If there was an award for the top “Behind-the-Scenes American Heroine”, Nicole might win. As a “one-woman USO” (or so her friends call her), she started her career as an Event Designer by planning the homecoming celebration for the aircraft carrier, USS Truman, in 2005. In the six months she spent planning this event in cooperation with officers from the United States Navy, she began to realize that there had to be a better way to run a high-profile event than by covering your ceiling with Post-It Notes. With that in mind, she moved to Chicago and enrolled at Lexington College to pursue a degree in Hospitality Management/Event Planning. During what became an 11-year marathon for a bachelors, Nicole took the sometimes less-than-glamorous reality of “life-happens” and bedazzled it. Raising two kids and working full-time as General Manager for one of Chicago’s top ten restaurants, Mexique, in time she paved over her rocky road with platinum.
Since graduating, she has been blessed with a career that has included positions with companies that did not *technically* have openings by using her “Upstream Salmon” approach (to be explained in a how-to later in this blog–so watch for it!). Her first company-love was an industry-leading experiential event agency out of Chicago, IL which is credited with–among other things–producing events for one of the longest-running, most respected programs on daytime television, as well as for the most powerful house in the world, The White House.
Oh, did we mention she also founded a national non-profit organization while she was doing all of the above? Established in 2004 and called Operation Morale, its initial mission was to send care packages to deployed troops. Nicole spent a semester flying back and forth to Washington DC’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center every single weekend for two months, ultimately moving in with the families of soldiers undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed for another six months. Backed by the Pentagon’s grassroots organization, America Supports You, Nicole worked with these families to create an inner network of support, and in 2006, Operation Morale’s mission statement changed its focus to preparing wounded soldiers for their first visit home since their injury. Operation Morale took care of the unseen-but-important details for these wounded warriors and their families, covering such bases as setting up cleaning service so they would not have to spend their weekends catching up on housework, stocking their kitchens with food so they would not have to go shopping, installing small organizational items per individual soldiers’ injuries, and managing all media outlets & events to ensure that well-meaning and supportive hometown communities would not inadvertently make wounded soldiers’ first trip home overwhelming.
As a Christian, Nicole now lives a happy life in San Diego with her 2 children, and manages the Business Development team at the company that brought Tupac Shakur back to life as a hologram at Coachella, AV Concepts. We don’t find it hard to believe she makes a second career out of making friends everywhere she goes, and now wants to share with the world how she lives a Life on Happy.