Every month LGW highlights a new member of the Leadership Greater Washington Community. This month we had the pleasure of getting to know Nathaniel Cole ('16).
Can you give us some background or insight into your personal leadership path – including your sources of inspiration and most important lessons learned?
In the eighth grade, during a parent teacher conference, my World History teacher Kenneth Ward shared that I was a leader. I thought he was being polite because I never thought of myself as one. The next day I tried out stepping into this role Mr. Ward was so sure of. To my surprise, peers followed me which may have let to me thinking, “How do I now use these new-found powers!” I was fourteen at the time but the question of how do use this gift has always shaped my approach to leadership. Over time, my faith has remained my source of inspiration. Being grounded in a power that supersedes any natural ability is a constant reminder that “the work” must never revolve around an individual. The most important, and recent, lesson I have learned is the power of honesty – operating from the intersection of compassion and candor. Even as a leader, there have been seasons where I sought the approval of others to the detriment of what was within me. I am learning the power of leading from a posture of remaining authentically true to how I have been created and who has created me.
How did you first become involved with Leadership Greater Washington and the Signature Program?
From seventeen years old to my early twenties, a series of phenomenal women poured into my life; Viki Betancout, Donna Purchase, and Veronica Nolan. Each one of these brilliant women encouraged me to apply to the LGW Signature Program once the time was right. Individually, they raved about their experiences and each believed I would be a good fit for the program. These women planted seeds of encouragement and nurtured my professional growth with constant support. I ended up applying for the LGW Class of 2016. It appeared the time was right, and at age twenty-eight I was accepted.
What do you love most about your LGW Class?
My class (“Sweet 16”) is comprised of individuals who desire to connect and help others. I love the way we rally behind one another and support the efforts of fellow classmates. There is a sincerity and reliability I find among my class. The diversity of thought and experience is rich, while the common thread of community bonds us together.
How would you describe LGW - the alumni, leadership, staff, and overall mission of the organization?
High energy, exceptional, committed, poised and dedicated to the region.
Can you describe an extraordinary LGW Moment from your experience - a connection you made, something you pursued because of LGW, or a distinctive memory?
Assisting with Youth Leadership Greater Washington 2019! The greatest experience/moment was being selected to help plan for this year’s program. This opportunity is an embodiment of my work over the past twelve years and a representation of my heart – supporting youth across this region to thrive and examine their role in changing the landscape around them, while remaining true to themselves. I enjoy serving as a source of encouragement for the next generation. Make sure to support YLGW financially or with your time – our young people are worth it!
How do you envision the future of the region? In what ways has LGW been able to shape the region since you joined?
The region is rapidly changing. I envision a future where equal attention is given to those who are already thriving and those seeking to thrive. Where leaders are bold enough to challenge systems and structures that oppress, while championing accountability across the board. LGW is positioned to change its approach to how leaders are convened and connected – and owning the charge of cultivating the region. LGW has successfully brought leaders together in the past, creating spaces for collaboration to occur. Now is the season to intentionally champion collective efforts among leaders to drive the region forward.
How has LGW played a role in your professional life?
LGW has broadened my perspective. My professional life has benefited by hearing from an array of individuals across professions about what is important based on where they are seated. This incredible gift and insight reminds me to think outside my role/organization and identify the common thread that sparks solution amongst the collective.
What are some keys to staying innovative in your field or some tips for success?
Proactively identifying gaps and presenting solutions which bridge those gaps. I have learned the importance of listening, remaining informed, and asking the right questions. Most importantly – admitting when I am wrong. Pride has not been a good friend to me or anyone I know! Remaining committed to learning is important as a leader.
Please tell us something most people might not know about you.
My wife and I are launching “These Three Remain,” our first podcast on January 4, 2019! In June 2018 we were challenged to pour out in every area of our lives, even in the areas where we did not feel we had enough to give. We asked God to show us what areas our talents and gifts could be cultivated to bring Him glory. We both love to encourage others, while using real life experiences to spread love and laughter. That’s how “These Three Remain” was birthed, make sure to listen!
Finally, I try to never forget those who have blessed me along my journey. The heart behind mentioning the names of the women and men who were supportive to me as a teen and young adult is to remind all of us that we play a crucial role in supporting the journey of young people. You never know how an encouraging word can transform a life. Additionally, to honor those champions by name. To those champions, I love each of you and appreciate the transparency provided then which helped inform the way I navigate spaces now!