Written by Kellie Hinkle, Code Nation President

Last week, I celebrated my one-month workiversary (work anniversary) on Team Code Nation. As I’ve reflected on my experience and learnings over the past 30 days, I’ve been able to reaffirm why I chose Code Nation and see boundless potential in our organization, our people, and the ways we can help young people thrive for generations to come.

Why Code Nation?

Through my two decades of experience working with schools and communities, I’ve witnessed firsthand the opportunity gap that exists for young people, and particularly young people of color, who are growing up in historically excluded and systemically under-resourced communities. Code Nation provides these same young people with the skills, training, and support they need to prosper in the tech workforce.

Computing jobs are the top source of new wages in the U.S. and every young person should have access to a stable career and financially sustaining wage.

As president of Code Nation, I’m able to bring my organizational management expertise to help us evolve from a dynamic startup to a sustainable, seasoned organization. We will focus on impact, operations, systems, and processes that will serve as a critical launchpad for our future.

There’s no doubt you’ll hear more from me as I dig into this work, but I’ll start with what I’ve learned over this past month.

What I’ve learned in the first 30 days

Being a full-time learner can be uncomfortable. After so many years of driving and implementing work, and being a self-proclaimed “doer,” it’s been challenging to shift into a learner role. I like to roll up my sleeves and get things done, but as a new leader coming into an established organization, it is important to lead with learning to understand the current state of Code Nation and our people and programs. Without understanding where we’ve been and where we currently are, we can’t effectively figure out where we can and should go in the future.

Listening is a foundational leadership skill. When most people think about a leader, they think of someone in the front, making decisions, driving strategy, and directing work. What can be missed in this traditional view of leadership is how central listening is to being an effective leader. Listening helps to build trust and lets others know that you value them and what they have to share, which, in turn, enables thoughtful and effective organizational decisions.

We proudly and unapologetically live our values. Team Code Nation embodies the values of the organization.

We’re transparent.
Our staff asks hard questions. We are open, honest, and straightforward.

We collaborate.
We work together, always centering the experiences of our students and communities.

We celebrate loudly.
We appreciate one another and we honor the unique contributions that we all bring to the team and our work.

We have a growth mindset.
There is always more to learn and we can always improve our approaches to maximize our impact for our students.

We respect the whole person.
We acknowledge and appreciate that we all bring varied life experiences, identities, and motivations to this work.

Our people are our magic.

Where are we going?

For the past decade, Code Nation has made a lasting impact on students in some of the largest school districts in our country and it’s a privilege to be here and part of this incredible team. The organization has built a strong foundation and we’re now at an inflection point – who will we be 10 years from now? While I don’t have all of the answers yet (give me at least another month!), I know that our belief that every young person has the ability to thrive, coupled with our commitment to building skills for and access to tech careers, will change the tech workforce for the better. And ultimately, we will change the lives of thousands of our nation’s young people.

I hope you’ll follow along as my journey continues on Code Nation’s LinkedInInstagram, and Twitter!

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