“Think deeply, speak gently, love much, laugh aloud, work hard, give freely, and be kind.” — Anonymous
Nikki identifies prospective grantees and advocates for their communities. Her job involves a strong human connection—getting to know her grantee organizations on a meaningful level, amplifying their stories, and working together to advance change.
At a young age, Nikki knew she wanted to work with organizations committed to lifting up communities left out of the system. Her great-great-great-grandfather was a part of the underground railroad in Illinois. His story inspired her personal commitment to advancing equity and advocating for racial and social justice.
She began her career in the nonprofit sector, which laid the foundation for her later work focused on serving low-income and underserved communities in the banking services industry. While managing grants for Sunrise Banks (a community development financial institution), she gained valuable insights into programs and policies aimed at helping communities thrive on their own terms. She also worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the Minnesota Housing Partnership, and NeighborWorks America.
Nikki holds a master’s in applied sociology with an emphasis on public policy from American University in Washington, DC, and she is a First Mover Fellow (Class of 2011) of the Aspen Institute Business and Society program. Her studies in sociology helped her understand the role of systems in our culture and solidified her dedication to foster inclusion and basic human rights for all.
Her passion for justice flows into her volunteer efforts with the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. Beyond fundraising, she also advocates—at national and state levels—for people with MS, disabilities, and chronic conditions. She sits on a national advisory council that recently advanced a change in federal policy to expand Medicare benefits and lower health care costs.
A passionate connection to communities extends to Nikki’s personal life. She’s a native of, and continues to live in, Brooklyn Park, directly adjacent to Brooklyn Center—two of the most racially diverse cities in Minnesota. She’s married to her high school sweetheart and they’re raising their biracial family in the same area she’s called home for over 40 years.
She’s drawn to reading—so much so that she reads two books at a time: one nonfiction (often related to racial justice or our nation’s history), and one fiction (often written by authors who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color). She also believes in the power of music and is an avid fan of The Monkees.
SEE BLOG POSTS BY NIKKI
January 18, 2023 | How Philanthropy Plays a Role in Economic Systems that Harm People of Color, and What It Can Do to Help Heal and Repair
November 10, 2022 | We Need Economic Models that Serve Communities of Color Better
December 12, 2019 | How Oweesta’s Native Gathering Day Cultivates Native Dreams and Helps Make Them Reality