Due to his blazing passion for promoting diversity within the construction industry, Allstate took notice and named Joseph Cole the 2013 Allstate Give Back Day Hero. This annual award’s aim is to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by recognizing selfless individuals that produce efforts of volunteerism within their community.
Cole’s journey, promoting diversity within the architectural world, began during his teenage years. Although he held a love for the construction business at an early age, he couldn’t grasp the idea of a career in architecture as a realistic goal. It wasn’t until his high school drafting teacher, Mr. Gimmel, spotted the burning desire he possessed and suggested (on the last day to apply) that he submit an application to Nashville’s ACE (Architecture , Construction, Engineering) Mentor Program. As fate would have it, he took his trusted teacher’s advice and the rest as they say, is history.
During his enrollment in the ACE organization, Cole recalls the program providing him with an array of useful skills for success in his field. Participation in the ACE program was inspiration that led Cole to pursue a degree in architecture from the University of Tennessee. It was during his college days that his efforts were rewarded when he was granted the Chancellor’s Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award for improving diversity throughout the campus. His efforts didn’t stop there as he continued to devote his time, energy, and passion to promoting diversity within his community. Cole made the most of his world-class education by dabbling in several on-campus causes While completing the rigorous architectural program, he played an imperative role in enhancing the growth of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students chapter. Additionally, he was involved in INROADS, an organization constructed to assist in the placement of youth in business and industry; and, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a program utilized to enhance awareness of current events and political issues among the minorities on campus.
Upon graduation, Cole accepted a position with Thomas, Miller and Partners in Brentwood, Tennessee. He has also revisited his roots by once again becoming a part of the ACE program, as mentor rather than a mentee, where he visits with students on a weekly basis. Cole believes mentorship is a great tool in promoting diversity in his industry. Typically, the architectural field is not very diverse due to factors such as socioeconomic issues; however, Cole stands strong that providing mentorship is the best way to improve diversity in this field.
When asked what it meant to him to be honored as a recipient of the Allstate Give Back Day Hero Award, Cole remarked that it is “truly special to be in a position to make a positive impact through volunteerism in the community.” He hopes that more people will be inspired to get involved and make a difference in the community. If Cole’s future is any indication of his past accomplishments then he has a lot to look forward to, as do his young pupils who aspire to succeed in the architectural field.