1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?
My journey into healthcare philanthropy began after I participated in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s event in honor of my grandmother’s dementia diagnosis. My large, Hispanic family felt lost and alone as my grandmother’s memory rapidly slipped away. The Alzheimer’s Association gave me an outlet to volunteer, advocate, and raise funds for a cause that I truly feel connected with. Research shows that Latinos are disproportionately impacted by Alzheimer’s yet are less likely to access preventative health measures. My career in healthcare philanthropy provides me with an avenue to change this statistic while promoting healthcare equity.
2. Why did you choose to make healthcare philanthropy your career?
My personal experiences of coping with my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease and serving as a health coordinator with a rural AmeriCorps unit helped me develop a passion for helping the undeserved and unsupported. My career in healthcare philanthropy was kismet. My childhood best friend gave birth to a handsome little boy with a rare, life threatening congenital anomaly. Texas Children’s Hospital saved his life. I now have the privilege of working for Texas Children’s and thanking donors, many of whose generous gifts make lifesaving procedures possible every day.
3. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.
Like so many others, a pivotal point in my career journey has been COVID. Pre-pandemic, my role at Texas Children’s Hospital focused on sharing patient impact stories and finding heartfelt ways to thank donors. COVID created an immediate need for staff to help protect patients and employees via a screening process. I answered the call and transitioned from primarily working with major gifts to serving as a front-line screener. I now help protect immunocompromised and vulnerable children from exposure. I love wearing lady bug or unicorn face shield to help our pediatric patients feel safe as they enter the hospital.
4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?
My work career started when I was a 14-year-old assistant at the local library. I spent my summers shelving books and helping patrons navigate our massive, pre-digital card catalog. I enjoyed helping children discover the magical worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia. The library taught me the importance of access. The internet was a rare commodity in rural Texas in the early 2000s, and we had the fastest connection in town. In the gap between resources and needs, my rural library facilitated mobility and information access. This access allowed me to apply for scholarships and ultimately become a first-generation college graduate.
5. What are your future aspirations?
I am excited to continue my career at Texas Children’s Hospital and aspire to serve as a director in our Office of Philanthropy. My colleagues are innovative professionals who see the value in a simple thank you, and I am proud to be a part of one of the best pediatric hospitals in the world.
Find Nicole on LinkedIn.