Tatiana Washington Believes in the Power of Mentorship and Doesn’t Let Fear Hold Her Back

Tatiana Washington is the Senior Director of Secondary Partnerships at OneGoal in Chicago, an organization dedicated to creating equitable opportunities so all young people can realize their postsecondary dreams.

“You know, when you’re meant to do something, you feel it!” Tatiana says. “Growing up, that was me. I’ve always gravitated towards service.”

From a young age, mentorship helped Tatiana realize the path she was meant to follow.

“Having mentors who were in service,” she shares, “really helped to guide me through what I was already gravitating toward.” 

After graduating college with a degree in public relations, Tatiana was trying to decide what to do next. She considered taking her experience to Paris, where she studied abroad, but ultimately followed a suggestion from one of her mentors to apply for a position with City Year in DC.

“That was a big turning point for me,” she says.

City Year helped Tatiana realize her love for the education-focused nonprofit space. After serving as an AmeriCorps Member with the organization for about a year she moved back to Chicago and continued working in the educational non profit sector. Through her experiences, she was offered the opportunity to join the City Year Memphis startup team.

“I’m very proud that I didn’t allow fear to rob me from taking that step,” she explains. “That was my first time being positioned as a strong leader.”

Don’t Let Fear or Ego Hold You Back

Moving to DC and Memphis were two pivotal steps in Tatiana’s journey.

“I don’t have many examples of folks moving for careers they’re passionate about, ” she says.” 

Tatiana’s mentors have helped her realize her potential and encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone.

“When you don’t have those examples sometimes you can become fearful of ‘am I doing the right thing?’” she shares.

Through her journey of wanting to become a better leader and professional coach, Tatiana learned a lot about rising above her ego

“Rising above ego is to resist complaining and stewing in complacency and instead ask ‘How can I make this system better? ‘How can I help this person reach their potential ’” Tatiana adds.

Tatiana left her position at City Year Chicago to accept her current role with OneGoal once she realized fear and ego had been getting in her way.

“I’d grown so comfortable in my role and I knew it was time to transition but I was very fearful to do that – my role, my colleagues, the memories, the familiarity all had become my ‘safe space’,” she shares.

She made the leap and knows she made the right decision – she’s been able to stretch and grow as a regional strategic lead and people manager. 

“I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do and that’s a powerful feeling!”

Anchor to Your Why

“Do what you love and the money will come,” she shares. 

A mentor gave this advice to Tatiana early in her career and she continues to follow it today. Instead of looking for fleeting motivation, Tatiana stays anchored to her “why.”

“I want to help young people maximize their potential, ” she explains.

Tatiana loves that she has the opportunity to give back to the younger generation through her current role with OneGoal and her personal mentor-mentee relationships.

“Making sure that I’m doing my part to create systems to support them and to dismantle the systemic racism that doesn’t support them are the things that keep me going,” she says.

Throughout her career, Tatiana has continued to stay true to what she loves and she wants up-and-coming leaders to realize they don’t need to look for instant success. 

“I want the future generations to keep their ‘why’ at the core. Do things that you love. Don’t chase after the next trend or what you’re seeing on social media,” she says.