Interview with ASAS NJ’s new Executive Director

ASAS New Jersey Updates (7)
We hope you’re enjoying the beginning of the fall!  As you might have read in our last newsletter, ASAS has undergone a strategic restructure to provide more support to local chapters.  This past summer, Dax-Devlon Ross took on the role as the Northeast Regional Executive Director, leading the New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia-Camden chapters. His transition created an opportunity to bring on new leadership in New York and New Jersey. 
We’re very excited to introduce you to After-School All-Stars New Jersey’s new Executive Director, Nicole Harris. With over twenty years of experience in the fundraising field, Nicole Harris joins ASAS ready to develop, expand, and fund quality after-school programs that serve students throughout New Jersey. Nicole joins ASAS after serving as the Community Engagement Manager at Uncommon Schools – North Star Academy where she led the advocacy and fundraising efforts to grow the network from seven to fourteen schools.  This week, we interviewed Nicole to learn more about her experiences and vision for ASAS New Jersey.  
 
This week, we interviewed Nicole to learn more about her experiences and vision for ASAS New Jersey.  
Choose a few words to describe yourself, what would that be:  
I’d say unflappable, resourceful, and generous.  
 
TPicture1hanks! Tell us a little bit about yourself?  
I was born and raised in the Bronx and spent a lot of time with my family in Queens and in Brooklyn…a real “City Girl.”  When I was very young my mother worked as a “Provided Mother,” meaning she took care of children throughout the day. As a result, our house was the house that all of our friends could visit to get a meal or just hang out. Once I started elementary school my mother began working in the healthcare industry, and I learned quickly how hard she had to work to take care of my sister and me. I’ve always had a deep appreciation and admiration for my mother – in my eyes she was Superwoman.
I attended Catholic school up to 12th grade, and there was no support for college enrollment. The school I attended prepared me to obtain employment as an administrative professional. I wanted to attend college, but I didn’t know anyone who went to college, nor did I know the first thing about applying to colleges. Luckily I landed a really great job at Harlem Hospital where my career blossomed. College stayed on my mind and eventually I ended up attending the Newark School of Theology where I studied ministry. I am currently enrolled at Rutgers pursuing my MPA in Non-Profit Administration.  
What drew you to the Executive Director position at ASAS?  
First, After-School All-Stars is an amazing organization. I truly love the commitment they have to children and the investments they make supporting children. My daughter attended ASAS’ STEM CampUs two summers ago, and from just one week of being there she came home more interested in STEM careers for women and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She also spearheaded the family’s transition to organic eating. In just one week ASAS made a positive impact in our lives. Can you imagine the positive impact ASAS is making in the lives of all of the children they serve? The opportunity to serve in an organization that is committed to youth development is what drew me to ASAS, and I’m so thankful that I made this decision.
 
What were you doing in after-school when you were in middle school?  
I attended after-school programs throughout elementary school where I learned to cook, knit, crochet, dance, act, and learn sign language. Unfortunately in the Bronx there were no after school programs for children past the sixth grade, so that is where extracurricular activities stopped for me, until I got to high school.
 
If you could give your 11 year-old self advice, what would it be?  
Three things..  
1.     God created a wonderful thing when he made you. Don’t ever forget that.  
2.     Don’t sell yourself short. You were made for success.
3.     Pursue your dreams with passion; Use your talents with purpose.
 
What are you looking forward to the most this year?  
Professionally, I’m excited to get back to fundraising! I’m looking forward to putting together a fundraising plan so that not only can we expand on the quality of the programs we offer at ASAS NJ, but we can also expand to more schools and other districts in New Jersey.  
 
Personally, I’m celebrating my 10-year anniversary with my husband.  
 
If you’d like to become more involved with After-School All-Stars NJ or would just like to say hi to Nicole, you can reach her at nicole.harris@afterschoolallstars.org