HerStory Moment with Dr. Nathalie C. Lilavois

It’s Women’s History Month and this month the HerSuiteSpot blog will feature interviews with women leaders and entrepreneurs that talk about how they found their SuiteSpot in our HerStory Series. We recently sat down with Dr. Nathalie C. Lilavois, Founder and CEO of Zahara Crown, Inc. to learn more about her and how she got started as an entrepreneur in this HerStory Moment. Here is what we learned:

When you began your career many years ago, did you ever imagine that you would have a leadership role in this profession/organization?

I believe as an educator, you are a leader by default. I see teaching as accepting the major responsibility for not only the academic growth of young people, but also their social, emotional, physical, and mental growth and well-being. Students learn how to “be” in the world by watching and practicing how to be in school. Becoming a principal and then a curriculum director increased that responsibility, exponentially. These leadership roles expand your reach to families, teachers, and communities in developing a positive, learning culture.

Who is a role model that you look up to and why?

Michelle Obama is my shero. Her famous quote, “When they go low, we go high” has become a mantra that focuses on solutions and moving past a visceral, emotional response.

What are the benefits to having women in leadership?

Women in leadership disrupt the status quo and pave the way for future generations to experience systemic structures that include and value women in its upper echelons as intelligent, effective, dynamic innovators and solutionaries.

What has been your most significant barrier to leadership and how did you handle it?

For me, my greatest assets became barriers. You can be hired for characteristics like being a great listener, critical thinker, good problem solver, and thinking outside the box, but when you translate those assets into actions, it calls for changes in ways that people and organizations don’t necessarily want. Often, you are expected to assimilate which creates this contradiction where you may be perceived as unpredictable and “not a team player”; thus, you may not be considered or even get passed over for leadership opportunities, despite your credentials and experience. Negotiating between the deeply entrenched culture of an organization and being your authentic self as a transformational leader is a big challenge.

What is something that you are immensely proud of?

“My daughter, Brianna. She is an amazing, determined, young entrepreneur who developed her own online business during the pandemic shutdown. I admire her resilience and perseverance in the face of this major global event.”

What qualities make a great leader?

Great leaders help others see their own greatness and cultivate leadership in others. Great leaders are the safety net for that emerging leader as they grow.  You help them see failures as learning opportunities. You also get to cheer the loudest when it’s time to celebrate their successes!

What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of leaders?

I think the biggest challenge will continue to revolve around keeping up with changes and trends that impact your business or service, while focusing on doing good, purpose-filled work. Finding ways to keep your team engaged, inspired, and growing as these changes occur is important.

If you could try another job for a day, what would it be?

FBI Behavior Analyst

If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Believe in yourself and go for it. Don’t let others define who you are by the limitations they set on your success.

What is your favorite book or what book are you reading now?

I am reading The Institute by Stephen King, my favorite author. I am a big fan of his work.  I also have several empowerment books on my table including The Little Black Book of Success, You Are A Badass, and Successful Women Think Differently.

Where can we find you on your day off?

Define “off”. I don’t think I have that button. Lol

Learn more about Dr. Lilavois

Dr. Nathalie C. Lilavois has been an educator on Long Island for 34 years as a teacher, principal, and district administrator. She is the CEO/Founder of Zahara Crown, Inc., an educational consulting company that provides support, curriculum, and guidance through workshops, presentations, webinars, and mentorship tailored to the client’s needs. Zahara Crown’s mission is to empower families of color with the educational and financial information, resources, and tools they need to build a strong legacy for their future. In addition to her top job as a mom, Dr. Lilavois is an author, public speaker, wedding officiant, and the curator/executive producer of TEDxDeerPark.  She is a veteran of the US Army Reserve with the rank of Captain. Dr. Lilavois completed her Master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University, and her doctorate from Hofstra University.

For more information: visit zaharacrown.com


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