Thursday marks the five year work anniversary of Nicole Navratil, NationSwell’s Chief Operating Officer. Today, we celebrate her indelible, transformative impact on every aspect of the work we do here.
I asked my fellow members of the NationSwell team to share some of their favorite memories of Nicole, and what she means to NationSwell. This is what we had to say.
Greg Behrman, NationSwell CEO + Founder: My favorite collective memory is something that I have seen time and time again over the past years from Nicole. It’s how — so often when no one is looking — she is thinking about how to help our team, or one of our team members. She cares so much about our culture, our mission and team members as human beings — and is constantly thinking about how to help us to flourish. She’s been the wind in our sails in so many ways – big and small.
Nicole has been a rock of guidance, care, and steadiness for NationSwell, and for me personally, for the past 5 years. She has been an incredible advisor, partner, friend — and companion on this great adventure!
Amy Lee, Managing Director, NationSwell Studio: My most fun memory of Nicole has to be her incredible array of textured and patterned sweaters and pants. She is the only person I know who is more of a magpie than me when it comes to clothes, and her leopard print velvet slacks are one of my all time sartorial highlights. If Nicole ever turns up to work in a quintessential New Yorker all black outfit I would fall over in shock.
Nicole is the backbone and the heart of NationSwell — basically we wouldn’t be standing up and living without her! She is the funkiest math nerd I ever met, with a capacity for both business rigor and human sensitivity that I have never seen in one human before.
Kate Dinota, Senior Director of Community + Impact: Nicole is our calm, confident, colorful leader. My favorite memory of her is when I met Marty for the first time at the Impact Hub, I learned that his first nap started at 8am and I’m pretty sure my jaw fell on the floor. Years later when I became a mom, Nicole and I definitely shared some laughs over our blissfully ignorant, well-rested, pre-children selves.
Jessica Lacombe, Director of Creative Content, NationSwell Studio: I appreciate that this is probs supposed to be funny stories, but I consistently find myself being grateful to Nicole for navigating the PPP hellscape in the wake of COVID. Everything I know/have heard about that process is that it was a nightmare to navigate, and I’m sure I haven’t thanked her enough for it.
Nicole does not shy from a clothing pattern, and this is something I deeply, deeply respect. For me, and NationSwell.
Patricia Ureña, Community Manager: My favorite memory of Nicole was the huge hug she gave me in Denali on my first day at NationSwell. She made me feel very welcome.
Christina Montero, VP of Accounts @ NationSwell Studio: It was Halloween 2018 and it was an in-office day and given it is my favorite holiday, I was dressed to the nines in 80’s neon gear. When the elevator doors opened and I walked into the office, NO ONE was wearing a costume… except Nicole. I recall it was also 80’s ski and/or workout gear and she looked amazing. I even think she had a few outside clients/interviews that day, and she still rocked her gear. #kindredspirits
Nicole is my mother hen. She has given me the right amount of guidance, support and encouragement over the years — as a colleague, a mother, and a friend. This is especially true when she is donning one of her oversized cozy sweaters.
Elyssa Dole, Community Director: Nicole means strength, clarity, attention and attentiveness. My favorite memory of her is all the amazing prints she wore around the office that brightened my day.
Jeremy Hurewitz, Curation Director @ NationSwell Council: I appreciate Nicole’s rigor and attention to detail and her drive to always push NS to be better. I also love to practice my terrible Czech with her and talk about skiing!
Mikhail Relushchin, Operations Senior Associate: My favorite memory of Nicole is the burst of color that accompanied her entrance into the office every morning — what with the shawls, the leopard print, or just the lion’s mane hat-hair!
Nicole is someone who keeps her eyes on the prize, and keeps the team focused on the necessary things!
Taekia Blackwell, Director of Business Operations; Chief of Staff to the COO: Joining my first call on my first day to her in a unicorn birthday hat was pretty special. Secondly, I interviewed for this job remotely so I didn’t get a chance to meet Nicole IRL until about two weeks after I started. However, she made the whole interview process feel really comprehensive and like we were able to actually start to get to know each other— to the extent that my roommates started to joke that I already worked for NationSwell halfway through the interview process. I appreciate the time and care and effort it takes to make someone feel like part of the team even before they’ve joined.
In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve been incredibly impressed by Nicole’s ability to keep all of the plates spinning. She’s clearly foundational to the success of NationSwell and just a super smart, super caring, super efficient lady that I feel lucky to work with every day.
Allie Mahler, Strategy Director: Nicole is masterful at keeping the trains running on track and on time, always. She does so with grace, curiosity, and a sense of joy – all while holding the vision for where NationSwell is and where it can go.
Kelsey Overby, Senior Director + Head of Partnerships, NationSwell Studio: Nicole is the Queen of NationSwell, guiding all of us to excellence and brilliance.
Faustyna Hariasz, Member Partnerships Manager: I love her wild and colorful sweaters (and her jumpsuit game), and I think she is just effortlessly chic. I also love that she notices people’s haircuts and style game right back. It’s important to make people feel seen for the little, personal things and she does that so well.
On a more professional note, she is able to distill complicated, wandering ideas into very actionable and clear ways forward and we would be lost without her lighthouse/beacon ways.
Anthony Smith, VP for Published Content + Growth: I will never forget meeting Nicole at a crowded coffee shop in Chelsea. We were introduced by a mutual friend because he thought that we would get along. He was right! Talking to Nicole about journalism and audiences and what might be possible if storytelling galvanized — instead of just informed — I realized I wanted to keep talking to her and maybe even work with her. I made professional decisions accordingly, and it’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Nicole is the rising tide that lifts all boats, really and truly. The people that work here are always on her mind, and she is a fearless advocate for us. Lots of leaders talk about caring for their teams, but our lives are tangibly better because of the ways she cares about us. NationSwell is the place that it is because of her, and I’ve learned so much about leading and listening just from watching her.