Alumnae Spotlight: Nicola Whiteman, Esq., Class of 1991
Holy Child alumna Nicola Whiteman (Class of 1991) is at the center of affordable housing and sustainability discussion in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. She is the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington (AOBA.) The membership and lobbying organization represents owners and managers of commercial and multifamily residential properties, as well as companies that provide products and services to the real estate industry.
Nicola is AOBA’s chief advocate, which means she helps shape its position and policies as a regional leader on multifamily and commercial real estate issues. She’s been with the organization for 15 years and has been recognized for her work along the way. Nicola was a 2017 Excellence in Advocacy Awards Nominee and was awarded the 2009 Professional Women in Advocacy Conference Golden Best Award. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, which represents the Northwest DC neighborhood stretching from Pennsylvania Avenue to Dupont Circle.
Besides her work with AOBA, uplifting women is close to Nicola’s heart, whether it be through building her team or acts of service. In fact, providing opportunities for other women to succeed is what she is most proud of. Nicola says her racially and gender diverse seven-member advocacy team at AOBA, which is comprised of three African American women, one Pakistani woman and an African American man, is one of the most diverse in the region.
“I continue to blaze the path for the entire team by promoting and advancing team members to ensure their continued success,” she says.
Nicola’s advice for Holy Child students and alumnae pursuing their career is pure gold: take risks, use your network and pay it forward.
You can read more about Nicola’s career path and favorite Holy Child memories below!
Tell us about the path that led you to AOBA.
“Following high school, I embarked on a traditional career path and enrolled at Georgetown University where I was a government major followed by the Villanova University School of Law. During law school, my post-law school employment interviews focused primarily on the Philadelphia region. Finding myself at a crossroad in life, I confided in and listened to my village and moved back to the DC area - without a job offer. Departing from the traditional path can be scary even for those who are natural risk takers. However, a fellow Georgetown alumnus referred me to a DC law firm and I secured an offer. Little did I know then, that life had still more turns in store for me.
I did not contemplate working as a lobbyist during college or law school. Indeed, the plan was to work at a law firm or legal department of a federal government agency following law school. I eventually left the firm to work for the DC Council after being presented with an opportunity to work for then Councilmember, now Council Chair Phil Mendelson as his subcommittee clerk. That first job in politics put me on the path for an introduction to AOBA, first as their Vice President of Government Affairs for the DC portfolio before being promoted in 2015 to my current position as AOBA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.”
What is your favorite Holy Child memory?
“My favorite memory is co-founding the Black Awareness Club. My freshman year, I was one of a small group of African-American and Hispanic students from Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Washington, DC. We co-founded the club which was open to all and indeed, students from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds actively participated in club activities. Through the club we attended mass with Father Raymond East at his home parish in Washington, DC. He later officiated many of the masses at Holy Child.”
Does one teacher or class stand out to you?
“I took an art history class which introduced me to Egyptian history and art. That introduction led to a lifelong passion for Egyptian art and culture.”
What part of your Holy Child experience continues to guide you today?
“A commitment to a life of service is something that was nurtured and encouraged at Holy Child. I continued to be active in community service both during college and my post-collegiate years. I am particularly interested in organizations dedicated to uplifting women. Most recently, I had the privilege of joining the Board of Directors for Calvary Women’s Services. Calvary is an organization dedicated to giving women the tools they need to take positive steps toward independence.”
What is your best piece of advice to a Holy Child student or alumna who is pursuing her career/dream?
“Take risks! The crooked path can lead to amazing opportunities and a fulfilling career.
Capitalize on your network. Don’t be afraid to contact Holy Child or other alumni. A successful career is equally attributable to both your own talent and the strength of your network. It is not uncommon for professionals to learn of and secure new opportunities from within their network.
Pay it forward and introduce the next generation to your chosen careers. Take the time to share your experience and story with students and young professionals to light the flame and ignite the passion for a career in your chosen field.”
Written by: Liz Palka Minukas '04
Do you know of a Holy Child alumna with an interesting career, service project, or hobby that we should spotlight? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org!