Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Being the child of a military family, I had the opportunity and pleasure of living in some beautiful places around the world. I was born in Wales, United Kingdom, and then spent some time in Iceland and on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. In 1990, my family moved to the gorgeous state of Virginia, and we haven’t left!
I received my bachelor’s of science degree in psychology from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. When I graduated and moved back home, I had every intention of going back to school to continue my studies in psychology, but then chose a different path. I saw an advertisement for a development position with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), a well-known organization in my household given my parents had been long-time members and admirers of their work, so I decided to apply. Thankfully, I got the job and loved every minute working for a mission driven, conservation focused organization. Twenty-one years later, I am still working in the field of conservation, and I wouldn’t change a thing!
Currently, I live in the city of Charlottesville with breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park a mere 40-minute drive from my front door. I’m married and have an 11-year-old son. Three years ago, we adopted a sweet dog from our local ASPCA and named her Nala.
How did you get your start in the nonprofit sector? What do you enjoy most about working with nonprofits?
My nonprofit career started in 2002 when I started working in the planned giving department of the National Wildlife Federation. Over 12 years, I moved around the organization working in various roles mostly focused on operations, fundraising, events, and relationship building. I continued that same line of work at the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Shenandoah National Park Trust, and now with Outer Banks Forever.
What I enjoy most about working with nonprofits are the people I meet and work with inside and outside of the organization. People who work for nonprofits are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable people you’ll ever meet. It’s a daily inspiration to work with them. The donors, board members, and volunteers involved with and supporting your organization are equally as invested and passionate about the work you are doing as you are. I love meeting our supporters, hearing their stories about why they are connected to the Outer Banks. From their precious childhood memories to the memories they are making with their present-day families, it’s why they go back year after year and support an organization like Outer Banks Forever with their time and resources.
Why is philanthropy important to you?
Philanthropy is important to me because it’s a way that we can interact with the world in a positive, selfless light that can make lasting change and impact on the things we care about. It’s how we can teach our children to take care of what’s around them and make it better. It’s how people can come together in tragedy and make a profound difference simply using their time and resources. I could go on and on! I can’t imagine a world without philanthropy.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love being out in nature. One of the big perks of living in Charlottesville is the beautiful parks, trails, and water access we have. I love to hike and walk our local trails, Shenandoah National Park, and in the summertime go tubing down the Rivanna River. You can also find me trying a new restaurant, winery, or brewery with my family, or cozied up on my couch for a fun movie night at home.
What do you want people to understand about Outer Banks Forever and our Outer Banks national parks?
We are a small but mighty team here at Outer Banks Forever! We have three staff members who care deeply about national parks and want to see them thrive in every way possible. We have eight wonderful, devoted board members who are passionate about the Outer Banks, this organization’s work, and support it wholeheartedly with their time and resources. All of us together make Outer Banks Forever and we look forward to getting to know YOU and why the Outer Banks National parks are important to you. Connect with us anytime!
Questions for Nicole? Email her any time at NicoleErickson@OBXForever.org