In the heart of Nashville’s nonprofit sector, you can find Nicole Olivia Rose, CNP (Certified Nonprofit Professional). This exclusive interview gives us a peek into her inspiring career journey and the profound impact one individual can have on their community. 

From Education to Nonprofit Management 

Nicole’s interest in public service began in high school, where her involvement in the Youth Volunteer Corps sparked her passion. “I saw so many nonprofit professionals passionate about their work. But, they were struggling with the business aspects,” Nicole recalls. Little did she know that years later this experience would inspire a lifelong commitment to learning the intricate workings of the nonprofit sector. 

As a teenager, her first role at the Youth Volunteer Corps exposed her to one of her first passions, working with children, but it also exposed her to the challenges nonprofits face, motivating her to seek a more comprehensive understanding of the sector. “Having the CNP credential allowed me to grow in a different way than I was used to,” she adds, emphasizing the power of continuous learning. 

Nicole Olivia Rose working at a Youth Volunteer Corps event

Nicole Olivia Rose working at a Youth Volunteer Corps event

Nicole’s journey took an unexpected turn following her position as Activities Coordinator at the Boys and Girls Club. While she was passionate about supporting children to find meaningful ways to engage their communities, she shared, “I just didn’t think [teaching] was the right role for me.” Her quest for more led her to Kennesaw State University, where she discovered a path to greater impact. During her nonprofit internship as a Teen Director at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, she was exposed to more of the administrative functions that allow nonprofits to become sustainable changemakers. 

Reflecting on her decision to pursue the CNP credential at Kennesaw State University, Nicole shared, “I wanted to know all the ins and outs of the field I worked in.” 

Nicole’s love for learning is not confined to the walls of a classroom; rather, it is woven into the very fabric of Nicole’s approach to community service. Nicole is willing to dive into any subject to better serve her Nashville community. “I believe in the power of education. It equips you with the tools to understand, empathize, and create lasting change,” Nicole passionately states. 

Nicole Olivia Rose, CNP Celebrating her graduation from Kennesaw State University

Nicole Olivia Rose, CNP Celebrating her graduation from Kennesaw State University

The Role of Resiliency 

Nicole’s journey, like anything truly meaningful, encountered challenges. Her role as Executive Assistant at the Brown Center for Autism exposed her firsthand to the struggles families faced in accessing essential services. Undeterred, Nicole and her team took on the challenge of learning medical billing, coding, and negotiating medical contracts. Something they had no prior training or expertise in.  

Nicole Olivia Rose smiling with fellow colleagues at the Brown Center for Autism

Nicole Olivia Rose, CNP smiling with fellow colleagues at the Brown Center for Autism

Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the organization closed, leaving Nicole with a valuable lesson in resiliency. “While working at The Brown Center, I was deeply involved in addressing systemic flaws to make meaningful change for families. This experience highlighted the importance of having a well-rounded skill set, including fundraising and donor engagement, which are crucial for our sustainability even as we tackle these significant challenges.” 

Nicole’s wisdom shines through in her advice to those entering the nonprofit sector. “Educate yourself and become a well-rounded professional. Have a diverse set of skills to ensure you can do everything in your power to serve your clients,” she advises. The value of business acumen in the nonprofit sector is so often underestimated, but Nicole emphasizes its importance in creating sustainable, reliable resources for those in need. 

A Seamless Transition

As fate would have it, Nicole’s journey led her to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, where she currently manages the Giving Matters initiative. “I get to share what I’ve learned through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance with leaders every day,” she shares. Over the past seven years, Nicole has become an integral part of the Nashville nonprofit community, serving as a bridge between organizations and ensuring a smoother grant-making process. 

Managing Giving Matters, an online database of Middle Tennessee nonprofits, Nicole oversees a crucial initiative. “We look at all the financial aspects of the local nonprofit community, streamlining the grant-making process for all nonprofits,” she explains. Her work goes beyond paperwork; it’s about building connections, ensuring foundations focus on meaningful relationships with nonprofits, rather than drowning in administrative tasks. 

Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee celebrating a successful event

Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee celebrating a successful event

Nicole’s legacy is not built on titles or positions but on the lives she has touched and the communities she has uplifted. “I measure my success by the positive changes I see around me,” Nicole humbly shares. 

As Nicole continues to weave her story into the fabric of Nashville’s nonprofit community, there’s a promise of more chapters to unfold. “I get to learn about all the ways that organizations are meeting the needs of our community. It’s really fun. We get to learn together,” she shares. 

In her parting words, Nicole extends an invitation, especially to college students and young nonprofit professionals. “Get out, be active, look for young leadership groups, and consider board internships or memberships,” she urges. “There is a wide variety of things you could do to give back,” she shares, encapsulating the essence of her journey—one of curiosity, growth, and unforgiving passion. 

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