Meet Nicole Pulliam, Director of the Social Justice Academy and Associate Professor at Monmouth University. Nicole is also a new member of the Grunin Foundation Board of Trustees (stay tuned for a special board member highlight series). Learn more about Nicole, how she got into the world of nonprofits and how she spends her free time at the Central Jersey Shore!

How do you navigate the 6 “C”s of Nonprofit Sea Change? (Capacity, Curiosity, Conversation, Collaboration, Creativity, and Compassion)

The 6 “C”s of Nonprofit Sea Change exemplify how we should live and lead, truly. In my work as an educator, scholar, and leader within and beyond educational spaces, compassion and collaboration are at the forefront of my work. The beauty and reward of nonprofit work involve active and intentional collaboration with communities. To do that well, we must immerse ourselves by way of conversation and collaboration with those who live and work in those communities. In all I do, I challenge myself to remain curious about the ways I can impact change. Being a change agent is an ongoing process. The bonus is I get to use my creativity daily, whether that is by program planning, curriculum development, or teaching strategies. As I move through my career, I become even more moved to make an impact on communities and I consider it a gift to be able to do so in many ways.

When did you realize you wanted to work in the nonprofit world? Tell us about this journey.

As an educator, the impact of my work is not often immediately felt. Working in higher education has allowed me to teach, mentor, research, and serve across the university, but over the past few years, I discovered there was a missing component. As the newly named Inaugural Director of the Social Justice Academy at Monmouth University, I now have the opportunity to expand my work beyond the walls of academia to engage K-12 educators in critical social justice work. As part of this, I get to collaborate with community partners and other nonprofits to strengthen the academy’s focus. Additionally, I am looking forward to serving on the board for the Grunin Foundation beginning January 2022. I have a feeling there is a lot more to come for me in the nonprofit world. While I am not sure what that might be just yet, I am excited about it!

What’s your favorite fun activity to do at the Central Jersey Shore?

My family and I recently relocated to the Central Jersey Shore from Northern New Jersey this past summer and I must say, we are enjoying it very much! Though we recently moved to this region, I have worked in Monmouth County for the past 7.5 years. We are still exploring our neighborhood and this region, but we have enjoyed the proximity to the beach and a much slower pace. With two young children, finding a family-friendly town was of high importance for myself and my husband. We chose well and are excited to learn even more about the Central Jersey Shore as we continue to settle in.

How do you practice self-care/stress relief?

When I am not entertaining my active toddler-aged son and inquisitive school-aged daughter, I spend my time reading and listening to podcasts. I love the Ocean County library’s Toms River branch and I take advantage of all the resources they have to offer. I also keep physically active by indoor cycling on my Peloton bike while listening to my favorite music. Music really does soothe my soul. 

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” - Shirley Chisholm