Jacqueline Lawton: Nathan Cummings Young Leader of Color Award Recipient

Misty Brown | 7/15/2012, 1:28 a.m.

MB: Thank you for speaking so candidly about your experience here. Now, can you tell us more about the "Nathan Cummings Young Leaders of Color" program?

JEL: Yes! TCG is awesome! As part of their mission and core values, TCG is committed to supporting and empowering the ambitions, visions, and challenges of the next generation of leadership. They want to encourage not-for-profit theatres to be more inclusive and to present and promote the work of artists of color. The Young Leaders of Color (YLC) program was a remarkable, inspiring, informative, empowering, and career-defining experience.

MB: Who nominated you to be a Nathan Cummings Young Leaders of Color Award Recipient?

JEL: Blake Robison, former Artistic Director of Round House Theatre/incoming Artistic Director of Cincinnati Playhouse.

MB: What excited you most about taking part in the conference and the program?

JEL: More than anything, I was excited to share space, thoughts, and questions with more than 1,000 theatre professionals from around the world! What I found amazing was that with all they had to manage and coordinate, the staff at TCG made time to introduce and connect artists with one another. They accomplished this through Conference 2.0, which allowed participants to create a profile, set up meetings and engage in discussions. They also gave all of the Young Leader of a mentor and introduced us to a professional in our field. This built such wonderful energy around what's to come and strengthen the sense of community in a dynamic way.

MB: What does leadership mean to you?

JEL: This was one of the first questions we were asked in our Young Leaders of Color session. I believe that a leader is someone who has integrity, courage, humility, compassion, a strong work ethic and values excellence. Someone who gets out of their own way, checks their ego at the door, and remains accountable for their actions. Someone who is discerning, able to delegate, and listens to the needs of their community. Someone who understands that leadership is a privilege and with that privilege comes a great deal of responsibility. Someone willing to say they don't know and that they were wrong. Someone willing to stand up for their core values, no matter how challenging that may be and even if no one is looking.

MB: What was the most valuable lesson you learned from the conference?

JEL: Hands down, the most valuable lesson is one that motivational speaker, Paul Robison, taught us when he helped us define our core values. First, values are what matters to you; what you can't live without; what defines you; what stimulates and inspires you; and what is central to who are you. Now, in order to be a core value, they have to be:

1. Chosen freely.

2. Chosen among alternatives.

3. Chosen after consideration of consequences.

4. Prized and cherished/bring you hope and joy.

5. Publicly affirmed and reflected in how you live.

6. Acted upon, even in the most challenging situations.

7. Part of a pattern of action.