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FunTimes Magazine

Sekela Coles, PhD

Sekela Coles, PhD, Professor of Business, Harcum College and Delaware County Community College; elected Councilwoman, 7th District of Upper Darby, November 2013. She was raised in West Philadelphia by two hardworking parents, Pattison and Jacqueline Pierce- Mungai, who instilled in her the importance of education and community. Dr. Coles has stayed active in numerous community endeavors since moving to the Upper Darby community in 2003.

Best and worst decision?
 “The best—to become involved with helping my community; it is rewarding to be a public servant, raising awareness about issues, workshops and resources. The residents are very diverse, so I have hosted an interfaith prayer vigil, and town halls on public safety. It’s a lot of work and challenging at times, but I love engaging with people and seeing how we are all similar. I like my children to see that. “The worst—I’m not sure that I can pinpoint a horrible decision. We must learn from our mistakes and failures. Anything that may not have gone right, I can’t control; everything happens for a reason, an opportunity to grow and learn.”

Dream job as a child?
 “A top one was to teach in college, because my grandmother was a teacher and both my parents were educators. I have been able to do that. When I completed school, it didn’t seem so, because I studied business and finance. Down the line, after I started a family, it became a reality and I’m so happy it went that way.”

Barriers to female leadership?
“Women face greater scrutiny than men. It might emanate from being objectified, marginalized or that different assumptions are made about our competence, or by those not used to seeing women in leadership. That can impact the self-confidence of women. It is a unique challenge that women face in local politics.”

Who inspires you?
“…there are many women that inspire me; there are many trailblazers — Michelle Obama, our former First Lady; Kamala Harris, the first African American female senator in California, and former Maryland congresswoman Donna Edwards, and a new representative in Minnesota, a Somali-American, Ilhan Omar.”

Challenges for next Generation?
“Many are newer challenges because of the rapid pace of information, traveling and technology. They have to understand what’s appropriate and what’s not. It’s okay to be bold and beautiful or sexy and smart while remaining strong when facing adversity.”