First Lady

First Lady

In recent years, seismic waves of turmoil shook the world: the pandemic, the housing crisis, inflation, rising homelessness, widespread burnout. Anxiety and stress caused by overwhelming issues fractured consensus on solutions. In the wake of all this, our city, like so many others, was fatigued by divisions and looking for answers. Wildcard mayoral candidate Yemi Mobolade came in championing unity and cooperation. Voters from diverse backgrounds embraced him as a refreshing change—our cheerful and inspiring new mayor, and the lovely woman always right there beside him. His source of unwavering support—his wife, Abbey.

She says she is not a risk-taker. But she has tackled formidable challenges: relocating across the country without a job, caring for patients in intensive care, journeying to Ethiopia, adopting while caring for a newborn, opening businesses, and agreeing to a mayoral race. 

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“I knew that deciding to be with Yemi was going to be a very different life….I knew it wasn’t going to be predictable. And that has proved to be very true.”

A Midwestern girl at heart, Abbey hails from Northern Indiana where she was born and raised. She pursued her English degree at a local university. After that, she spent a couple of years teaching junior high language arts. She cherished the connection she had with her students. However, Abbey came to realize that teaching was not her genuine calling.

She went back to school for her bachelor’s in nursing, and around that time she met Yemi at church. Their relationship blossomed. Then, six weeks in, he moved to California and then settled in Colorado Springs. After completing her studies, she packed up her belongings and joined him here. In today’s climate it’s difficult to imagine, but the nursing job market was tight in 2011. She commuted to Pueblo until she secured a position at the ICU in Penrose Main.

Abbey worked there for several years and loved nursing; she relishes the problem-solving aspect in particular. Her deep commitment to patient care ensured each individual received the necessary attention. This commitment is now shared in her role as a nurse educator at Pikes Peak State College. She especially enjoys teaching her students about patient care. “Think of the person who is your favorite person in the world,” she tells her students. “I want you to think about that person being in the bed, and what would you do differently? And what would you change? And that is the level of nursing that I want you to strive for.” She admits it’s not possible all the time. But that’s the mentality she instills in her students.

Widespread healthcare worker burnout is a problem, Abbey said. It’s a result of issues within the healthcare system and is impacting patient care. A continuous cycle of new nurses, who require guidance, enter an already strained environment where exhausted veteran nurses need a break. To solve this, Abbey advocates for enhanced partnerships between schools and healthcare organizations. While current partnerships are good, she envisions a deeper connection. Immerse nursing students in units during their last year of schooling; learn to navigate the organization while still learning the essentials. “Nurses stay in jobs when they feel like they belong, and they are part of the culture,” she says. “And when they have really good mentorship.” The challenge is finding mentors who are not overtaxed themselves.

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As a nurse educator, First Lady of Colorado Springs, and mother of three, Abbey maintains her own balancing act. They adopted their eldest child from Ethiopia when he was four. That was just months after their second oldest child, a daughter, was born. Not long after, she gave birth to another son. The timing was a struggle. They initiated the adoption process before knowing about the pregnancy. Helping a young boy acclimate to a new culture presented a steep learning curve for Abbey. Also, she admits the early days of her marriage to Yemi posed challenges. They didn’t marry young, and both were quite stubborn. It was hard work to find their balance. Abbey often felt overwhelmed. She longed for a community of parents who shared similar experiences.

She came out of these experiences with a strong desire to build community. She and Yemi are passionate about fostering community, driven by the deeply held belief that sharing burdens within a supportive community is vital for success. This led them to establish Good Neighbors Meeting House and The Wild Goose Meeting House in downtown Colorado Springs. They envisioned a community hub that could foster connections. These businesses addressed the city’s need for community environments. Together, they share the goal of nurturing and expanding communities. 

They are committed to creating resilient spaces that foster growth and strong bonds.

Abbey is especially focused on the city’s collective mental health. She sees mental healthcare as Colorado Springs’ most essential priority. Without improvement there, everything—healthcare, homelessness, education, substance abuse—is affected. 

“Sometimes I’m a little taken aback by the level of anger that people are just living in,” she told me. “It’s been a rough few years, and I think that prioritizing mental health is hard. People don’t always know how to take care of their mental health.”

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Her goal is to help de-stigmatize mental health. That involves encouraging people to acknowledge and discuss their struggles. Normalizing these conversations marks the first step toward seeking help and healing. She’s assembling a team to identify under-recognized city resources. The programs are there, but people need to learn about them and how to access them. Her goal is to leverage her position as first lady to spotlight these organizations, enhancing awareness. Abbey then aims to identify remaining needs and mobilize people ready to meet them. “We have the workforce, and we have the work. We just need to collaborate.”

She pointed out that any of us can easily make a difference in some small way. “I think we can start with really, really simple things,” Abbey says. “Things that are literally as simple as knowing your neighbors. Do you know their names? And if you don’t, start there.”

Life’s busyness often makes engaging with neighbors and coworkers an effort. But in a rapidly changing city like Colorado Springs, community doesn’t spontaneously form. Humans crave connection. Realizing the harm of isolation, investing in those around us is a simple yet crucial action.

This passion for bringing people together is close to Abbey’s heart. But as a self-described introvert who has a lot on her plate, it can be a challenge. Abbey says encouraging her to get out of her comfort zone is just one of the many ways Yemi’s brought change to her life. 

She admires Yemi’s relentless dedication and hard work. And his passion for the betterment of those around him. “I wish people could see the behind the scenes. The amount of time, and the amount of effort, and the amount of attention that this man gives to everything he does. It is otherworldly. I’ve known him for years, and years, and years, and so I know him better than anyone else, guaranteed; good, bad, and ugly. The man is gold.”