Success Stories

Activist earns advocacy award

Ashley Nickels, second from left, is pictured with other
Women's Center staff members.

Women’s Center Assistant Director Ashley Nickels received the 2010 Advocate Award by the Young Nonprofit Professional Network of Greater Grand Rapids. She was recognized for outstanding leadership as president for the Grand Rapids chapter of the National Organization of Women, and her extensive community activism and advocacy for gender justice.

“The hardest part of accepting this award was that I don’t do this for me,” said Nickels. “I really truly believe that what I do empowers others to be advocates for change.”

Nickels has served as president of NOW-GR for three years. In this time, Nickels reinvigorated the non-active, financially unstable organization, to a stabilized, active membership base. Due to the organization’s success, NOW-GR was named the NOW Chapter of the Year in Michigan in 2009. During the last three years, Nickels also organized many grassroots mobilization events and programming.

Nickels said she defines herself by her genuine activism and advocacy for gender justice issues, and believes being an advocate is a full-time commitment.

 “I believe that feminist leadership is about being authentic. I try to remain authentic in all that I do, including my activism,” said Nickels. “I believe strongly in gender justice and I work toward gender justice in all aspects of my life — from how I interact with my children, to the type of volunteer work that I do in the community, to the work I do in the Women’s Center.”

Nickels is also the co-chair for the Kent County Domestic Violence Community Coordinated Response Team, vice president of administration for the Michigan National Organization for Women, committee representative on the Women’s Resource Center Governance Committee, and a volunteer at the YWCA of West Central Michigan.

by Sarah Schultz

This story was filed with the tags: Helping the Community, Public Administration, Volunteerism