes nominations for Mentor of the Year, Chapter of the Year, and Community Partner of the Year. From the record-breaking pool of nominees, the TeamMates National Office Conference Committee chose the winners based on the number of nominations, impact on students, and how the individual(s) help further TeamMates’ mission. The mission of the TeamMates Mentoring Program is to positively impact the world by inspiring students to reach their full potential through mentoring.

TeamMates Mentor of the Year— Ralph Southern

Nominated by TeamMates of Sandy Creek Program Coordinator, Brenda Searle, Ralph Southern was awarded Mentor of the Year in 2023. Ralph and his mentee Bradon have been matched in TeamMates for about 6 years. The two connected through their love of music.

In 2022, Ralph was admitted into hospice while battling colon cancer. In what he thought were Ralph’s final days, Bradon visited Ralph to say goodbye. Ralph said he remembers that moment as a turning point in his recovery. He beat the disease and went back to mentoring Bradon in school at Sandy Creek a few months later. Click here to watch their full story.

TeamMates Chapter of the Year— TeamMates of Bennington

Nominated by several local TeamMates board members and community supporters, TeamMates of Bennington earned Chapter of the Year in 2023. They were chosen from a pool of 192 local programs across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Lead by program coordinator Megan Detjens, TeamMates of Bennington serves students in grades 3-12 in Bennington Public Schools in Nebraska.

TeamMates of Bennington continuously represents the gold standard in mentoring programs with their commitment to students, emphasis on safety, and passion for bringing members of the community in to mentor students. Right now they have about 80 matches in Bennington Public Schools. Click here to watch their story.

TeamMates Community Partner of the Year— Orion Advisor Solutions

Nominated by TeamMates of Millard Program Coordinator, Kris Morgan, Orion Advisor Solutions, with headquarters in Omaha, NE is TeamMates’ Community Partner of the Year.

Orion exemplifies the gold standard in mentoring and corporate partnerships by giving their time and donations to their local TeamMates program. Right now, they have about 25 mentors working at the company, some of whom have served in leadership roles on the TeamMates of Millard board of directors, including founder and CEO Eric Clarke.

Each year, Orion hosts a fundraiser to give back to the TeamMates of Millard chapter. This year, they hope to raise $60,000 in their TeamUp for TeamMates Run on August 19th. Click here to learn more about Orion’s partnership with TeamMates.

About TeamMates

TeamMates Mentoring Program focuses on building friendships between students and safe, caring adults. Founded in 1991 by Dr. Tom and Nancy Osborne, TeamMates’ mission is to positively impact the world by inspiring students to reach their full potential through mentoring. Mentors and mentees in grades 3-12 meet in school during the day to play a board game or talk. Students and mentors in TeamMates+ post-secondary program connect twice a month to develop a friendship and soft skills. To learn more about TeamMates’ impact across 192 communities in 5 states, go to