Hannah Fussell (Miami Dade ‘14) shares how her corps experience aided in the creation of a successful start-up and what it means to be a Latinx leader at her North Carolina-based company, Nugget.
September 28, 2020
Hannah Fussell was a 2014 Miami-Dade corps member where she was named Rookie Teacher of the Year, before moving to North Carolina to teach while joining the start-up Nugget. She serves as the co-founder and chief product officer for Nugget. Located in North Carolina, Nugget creates foam furniture for kids that is part-couch, part-toy, and full of imagination.
How has your corps experience shaped the way you approach your work now?
It impacts [my work] almost every day. Being an educator will always be one of the things that I point to that led to my success in this role, and with our business. I was relentless in my pursuit of making our product successful, a courage I got from being relentless in my pursuit of educating my kids.
With our brand, there is a lot of communication to customers involved—I often think in “lesson plans” to encourage cohesive understanding in our customers. My knowledge of “what sticks” impacts the way I shape meetings and host brainstorms, as well as my presentations. My mastery of classroom management and classroom culture are skills that have led me to find success in staff cohesiveness and incentive.
It turns out that we’re all just big kids, and classroom skills are incredibly applicable to the adults in the room too. For this reason, I am always looking to hire former educators.
“Being an educator will always be one of the things that I point to that led to my success in this role, and with our business. I was relentless in my pursuit of making our product successful, a courage I got from being relentless in my pursuit of educating my kids. ”
How does your identity inform your leadership practice?
There are very few women of color leading digitally native startups in North Carolina. I am outspoken about the ways in which the manufacturing and tech spaces are discriminatory and exclusive for women and people of color. I am comfortable with making people of privilege uncomfortable, because I think the little girls that look like me, who don’t see themselves in these organizations, deserve it.
The majority of our team identifies as Black or Brown, so it’s exceptionally important and a responsibility I treasure to be a person in leadership making critical decisions for our company that can eloquently speak on what it’s like to be a person of color in a space that’s not designed for us to succeed.
What are your hopes for Latinx students in our state?
I hope that they can more easily see themselves in the leading industries of our state—I am desperate to see more Latinx representation in tech, medicine, manufacturing, and engineering. We can’t expect our Latinx students to shoot for these industries without seeing that people like them have been able to hold it down.