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Colorado Springs’ New Mayor Shines Light on Mental Health

Mayor Mobolade: Making Wellness a Priority for Himself and the Pikes Peak Region

Mayor Yemi Mobolade is a longtime believer in making physical and mental health a priority.

“There are things I do on a daily basis,” he says. “There are things I do on a weekly basis. And there are things I do on a monthly basis. … Many of these practices and rhythms I actually started before I became mayor, so I feel like I’ve been able to carry those grounding rhythms into the work as mayor.”

Each month, he meets with his spiritual director “to just center and step away from the mayor identity and just focus on who Yemi is and his health.”

Each week, he meets with his executive coach, who helps him focus on his leadership.

Each day, he awakens at 5:30 am, exercises (an app-based workout with Jillian Michaels, for inquiring minds), spends a bit of quiet time reflecting and reading, then makes coffee for his wife before they get their three young children ready for school. If he takes a day off from his routine, he notices.

Finding Balance

Mobolade lives in Colorado Springs with wife, Abbey, a nurse and nursing educator, and their children, ages 10, 6 and 4. He says he finds balance between taking care of the city and taking care of his family in three primary ways:

  • Being efficient with his time and activities. He might attend event, but leave a little early to tuck his kids in.
  • Empowering three leaders in his office of community affairs to help represent him.
  • Reframing the idea of “leadership” to include showing up at his kids’ dance recitals and soccer games.  

The median age is Colorado Springs is 34 years old, he says. Many residents are raising young families. He says he tries to demonstrate through his actions that taking care of family is leadership, too.

Overcoming Challenges

Originally from Nigeria, Mobolade immigrated to the United States at the age of 17 to pursue the American Dream through education. Since then, he has earned multiple bachelor’s and master’s degrees from multiple universities.

He previously served as the city’s small business development administrator and the vice president of business retention and expansion for the Colorado Springs Chamber & Economic Development Corporation. And on June 6, he was sworn in as the city’s first black, first immigrant and first non-Republican mayor (he is independent).

Over the last few months, he has had several full-circle moments, including handing out “Mayors Young Leaders Awards” similar to one he received in 2015 and speaking to a room of newly naturalized citizens–a privilege he earned himself six years ago.

But life hasn’t always been easy.  

“I didn’t grow up in a most-perfect home,” he says. “I had challenges in my own home, feeling like a misfit. I butted heads with my dad. I tried to run away from home. I had my own struggle with suicidal thoughts. And I’ve overcome. … Those two parts of the story are really important—not just what our struggle is, but the process of overcoming. I’m a product of good mentors and people who saw something in me before I saw it in myself.”

He wants others to know that if they’re struggling, they are not alone.

“It turns out most of us have struggled in one way or the other,” he says. “What I love in terms of what we’re doing today is leaders like me coming out and being able to talk about it.”

Website: https://coloradosprings.gov/mayor-yemi-mobolade
 

Mobolade's administration plans to launch an initiative in 2024 called 1000 Block Parties.

“This initiative has so many possibilities around it because it’s so easy. It’s so accessible. It is so tangible, and people get it. … If we can get neighbors to know as few as six of their neighbors, it drastically improves their mental health,” he says. “This is something that everyone can come around.”

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