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Nicole Eley-Carr '06

Alumni Leader Spotlight

Nicole Eley-Carr '06

Director of Engagement, Ford Foundation

I'm a storyteller. Digital Thinker. A Public Media Nerd. Mom. Advocate. Millennial(ish). A Proud HOKIE. A bi-racial woman. A global citizen. Rooted in the US South.

I mentioned the different layers of my identity above ...

It's these same layers that drive a lot of what I do professionally, working to understand what makes us who we are... what drives us... what motivates us. And then developing communications & content strategies that engage different communities based on these interests, passions, etc.

I've taken this super power from non-profit organizations to public media and now The Ford Foundation, where I'm focussed on connecting BIG ideas about justice & equity to other foundation leaders, policy makers, and the media. Ideas like: Technology. What if we thought of it as a public good? Like water or electricity? Imagine what's possible if there was an entire field of people working to make technology work for all? That's #PublicInterestTech.

It's humbling and inspiring work!

 


How Virginia Tech equipped me for the 'real world'...

Quite literally... by sending me out into it! I had the privilege of joining a life-changing study abroad program led by Professor Brinberg and Tedesco in Lugano, Switzerland (shout out to Lugano c/o 2K5)! Those months, those relationships seeded my interest in digital marketing, world travel, and would later go on to connect me to an incredible non-profit organization, Cardiostart International, to put my video documentary and marketing skills to work, shadowing a mission to Peru. An opportunity that I was primed for because The School of Communications opened door after door (thank you Professor Lazenby and Professor Aguilar)... pushing me to go out and tell real stories impacting the Blacksburg community. By the time graduation arrived, I had already been working in the "real world" for quite some time. Grateful.

Best part of being a Virginia Tech alum...
The people! Not to mention... the moment you break into a "Let's Go! Hokies!" chant... when you spot a fellow Hokie at a store, restaurant, church, etc. The energy is unmatched!

Best advice I've gotten....
Stay grounded. Stay you.

A key habit, practice, or skill, that's important for success in my industry...
Staying grounded in the "why."

If I had a superpower, it would be...
Without question... flying! That would make it much easier to see the world.

A cause I'm most passionate about...
Diversity and representation in the media.

Words of encouragement to a current Virginia Tech student...
Be bold. Dream BIG. Look to your network. We got you!

This excites me the most about the future of my industry...
The legacy we are leaving for future generations: A future that everyone can see themselves in. A future that works for all.

Biggest misconception about my job or industry...
Everyone "can do" communications :) That said, I always welcome partners!

The last time I ventured out of my comfort zone...
A "leap of faith" move from New York to North Carolina to prioritize family over career. In hindsight: It was the best decision for both!

Last book I read...
Kindred by Octavia Butler ... and I hear there's a TV series coming!

My favorite quote...
"Plot Twist!" When things don't go according to plan, just yell these two words and move on.


Media Contact:
Lindsey Haugh (540) 231-6959
lhaugh@vt.edu