(1) Interview with Mayor Nan Whaley

"Women were my biggest supporters. We have to support each other."
We agree with Mayor Nan Whaley when she states that it is a great time to be Mayor of our magnetic city. The first presidential debate will be held at Wright State University on September 26th, 2016 and Whaley plans to work with the prestigious university on its organization and planning. The debate will bring people from across the country to the historic home-city of the Wright Brothers which is a big deal for the budding metropolis; Dayton aims to retain much of its new skills and talent through redevelopment and restructuring.

In this interview, Mayor Whaley discusses the significance of the timing as Mayor and offers the  Lean In Dayton audience insight on her interpretation of leadership.

Whaley’s Thoughts on Leadership

Lean In Dayton: How did you develop as a leader?

Mayor Nan Whaley: Lots of people helped me. There was a group called Women and Leadership after I graduated from college. They were a pro-choice group and supportive of other women. They really took me under their arms and taught me a lot. Even when I made mistakes, they stuck by me. That's what's key; when there are people who are older and more experienced than you and even when you make a mistake, they'll help you learn from that mistake because that's when you learn the most, frankly, when mistakes are made.

Lean In Dayton: You were the youngest woman ever chosen for a city commission seat. What was the experience like and how did you navigate in an environment that was predominantly male and older?

Mayor Nan Whaley: I've always been in politics. The environment has always been predominantly male. I don't really know if I navigated it necessarily, it's just part of what the job entails. However, recognizing a uniqueness can be a real value in a system like politics because you can stand out more, and it gives you more opportunity to say something that may be a little nuanced or different. This has always been the case for me. I think it's an asset rather than a liability. That's fundamental. When you are running for office or any kind of  system, you have to consider the unique attributes that will help you stand out and provide a different perspective in that team or in that area.

Lean In Dayton: Where did that mindset come from?

Mayor Nan Whaley: Mostly, I think people want to be part of a group. There’ no doubt about that. What may drives leaders is the opportunity to show that they have something different ...if you are a leader, generally you like to make changes...so leaders are people who want to push change and have unique qualities. And you have to like it right? There are some people that don’t like to lead. And that's alright. I think you just have to know that about yourself- whether you like to create change or not.

Interviewed by Julene Allen

Julene Allen Julene Allen Author


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