Staff Spotlight: Nora Cobo

Since June is membership month during our 10 year anniversary, we thought it fitting to sit down with Nora Cobo, Director of Development. We talked about the driving force behind membership, Team Lincoln, the finer points of Joseph Haydn, and pulled pork (we’ll get to that one in a minute).

In your own words, summarize your role here at the Cottage.

I’m the head of the Development department, which includes fundraising, membership, marketing, communications, and events. Basically, my job is to generate support of all kinds for President Lincoln’s Cottage’s mission and operation.

What’s your other professional experience and background? How has it helped you in your role here at the Cottage?

I came to the Cottage via DC’s nonprofit sector – specifically, youth and education focused organizations like Center for Inspired Teaching (whose Real World History program was featured in a previous newsletter) and the Latin American Youth Center. I also volunteered for five years with CARECEN helping adults prepare for their naturalization interviews. These experiences have been imperative in my role here, because education and citizenship are such a critical part of our mission, and being steeped in the local nonprofit sector has given me a range of exposure to local and national trends relevant to our work.

In February’s Proclamation, we were lucky to read the genesis story from your mom (and Team Lincoln member) about how you first got involved with he Cottage. Any other comments or additions to that story?

The Cottage Conversation I attended with my mom was my introduction to President Lincoln’s Cottage, but I became aware of the breadth of activity when I interviewed for my current position three years ago. A colleague from a previous job told me I should really look at the Cottage’s work in fighting for freedom today – through programs like Students Opposing Slavery and through exhibits like Can You Walk Away? – and I realized the organization was not only telling the inspiring story of the place, but using that story to catalyze action today. I knew I had to be a part of it.

What IS Team Lincoln? How would someone be eligible to join Team Lincoln? What are the best perks of being a Team Lincoln member?

Broadly speaking, Team Lincoln is the body of supporters of President Lincoln’s Cottage. You can become a formal member of Team Lincoln by signing up on our website, by sending a donation through the mail, or when you visit in-person. There are so many great perks of membership, including discounts on future tours (the format and trained guides ensure they’re different every time!) and merchandise in our amazing museum store, complementary admission to some of our best programming, and behind-the-scenes opportunities – but, to me, the biggest benefit of supporting President Lincoln’s Cottage is knowing you’re helping make this unique place available 362 days per year. President Lincoln’s Cottage is the only National Monument that doesn’t receive federal operating funds, so it is private support – including membership – that keeps our doors open and our mission-driven programming on the forefront.

What’s your single-most-favorite day at the Cottage?

Every time we host a Naturalization Ceremony with USCIS, I feel extremely proud to be on this team. The opportunity to offer this incredible place as a space for reflection and inspiration as people take the Oath of Citizenship is one for which I’m very grateful and honored. President Lincoln considered issues of justice, freedom, and citizenship here – it’s incredibly meaningful to me that we can continue to make this place available for people thinking about and acting on those same issues today.

Down to brass tacks: Lincoln. What’s your favorite Lincoln fact, story, or quote? Basically, what do you like about the guy?

We tell a story on the Cottage tour about Lincoln admonishing Colonel Scott for coming to him – but then regretting his admonishment, and apologizing for it. I connect with this story on a very basic, human level. It reminds me that everyone makes mistakes (even the leaders we so deeply admire) and the power of admitting that mistake and offering an apology.

In one sentence, why should someone visit the Cottage?

The tour is powerful, the guides are amazing, the views are breathtaking, and the history is ever-relevant.

What’s an interesting fact about you that no one knows?

I’m a skincare aficionado! I love learning about why all those different lotions, toners, creams, and serums can (or don’t) accomplish what they promise, and I follow a ton of skincare blogs and podcasts in my spare time. I think in an alternate life I’d have been a cosmetic chemist.

What’s in your fridge? Just kidding. But seriously.

My husband and I are from North Carolina, so it might not come as a surprise that we slow-cooked a 15-pound pork shoulder a while back, and we’re still working through leftovers! Aside from that, I love summer fruits and veggies – berries galore, beautiful red tomatoes, summer squash, and fragrant herbs are filling up our fridge shelves lately.

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, besides Lincoln, who would it be? Why?

I’ve always been a fan of Joseph Haydn’s compositions. The beautiful harmonies combined with subtle whimsy make me the best kind of happy, and most accounts paint him as a thoughtful, kind person who was respected by his peers. I’d love to have a long conversation with him and learn more about what and who inspired him.

For further inquiries about any ongoing development projects or if that charcoal face mask really works, get in touch with Nora Cobo at NCobo@lincolncottage.org.

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