Why She Leads: Nicole Tatum
Over 13,000 women have started their journeys to elected office with the She Should Run Incubator. These are their stories. There is no shortage of fierce women leaders, and with over 500,000 elected offices across the country, there is no shortage of seats waiting to be filled by them.
What is your most memorable career and personal accomplishment?
My most memorable career and personal moment go hand in hand because it was the day I became a mother. Being a mom has been my career for almost 13 years now, and my daughter and I have been through a lot together. She will be a teenager this July, and I was once told that she would never attend a regular school and go to regular classes, but at our last Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, we were told she would be transitioning to English class, essentially leaving math as her only EC class! This has been such a huge accomplishment on her part and as her mother, I feel like I have done my job by not giving in to the naysayers and believing in my daughter, something I will never forget and will always hold dear to my heart going forward in life.
We’d love to hear more about your leadership path. How did you get to where you are today?
When I went to college, I was in my late 20s, and a mother, so my experience was different than my younger peers. I looked at college as an opportunity to spread my intellectual and leadership wings, I started by accepting an invitation from my college honor society Gamma Beta Phi to become a member. Right after my induction ceremony, I took a huge chance and emailed the club advisor about why I should be the club President the next Fall. I wrote the email, crossed my fingers, and hoped all those years of getting in trouble for talking would all be for a good cause! A couple of days later, I got a reply from the advisor telling methat he very much appreciated my email and willingness to help the club, and that he would love to let me give the role of President a try. My first year was one of learning and getting involved, and by the second year I had accumulated over 300 hours of community service, and we inducted a record number of new members that year!
Soon after I graduated, I applied to be on the National Executive Committee to represent our alumni and bring life back to the alumni association. I was recently elected to hold the alumni position for the next 2 years on the NEC! I have traveled to California to participate in College Debate 2016, a national town hall held to pick questions to be asked at the presidential debates, another stepping stone and wonderful learning experience that brought my leadership abilities to the forefront of my life. I was also the Election Engagement Fellow, a first at Durham Tech, during the 2016 elections which was another great experience that has helped shape my path to leadership. Then this past December, I had the opportunity to meet other local Republicans who asked me if I had ever considered running for elected office. It was a defining moment. Looking back because that was the official beginning of my political journey. I’m still uncertain about where this path of leadership will lead, but I do know I am on the right path for true and equal change.
What is your personal mission related to running for office? Why?
My mission as County Commissioner is to provide my constituents with an informed and transparent leader. Too often, local citizens just simply don’t know what the issues are, or what is being done about those issues. Education is imperative in our government on all sides and at all levels. As leaders, it is our duty to educate and listen to our citizens, not get involved in the local or national drama, but just listen to what people are saying in order to help our community grow and prosper. We must be able to bring real solutions to the table, and then not be afraid to compromise on those solutions, in order for equal representation to be effective.
How has the Incubator helped you clarify your leadership vision?
I have worked on my Incubator as I go because my decision and opportunity to run for public office came so quickly! The one thing that has really helped shape or clarify my leadership vision is the very first item to be completed in the Incubator, writing your vision statement. When I first started the Incubator this part was extremely difficult for me, then I filed to run for County Commissioner, and the purpose of the vision statement made perfect sense! I wasn’t just a mom and PTA Board member (which is wonderful in and of itself), but I am so much more than that and my vision as a leader, one of inclusion, education, and transparency, reflects my leadership experiences as a whole!
What are steps you’ve taken on your path to a future run?
I filed to run for County Commissioner on February 27, 2018! This is my first campaign and I just saw our local paper and there it was, in black and white! I am the first woman to run in my district, and I am extremely excited to have the backing of my party and enormous support from my community.
Tell us about your favorite She Should Run “aha” moment or success story. Why are you an Incubator member?
Hands down the best She Should Run “aha” moment was the day Sofia shared her Ted Talk with the group [Ed. note: Sofia Pereira is on the She Should Run team]! I was in tears listening to her speak, and I watch her speech on the days I just want to give up because it is so inspiring to listen to. I listen to her story, and even though we come from opposite sides of the political aisle, her story is so much like my own, from losing family members to not wanting to take that chance because of the overwhelming fear of failure. She taught me that everything I have been through and will go through is completely normal, just keep fighting and to remember what you are fighting for! Thank you Sofia for taking a chance!
What’s your advice for finding time for your personal life (family, personal growth)? Dare we say it, how do you make time for fun in your life?
Ahhh a personal life, what are those again? Seriously, I’m glad this question was asked because it’s so important to find a balance among all the crazy! Trust me, after you announce you’re running for elected office, there will be some really mean people out there. I have found that the She Should Run Facebook group is super supportive no matter what party affiliation I am, and there have been a few times I have looked to that amazing and diverse group of ladies for some wisdom and peace. By doing this I was combining my personal growth with politics, something not available until I joined the She Should Run movement! I am also a huge meditator, and because time is limited, I put on my guided meditation before I go to sleep and I have a full 5-6 hours of great mindful meditation. As a woman I know how difficult it can be to carve out time for fun and a personal life, but it is imperative that you do take care of yourself, and that means taking the time to do so and not feeling guilty about it! Emphasis on that last part!
Note: This interview has been shortened for clarity.