Nicole M. Thurston
32, Attorney at Mahoney Nashatka Richmond, PLLC, Virginia Beach
Contributions to the business community:
Hampton Roads Pride, Board of Directors 2015–2017, Member since 2014; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Professional Leadership Council; Virginia Wesleyan University Alumni Council 2014–2016; Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Community Leadership Partners
Hampton Roads Pride, BOD 2015–2017, Volunteer since 2014, Current Co-Chair for 2017 Block Party Committee, 2015–2017 Co-Chair of Sponsorship Committee; CLASS (Concerned Lawyers Advocating Spousal Safety), Volunteer since 2014; Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Community Leadership Partners; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Hampton Roads Finest Honoree 2017
How do you define success?
Success has many facets. Measuring success is personal because each of us is driven by different things. We equate success using different measurements. Professionally, success for me is being able to help clients navigate a very difficult time in their lives. Civically, success is finding an organization which I am passionate about, contributing to the organization’s mission and building friendships with individuals with the same passions. Personally, success is finding that balance in life and having a positive outlook.
What person or experience has made the biggest impact on your life?
My friend, Nancy Kelly, just had an unmeasurable zest for life, an easy ability to make anyone feel comfortable and found laughter/joy in the simplest of things before she passed at the age of 23. When going through the monotony of the work week, we tend to lose sight of all the good that happens. Within my close circle of friends, we have a mantra, “Learn Love Live like Nancy.” Losing a friend so unexpectedly, and with so much life ahead, really makes you aware of how short time is and how you have to truly enjoy every part of it and the people in your life.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
I served on the Hampton Roads Pride Board of Directors for two years (2015–2017). During that time, I served as co-chair of the Sponsorship Committee. Together, with my co-chair, we built relationships with national and local businesses, applied for and received grants, managed all benefits for sponsors and planned/organized the hospitality tent at our annual PrideFest. During our two years together as co-chairs, we oversaw fundraising of over $600,000. The funds we were able to raise directly benefitted Hampton Roads Pride’s involvement/activity with our local LGBT community.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received from a colleague or manager?
As for the people I work with, the greatest compliment is when they ask me to do something and they do not have to worry about it because they know I will take care of it. The best compliment I get from colleagues is when they refer clients to me because they believe I do a good job and they appreciate the way I handle cases.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up being, and am still to this day, a huge basketball fan. There are few things greater than March Madness. When I was a little kid I wanted to play basketball as an adult. However, the WNBA was not created until 1996 so I am not too sure what league I was dreaming of playing in. Luckily, I got to play in college and I still get to play pickup every once in a while.
Name a book that has inspired you professionally.
The Hard Hat by Jon Gordon. The book centers around the story of George Boiardi, a senior on Cornell’s Men’s Lacrosse team, who died at the age of 22 after being struck in the chest with a lacrosse ball in the fourth quarter of a game versus Binghamton University. Boiardi left a lasting impact on his team and coaches due to being a selfless, loyal, joyful, hardworking, competitive and compassionate leader and teammate. The book is filled with lessons on how to be a great teammate. When you hear the word “teammate” you immediately think of a sports team. However, I believe being a teammate applies daily. When I am representing a client, we are teammates. My colleagues and I are teammates. Even in my marriage, my wife is my teammate.
What is your best time management hack?
I am a big fan of using a to-do list. I use the list to prioritize what needs to be done on that day and within that week. I have found that emails popping up on the bottom of my screen make time management a little difficult. You see that email and want to read and respond. I have seen others recommend having two to three set times during the workday when you read/respond to emails instead of letting it interrupt other work you are doing. I am slowly trying to work on implementing this into my workday.
What’s your favorite restaurant for a lunch meeting in Coastal Virginia, and what do you order when you go there?
Mizuno Sushi. The Philly Roll is always one of the rolls I order. If it is cold enough I enjoy their miso soup, but I cannot order it during the summer. I do not believe in soup in the summer.
Is there anything that you would change about your generation as a whole? If so, what?
I would not want to change anything about my generation as I believe we bring unique perspectives and skills to the table. At the same time, I would like to see us unplug every once in a while. With the Internet and all its social media at the tip of our fingers every day it can become consuming and very easily distracting.
What do you think is Coastal Virginia’s biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I believe is the disconnected feeling between the cities which is worsened by the lack of reliable public transportation and the overburdened road system. A mass transit system which would connect the cities and allow people to freely move between the cities for work and recreation would benefit our region. The disconnect between the cities impacts the attraction of businesses and smart growth.
A big challenge I see and have heard many Norfolk councilmembers speak to is the flooding problem. When it pours here, you know for certain there are going to be areas in Norfolk you will not get your car through. There are Norfolk residents that know when a strong storm comes they can expect flooding within their home and that they need to move to higher ground. Norfolk is an attractive city within Coastal Virginia with a flooding problem.
How can Coastal Virginia better retain its younger population?
Coastal Virginia offers so much to young professionals and the beach doesn’t hurt! With the younger population, student debt is a very real, and sometimes very large, item in their expenses. The availability of affordable housing and reliable public transit can help attract and maintain millennials. Housing prices can be unattainable for young millennials starting a family in Coastal Virginia who are strapped with college/graduate school debt. If Coastal Virginia wishes to attract and retain young millennials looking to put down roots, there must be homes for them to afford and raise their family in. In addition to the housing, a strong public transit helps to eliminate the expense of car, gas, insurance, etc., which would financially help millennials.
What’s something that gives you hope for the future?
Over the last 10 years, as world politics have become more volatile and violence, particularly in our schools, has become prevalent, it would be easy for people to bury their heads in the sand and act like it is not happening. However, my generation has stepped up to speak out against what they believe to be wrong in the world and in our country. I am also proud that my generation is going to be on the right side of history when it comes to equality and acceptance.
From her nomination:
“Nicole is a family law attorney, meaning that she represents people involved in things like divorce, custody and adoption. Nicole is very bright. Even though the other attorneys in our firm have been practicing longer than her, we all seek her out for advice when dealing with a complex or unique situation. She is well-reasoned, deliberate and can always see the forest through the trees. What sets her apart even moreso, however, is her compassion and empathy for her clients. We represent people at people who are often going through one of the most difficult times in their lives. Nicole does not start by telling her clients what to do. She starts by listening and understanding them to better represent the client going forward. She is more than a person who is paid to give legal advice. She helps people navigate difficult waters in a way that no court or legal process ever can.”
—Andrew Richmond, employer