Jai’La isn’t scared. She will tackle anything.
That’s a good thing, because she does it every day. As Council on Aging’s Senior Innovation Designer, Jai’La Nored makes sure COA is at the forefront of innovation – whether that be with technology or detailing how COA programs work within the community. In our Q & A, Jai’La tells more about her job and what she does when she’s not at COA.
You are the Senior Innovation Designer – what does that mean?
Well, as a team of one, I am responsible for thinking and rethinking how our processes (such as case management) work together and function. My days run the gamut from designing and managing new apps, to figuring out new ways to engage with COA programs. The idea lab was one of the first things I was charged with creating. It’s a place for people to brainstorm and discuss their ideas; it’s a place for people to test, think, plan and work on their ideas and thoughts for COA.
Prior to COVID, the idea lab was a physical space in the office with comfortable chairs, a whiteboard, coffee and things to make it feasible to develop ideas. Now the goal is to have a virtual lab for people to use. I’m hoping to build the type of space where people can say things like, “Hey, I like that idea; how can that work in my department?”
How long have you been at COA?
I began at COA in 2016 after I graduated from Xavier University with a social work degree. I started working in COA’s quality department. I’ve always been interested in technology and innovation – enough to be dangerous! – so when Innovation became its own department in October 2019, I combined my passions for social work and innovation, and I became the Innovation Coordinator. I was recently promoted to Senior Innovation Designer.
The Innovation Department’s purpose is to help COA staff navigate new ideas, bring some process improvement to ideas and figure out what the idea looks like and how it fits within COA. One of our public-facing values is innovation, and the Innovation Department helps to bring it to life. I am available to teams to help figure out if and how their innovative ideas can improve the work we do here at COA.
How has COVID impacted you?
I didn’t realize how much I relied on being in the building (175 Tri-County Parkway) until COVID hit. With everyone working remotely, it’s harder to get a true sense of all of the innovative discussions that dominated the hallways. I really miss talking and sharing knowledge with everyone in person. Nothing replaces face-to-face interaction, but Microsoft Teams has been a great tool to attempt to fill the void. It’s easy to have virtual meetings using Teams, and I take advantage of all the features, like being able to create teams of people to work together while keeping documents in one place.
I’ve lost two important people in my life to COVID – people I’ve gone to church with for a long time. They were in nursing homes. Personally, COVID has made me think twice about what I say, and how much I listen to other people’s opinions.
I have come to realize that it’s important to keep learning from our mistakes. It’s actually been a year of growth, despite everything else going on. We’re all fortunate to get to live another day.
Which of COA’s six values stand out to you?
I spend the most time with Innovation, because I am, of course, the Innovation Designer. So I definitely think about that one the most. But I identify the most with Integrity. Nothing gets done without trust. People have to trust you; they have to trust the process. It comes up all the time, in every one of my projects. If no one trusts [a concept] they won’t have buy-in, they won’t use it, and it won’t work.
Do you like to read?
Yes I do. I used to be an avid reader. College ruined that for me! I’m slowly diving back into reading. Right now, I am reading a book titled The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. It’s not exactly light reading material, it’s like a history book. I’m a big history/politics nerd. It’s about segregation, laws and the impact of indirect disenfranchisement.
Tell us about your family…
I have a twin brother and he had twins on Easter. It has been a gift to watch them come into their own and develop their own personalities. When he needs a babysitter, it’s great for him that I only live five minutes away. Both my mother and brother live close to me in Colerain. I also have a younger sister who has cerebral palsy.
If your friends talked about your hidden talent, what would they say?
I have a lot of friends – college friends, church friends, political and work friends – they would all say my talent is organization. Disorganization throws me off. I need to know everything about where we’re going, and what time.
On the other hand, I would say my talent is being artistic. It’s relaxing to me: sketching, painting and woodworking. I want to get into kerf cutting which is cutting wood not all the way through so that it might bend in different ways.
What do you want people to know about you?
I want people to know that I’m approachable and I want to hear their ideas. I’m a pretty chill and easygoing person. My goal when I work with anyone is that I’m flexible and I would never expect more out of someone else than I would myself. Not everything has to be like work – there can be fun involved.