Nicole Watkins, Founder and President

Originally from New York City, Nicole Watkins considers herself a social entrepreneur. She loves everything that entrepreneurship embodies but seeks to be purposeful in her application of it. Throughout her life, Nicole was surrounded by and immersed in the qualities of strong women. Being raised in a single parent household taught Nicole many things; namely that “nothing beats a failure but a try” so not only “try” but “succeed” at whatever you do. Without knowing how and where she would attend college, she was simply informed by her mother that she was “going” and “go” she did. At one point, Nicole was the only person in her immediate family to attend and graduate college until her mother joined her at Syracuse University.

Her educational accomplishments include receiving a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Global Entrepreneurship and focus on Marketing Management from the Whitman School of Management, a Masters degree in Television, Radio and Film Production from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications, a Bachelors degree in Speech Communication from the College of Visual and Performing Arts and most recently a Certificate of Advanced Study in Public Administration through the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She became deeply involved in student life by serving for two years as President of the Black Graduate Student Association, a Teaching Assistant for three years and a Fellow for one year in the Department of African American Studies.

Career accomplishments include working with Operation Hope, Inc. a non-profit dedicated to financial literacy for youth in the capacity of Program Manager for their Banking on Our Future Los Angeles Program. During her tenure at Syracuse University, Ms. Watkins also worked with various academic units and departments inclusive of the School of Education, the African American Studies Department and the Division of Student Support and Retention.

Ms. Watkins has considerable event management, programming, and media relations experience. She served for four years as the Special Events Manager for the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund and has worked previously for the Syracuse Boys & Girls Clubs, Discovery Communications, Inc., and the TCI Companies (a Washington DC based event/destination management company). In addition, she worked for many years in the music industry in the areas of marketing, promotion and corporate affairs for WEA (Warner/Elektra/Atlantic) Corporation, Columbia Records and Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.

Community involvement included serving as a Big Sister/Mentor with the Syracuse Boys and Girls Clubs, developing, and managing programs through one of the clubs entitled “Young Women of Action” and the “Job Search Club”. Serving as a Big Sister for the Center for Community Alternatives Mentoring Program and Teens in Action Program located at the Southwest Community Center. Community service initiatives have included working with the Living Room (local AIDS hospice) and the Dorothy Day House (home for women who have experienced domestic violence and displacement).

Current areas of interest include working with initiatives that service young underserved women of color who are considered “at risk”. She currently serves as a Board Member for ItTakesAVillage, Inc., a nonprofit which addresses the major issue of children dropping out of and not being able to attend school in Zimbabwe relative to the AIDS pandemic. For a long time she questioned her purpose while it surrounded her entire life; her love, passion and commitment to uplifting women is the only legacy she has known.

Advisory Board Members

  • Natalie Byrdsong
  • Krystal Cooper
  • JaSheika James
  • Tasha Jones
  • Nodesia Hernandez
  • Katherine Hills
  • Chariesse Turner
  • Tania Williams

Emeritus Board Members

  • Cheryl Dixon-Hills
  • Eva Williams

Ambassador Board Members

  • Amber Green, Image Initiative Alum
  • SaQuota Reaves, Image Initiative Alum
  • Kenneisha Reaves, Image Initiative Alum
  • Chelsea Willis, Image Initiative Alum

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