February 12, 2024

We interviewed four New Leaders Council spouses about how they serve as Partners in Leadership and Love! This special “love” edition of our blog features couples Alessandra Biaggi (NLC New York City 2015) and Nathaniel Koloc (NLC New York City 2015) and Ciji Townsend (NLC Louisiana 2015) and Travis Townsend (NLC Atlanta 2010).

Alessandra Biaggi (NLC New York City 2015) and Nathaniel Koloc (NLC New York City 2015)

Alessandra and Nathaniel met during their NLC New York City Fellowship in January 2015. They have been married since 2019 and just welcomed a new baby boy.

Alessandra Biaggi (NLC New York City 2015) and Nathaniel Koloc (NLC New York City 2015) and their baby, Hart.

Celebrating Achievements

How do you celebrate each other’s successes, both in your personal and professional lives?

We make it a point to have a special dinner together to celebrate anything major. On a day to day basis, we have a habit of asking each other what we can do to support the other one, especially during crunch times or busy weeks. We make gratitude a daily feature. At career crossroads moments, we always consult each other and make each other’s inputs the last thing we consider before making a big decision. 

Can you share a memorable moment where you both felt particularly proud of each other?

When our baby boy Hart was born, we both felt very proud of how the other had shown up for each other during a difficult pregnancy.

NSK: Alessandra had been through so many physical symptoms while pregnant, but she had nothing but positive and determined energy for the entire labor and birth. 

AB: Watching Nathaniel become a father and an equal parent is very rewarding and supportive of having a strong marriage and partnership, which is so important.

Advice for Future Leaders

What advice would you give to aspiring leaders about maintaining a strong and supportive marital relationship?

You need to internalize that your partnership is the bedrock supporting everything else, and prioritize it as such. Aside from personally staying healthy, investing intention into your partnership is the best way you can set yourselves up for a better future. It doesn’t mean that every day or week you have to spend the majority of your time together, but it means you always do make time for coming back together and re-centering your relationship.

How important do you think it is for leaders to have a supportive partner?

AB: I would never have accomplished what I did in the New York State Senate without Nathaniel’s constant support. I would literally call him multiple times a day for advice and consultation, and he showed up to it every time. He also chaired my campaign and helped lead the team I put together, which made a big difference in our ability to win.

NSK: When it comes to my career, having a partner who always earnestly encourages me to take the risk vs. play it safe has made a huge difference in what I’ve been able to do, and reinforces the instincts that have led to successes in entrepreneurship and business.

Ciji Townsend (NLC Louisiana 2015) and Travis Townsend (NLC Atlanta 2010)

Ciji and Travis met while volunteering and serving with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professionals. They have been married since 2017 and are a family of four.

Ciji Townsend (NLC Louisiana 2015) and Travis Townsend (NLC Atlanta 2010)

Balancing Roles

As a leader and a spouse, how do you balance these demanding roles? Are there strategies you’ve found particularly effective? What challenges have you faced in managing your time and commitments between your leadership responsibilities and your marriage?

We’ve continued to participate in community driven activities and voluntaryism even after we’ve been married and started our family. In navigating the dual roles of leadership and marriage, it’s been crucial for us to continuously engage in discussions, sometimes over-communicating, to stay aligned with our packed schedules. Weekly check-ins have become a cornerstone for us, a time when we can dive into our commitments and how they might affect our approach to keeping our household running smoothly. It’s a lot about talking things through to ensure we can fulfill our responsibilities while also respecting and honoring our individual passions and pursuits outside the home.

Shared Leadership

Do you and your spouse take on leadership roles in your community together? How does this shared experience impact your relationship?
How do you balance power and decision-making in your relationship?

Absolutely, we have embraced leadership roles in our community together. This has been a vital part of our relationship, helping us remain connected through shared goals and activities. One standout experience has been our participation in Leadership Georgia. We went through the program together, graduated side by side, and now serve as trustees. It’s been an incredible journey. Additionally, we’ve both engaged in similar leadership programs at different times, like LEAD Atlanta and then Travis graduated from Leadership Atlanta.

We both graduated from Leadership Buckhead, are both Outstanding Atlanta honorees, and of course we have participated in New Leaders Council in two different chapters (Louisiana and Atlanta).

This array of experiences, whether shared or individual, has deepened our understanding and appreciation for what each program demands. It has also given us unique insights into balancing power and decision-making in our relationship, as we both have a profound respect for the other’s dedication and achievements in these areas.

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