Good morning everyone!

Happy Wednesday! I started off this morning as I usually do, with some of my favorite gals at Three Brothers Coffee. We’re currently reading Brené Brown’s Rising Strong, which has totally transformed the way that I view vulnerability and failing. I’d highly recommend it if you’ve got some spare reading time!

It was a real honor to interview this week’s Power of One guest! I met with her while discussing educational initiatives for the city of Nashville, and was struck by her incredible work ethic and professionalism. As a fellow millennial, she’s already made leaps and bounds and offers some really key advice on how to succeed as a young adult in the 21st century. Without further ado, I’m happy to present this week’s guest, Laura Moore!LauraMoore_7-2013

Laura Moore is the Education Liaison in the Office of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, where she works with Nashville’s non-profit and educational institutions to promote policies that spur innovation and support parents and teachers.  Prior to joining the office, Laura served as the Vice President of Policy for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. She has also served as the Director of Innovation at the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE). Laura began her career as the project and policy manager at Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm based in Washington, D.C. A Memphis native, Laura earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and her Masters of Public Policy from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College.

Who is someone who has significantly impacted your life and how?

There is a whole collection of people who have really helped to shape me in different ways, but my parents were a really big inspiration when it came to pursuing a career in education, since they both made that their life’s work.  My mom works for Shelby County Schools as Director I of Exceptional Children, and my dad was an assistant Vice Chancellor for the UT Health Science Center. Both professionally and personally, they demonstrated how education could not only transform an individual’s professional life, but really the trajectory of one’s whole family and community. I’m so grateful that I had their examples to help guide and inspire my own career.

What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how were you able to overcome it?

Just after I graduated college in 2009, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and passed away shortly thereafter. I had just moved to D.C. to begin my career, and being far away from home and trying to navigate adulthood while dealing with that loss was incredibly difficult. Figuring out how to be a working person while grieving was hard, and since I was young, I didn’t really think about the time I needed to take care of myself. My parents raised me to be a person who could get through anything which I think helped, but looking back, I probably could have taken some more time off to heal. What really helped me through was learning to rely on family and being vulnerable with my friends. I think there’s this culture that exists of not wanting to admit that you need help or are going through difficult things, but since I had just moved to a new place, I had to make the conscious effort to rely on my friends and be honest with myself about what I needed and to speak those needs.

A really big thing I did as a result of that was coming back to Tennessee after working two years in D.C. Being back here and working in education in a state that means a lot to me was really healing. Coming to Nashville was a total gamble though. I’m originally from Memphis, and hadn’t really spent much time here, but I took a leap of faith.

It sounds kind of crazy, but it’s worked out. I’ve been here for five years and I couldn’t have planned it better.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share?

I think especially as you’re working, remembering what your values and beliefs are is really important. Especially as millennials moving from job to job, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s ultimately really important to you. So check in with yourself and make sure that you’re still being true to what you believe in and what you want to accomplish. If you’re doing something that you don’t want to do, you’re not obligated to that opportunity. You don’t owe anyone your happiness. Also, especially in a city like Nashville, don’t be afraid to ask! The worst thing that can happen is that someone will say no. You never know what doors that question might open.

What are some of your favorite things about Nashville? How can we as a city improve?

There are so many things I love about Nashville, so I’ll stick to one personal and one professional one. From a personal perspective, this city has grown so much and there’s so much opportunity. There’s a lot of energy and excitement here—not every city can say that they’re growing and thriving, and that 86 people move here every day. It creates a really cool culture and environment that makes it exciting to live in. Professionally, people are really open and want other people to be successful. If you reach out to someone and want to meet, nine times out of ten, they’ll meet with you and help you. People want this city to be successful, and that extends down to each individual. It’s a really positive quality, especially in a role like mine where we rely so much on different people who care about education and who want our office to be successful.

As far as improving, I think everyone would say that we have some work to do when it comes to traffic and transportation, and we have a great team in the Mayor’s Office working to do just that! From my education perspective, I think we have a strong foundation to build upon, and I think our school board has a great opportunity in selecting a new director that will help propel the district forward.

I’m so glad that Laura was willing to share a little bit of her story with me, and am so excited that the city of Nashville has such a passionate and dedicated person advocating for the growth of our educational system. For all my fellow twenty-somethings, I think her story is a great reminder of balancing the value of hard work with listening to yourself and staying true to who you are—definitely a piece of advice I’m going to carry with me into the coming chapters of my life.

Thank you so much for joining me this week for Power of One Wednesday!



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