Our most important projects for change often fail because our teams cannot make the leap from theory (vision, values, knowledge) to practice (behavior change, impact). We dream big, but don’t get to see the promise of our dreams fulfilled. I help teams overcome these barriers to impact and achieve their long-term goals by:
We must move beyond the intellectual exercises of naming our values (diversity, inclusion, equity and others) to learning new practices that shift behavior and augment impact.
Learning programs that transmit ideas without shaping practices to change behavior are insufficient for improved impact. We need to combine knowledge and praxis for transformational learning.
We spend time writing great plans, but then have not learned how to bring strong strategic thinking into our day-to-day teamwork. We need to learn how to learn together, and leverage that collective learning for better strategic decisions. Additionally, by increasing our literacy in power, oppression, politics, and the economy we are better equipped to make smart collective choices.
Focusing coaching support on individuals alone keeps us from transforming our teams. Team coaching and engagement for growth can help a whole organization to thrive.
Start-up support Measure twice and cut once. Build the efficient, decision-making, power building systems and structures you need to succeed.
Guidance in bringing your values into your day-to-day operations Take values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice and learn how to live them with your staff and members to more readily have the impact you seek. This can include:
Holistic organizational transformation Do a deep dive on reorienting the full systems, relationships, cultures, and strategies of your organization towards leveraging your values in your day-to-day practices for achieving broader, more systemic wins.
Trainings and leadership development Leverage skills of community organizing, strategic change, and even some comedy improv in growing the strength, unity, and effectiveness of your teams.
Practices of whole self, whole team Learn to integrate practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion into your workplace to encourage all team members to bring their whole selves to work and lead a more fulfilled work life, and have a more productive impact on your community.
Building blocks of justice Leadership development programming on the skills and core concepts of building youth leadership for social justice and civic change.
Community organizing workshops Teaching the foundational skills and concepts of community organizing and putting big ideas into action collectively.
Staff support for organizational change Staff training and development for increasing values-based leadership.
Co-learning and exploratory dialogue Youth and young adults thrive on exploratory dialogue and the chance to uncover their own sources of knowledge and wisdom, I help create spaces and experiences for this learning and discovery.
Hailing from Chicago, I first discovered community organizing as the writer, director, and producer of my own one-woman skit about Saul Alinksy and his start in the Back of the Yards. As I explored the foundations of community organizing in my hometown, my Polish and Indian roots led me to develop a commitment to immigration reform that began with organizing for racial justice in college and continued with my time volunteering at Casa del Migrante in Tijuana and working with SOS Racisme in France.
From 2007 to 2010, I served as Organizer and Regional Field Director for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a project of the Center for Community Change. At FIRM, I focused on building power for immigration reform at the local, state, and federal levels, coordinating activity between numerous coalition stakeholders and community organizations across the campaign. I specialized in online-offline organizing strategy integration and taught others in the movement to use these tools more effectively in their own advocacy and outreach. In 2009, I co-founded the country’s largest cell phone action network and authored a definitive guide to online and offline organizing.
After several years of working nationally, I wanted the opportunity to deepen my skills in state and local community organizing and organizational development as the Director of the Maine League of Young Voters. Our staff and community-led board worked with youth across the state to build power for an end to the student debt crisis, make a case for more just representation in state and local government, and create more opportunities for youth leadership development. Inspired by the need for broader alternative economic development models to support the future of youth across the country, I then served as Director of Strategy and Development at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a long-standing organization that helps communities own more of their local economies and direct their development through more just and equitable means. At ILSR, I led team strategy and fundraising and assisted in program design and partnership building. My love of systemic growth, improved operations, and providing coaching and support to ambitious teams then led me to the founding of UWC.
I currently serve as a volunteer advisor to several start-ups and local non-profits and I serve on the Board of Trustees of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. I make merry through comedy improv classes and workshops, and enjoy building community with my neighbors in Lewiston, Maine where I live with my husband, Ben.
See more about my experience on LinkedIn.
Nicola’s exceptional intelligence combined with her fierce hunger for social justice and ability to authentically connect with others makes her not only a powerful leader but an inspiration to be around. She is inherently strategic, and during her tenure as Executive Director of The Maine League of Young Voters consistently engaged these skills to grow the organization, unite the membership base, develop and implement a strategic plan and secure the financial stability of the organization. As former Chair of The Maine League of Young Voters, I was constantly impressed by Nicola’s unique talent, bright personality, and profound ability to inspire and implement positive growth and development.
I have worked with Nicola where she has independently created curriculum and where we have collaboratively created curriculum. In both cases, Nicola produces exemplary curriculum that drives toward meaningful implementation of new knowledge, skills or mindsets for participants. When working independently, she thoughtfully probes for the information she needs to create the sessions I had in mind. When working collaboratively, she both leads and follows in a way that produces great work and builds relationship. Nicola is my go-to curriculum developer because she is so effective and fun to work with.