2018 RISING STAR AWARD WINNER
Junior League of Phoenix
Change happens in a multitude of ways. In some cases, it’s the result of slow and steady progress. In others it happens by jumping in with two feet. Ericka Nicholes from the Junior League of Phoenix is a woman who optimizes the jump-on-in approach.
Since her provisional year of 2014-15, Ericka Nicholes has made a tremendous impact within the Junior League of Phoenix in a staggeringly short period of time.
Inspired by the League’s mission towards leadership development, Ericka became involved in the newly formed Community, Outreach, Leadership and Advocacy committee, ultimately serving as Vice Chair.
Finding her passion within the committee, Ericka honed in on the advocacy component, becoming the first chair of the JLP Public Affairs Committee in just her second active year.
Ericka inspired her committee to research and work on legislative issues that impacted the League’s service areas and defined what a successful Public Affairs Committee should look like. Under Ericka’s leadership, the League hosted a voter registration drive, had a Day at the Capitol, and initiated the process of designating the JLP headquarters as a potential polling place for the 2018 elections.
But Ericka’s commitment to her community isn’t limited solely to the work she’s doing with her League. In 2016, she became the foster parent of a six year old who was having trouble in school due to an oversized classroom and lack of resources. In search of a solution, Ericka began her quest to improve the education and outlook for not just her own child, but all of Phoenix’s foster children who are often forced to change schools as many as 3-4 times in a school year while in the system.
Ericka has helped develop policies in schools on how to better orient these children, and provide the support and sense of stability they need to succeed. Currently working to change legislation and laws as it pertains to foster youth and their families, Ericka has been asked to speak in Washington, D.C. to share her thoughts on the foster care system and to help develop proactive strategies that states can use to prevent children from going into foster care in the first place.
Ericka has also been a powerful force in improving diversity and inclusion in both her community and her League. A prized member of the AJLI Women of Color Affinity Group, Ericka defines inclusion as connecting each one of us to our Mission. She believes that the true power of diversity comes from leveraging our unique experiences and contributions—and how these help fuel the success of our organization.
Ever-present, Ericka is an incredible positive force at the JLP. Known for her “cool calm,” she continually proves herself as a steady, respected leader whose personality, skills and positive attitude have helped propel her work and inspire her fellow members to be their own brand of leader within their communities—to be brave enough to step into the unknown and become a powerful force for change.