The 35U began with a vision to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by telling them about the leaders of today. With millions of people involved in government, education, business and community service across the country, it sometimes may be hard for the 35U to connect to leaders individually simply due to an age barrier. The 35U to us is any young adult from the ages of 18-35 in this country. These individuals have a voice – they can vote, serve, and most importantly, they can make a difference for future generations.
Today’s Q&A feature is Jonathan Randle, President Pro-Tempore of the Prairie View City Council.
Jonathon was elected to the Prairie View City Council 2013 and was re-elected to a second term in 2015. He has earned a reputation for fiscal responsibility, servant leadership, and a commitment to the people of Prairie View, TX. Born in Brenham and raised in Prairie View, Jonathon attended Waller Public Schools and earned a name as a three-sport athlete at Waller High School, where he played football, basketball and ran track for the Bulldogs. He later received a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology from Texas Lutheran University while continuing a successful football career. Leading with his passion for education, mentorship, health and fitness, Jonathon accepted positions with the Hempstead Independent School District and most recently with Waller High School, where he serves as a teacher as well as a football and basketball coach. Jonathan believes that “to whom much is given, much is required.” He is proud to be from Waller County and believes it is important to give back to the community that has invested so much into him. That’s why he is involved in a variety of professional, civic and community organizations, including the Texas Black City Councilmembers and Mayors Association, the ICU Trailriders and the Young Elected Officials Network. He is also an active member of the Greater St. Peters Missionary Baptist Church.
Jonathan is an inspiration to the youth in Texas that want to get involved in government and public service.
We caught up with Jonathan to find out what leadership means to him and what advice he would give to the next generation of leaders.
Why did you choose this career path?
Honestly, I believe this career path chose me more so than the other way around. Being raised by a mother who was a Desert Storm veteran and nurse and a grandmother who was an educator for over 30 years, I believe my desire to serve people was inherited. I have always been passionate about my community and giving back, but I never would have imagined that my platform would be in an elected capacity. My desire to run for public office came from watching the surrounding communities grow, while my city remained stagnant. I saw running for City Council as an opportunity to spark a change in my community, gain a better understanding of the issues, and inspire the next generation of residents to get involved.
Who inspired you to get involved?
There are many people who inspired me, but my biggest inspiration to get involved came from my church. As a young adult, my church had many initiatives that required us to go into the surrounding community and serve people. Seeing the joy on the faces of those we had the opportunity to assist, gave me great satisfaction. Through the church, I was introduced to people in my community who I consider to be my friends and mentors. Eventually, those people encouraged me to run for my city council position, and they continue to be my biggest supporters.
How do you define a leader?
A leader is someone who can inspire people to believe in a common vision and work toward a common goal. Someone who puts the needs of those they serve above their own and selflessly gives as much of themselves without the expectation of receiving anything in return.
What projects are you currently involved with in the community that engages the next generation of leaders?
My community is fortunate to be the home of Prairie View A&M University. Through collaboration with the University and its different organizations, we host a variety of different events that focus on the education and engagement of our future leaders. Some of the biggest projects hosted are educational panels about the importance of being involved, voter education through candidate forums, voter registration drives, and voter deputation classes. Mentorship is a major part of my day-to-day activities. Being a city council member as well as a high school educator in the area allows me to be a mentor to many young adults between the ages of 14-24 years old.
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders who want to get involved?
First, I would tell them to be genuine in their pursuits. Understand why you are choosing to become involved and the lives you want to impact by doing so. As long as your intentions are pure and selfless, you will not lose sight of your goals or jeopardize your integrity. Be strategic and calculated in your approach. Do your research and always be prepared. Never let anyone tell you that your age is a disqualifier or that your youthfulness makes you inadequate. You are already great because God made you that way. Always “lift as you climb,” meaning as you excel, always reach back to bring someone up with you. Lastly, I understand that I may never change or touch the entire world, but ultimately, the people who I’ve impacted along the way will contribute to making the world and society better. Therefore, go out and touch as many people as possible leading with love, serving with integrity, and building for the future.