Our Passion


John Ernest Fellows are rare individuals with big dreams that TJEF empowers. Each Fellow's dream is what TJEF calls an Initiative. Initiatives are for The John Ernest Foundation what others might label as projects, sometimes individual and sometimes team based.

  • Goals are broad; initiatives are narrow.
  • Goals are general intentions; initiatives are precise.
  • Goals are intangible; initiatives are tangible.
  • Goals are abstract; initiatives are concrete.
  • Goals can't be validated as is; initiatives can be validated.

Mentoring at TJEF

Mentoring is at the core of TJEF, extended by its Treillage which mentors through coaching and guidance. Personal chemistry, ethical considerations and geography are considered before entering into a mentoring relationship. Learning is always a two-way street: mentors provide resources, knowledge and advice to individuals and groups while sharing the reward attaining specific goals and visions.

Ode to a fallen mentor~

Long before the old word “mentor” again became so fashionable, I well learned the best of definitions from several women and men who helped shape my life. Erwin was chief among them.

What the concept came to mean so vividly to me, was a safe haven, where one could live without fear. Authority, while ever present, was overridden by a mutual respect, which the mentor duly earned. A good mentor listens honestly. A good mentor uses judgment with the utmost care. A good mentor is a master at the chemistry of friendship. A good mentor does not require hearing stories, as she or he wants them told, rather in naked, unabashed language. A good mentor is a patient teacher, and learns when to employ instruction. A good mentor is clever, and understands how temporary disappointment can be. A good mentor is seldom bored by the pupil. And, most important, a good mentor is also in a constant state of learning, and often from the pupil.

To me, Erwen was a model mentor. To the very end, he listened as I learned…agreeing at times with my thoughts and behavior, or critiquing my assumptions. I always felt important to him. I always felt I could translate what was to me a very complicated world, and that he truly understood and enjoyed hearing its parameters. Never did I feel my world baffled him. We were always equals. Even when I was sixteen.

What so commanded my respect for Erwin was his proper sense of good and evil. He understood duplicity. He understood false pride and vanity. And, he also taught me that any means to an end, if suspect, is unacceptable. Credibility is a scarce commodity, hard earned. It was to Erwin, among the best of traits.

Finally, Erwin taught me a lot about competence, which is born in the pursuit of truth, subject to limits, which one should learn, know and practice. For the competent, ignorance is the ever lurking enemy. While one doesn’t have to experience a car crash to know who painful it can be, it is always imperative to know, to be modern, to experience. At his home on New Year’s Eve before he passed, Erwin proudly handed us his present, How we Die. Even near the end, he was modern. He was learning. He was experiencing.

I am but one small life Erwin touched. He lives in the many who carry his flame! He wrote, very creatively, on the slate of eternity. And it is we, who must pass on these sagacious truths, which will honor his memory.