Hi, SODA supporters! 👋 I’m Nicole, SODA’s new Program Manager. I’m from a western suburb of Chicago called Elmhurst, but I currently live in St. Louis. I moved to St. Louis in 2015 to attend Washington University, which is where I first got involved with SODA.
Volunteering with SODA
During my first few weeks at Wash U, the SODA chapter was hosting a tour of Mid-America Transplant, St. Louis’s Organ Procurement Organization, for first-year students. During the tour, I talked with Sara Miller, SODA’s President and Founder; learned about her connection to organ donation; and realized the critical need for organ donation and its power to give so many families hope and a way to cope with the loss of their loved ones. I served as the Marketing Chair then President of SODA at Wash U, and have been an organ donation advocate since then.
SODA at Wash U was the first ever SODA chapter! Learn more about our history here.
I began volunteering with SODA again in June 2020 as the Director of Development . At the time, I was beginning my career in fundraising at a St. Louis nonprofit called Girls in the Know, and after experiencing organ and tissue donation first-hand when my significant other lost his father, I wanted to share all I was learning about nonprofit development with SODA. As Director of Development, I exceeded our fundraising goals during SODA’s first year as an official nonprofit organization, established SODA’s first annual fundraising plan to cultivate relationships with our donors, created our first annual Impact Report, and began plans to support organ and tissue donation advocacy at Historically Black Colleges and Universities alongside our national team of volunteers.
I loved volunteering for SODA and had big ideas, but there was only so much time I could dedicate to SODA. When I heard SODA was looking for its first employee, I got excited about all we could accomplish! I am honored to be the first paid employee, especially after volunteering with the organization since I was a student, and I am grateful for the way SODA has allowed me to learn more about nonprofits, execute my ideas, and supported me over the past six years as I have grown into my career. It is so inspiring to see the organization’s growth during this time as well; when I was introduced to SODA, there was only one chapter, and now we are an official nonprofit organization with 31 chapters!
See a list of our 31 chapters here.
Getting Ready for Our Next Steps
As Program Manager, I want to amplify that growth by using SODA’s expertise and resources to activate and support every student organ donation advocate; leading our initiative to support organ and tissue donation advocacy at Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and strengthening our partnerships with OPOs, funders, and other community organizations. All of this hard work will be to support students and their life-saving efforts to reduce the organ shortage!
My new role would not be possible without our community who believes in and supports SODA’s mission. I would like to specifically thank Leslie Barcardi and the Contigo Foundation for their generous support as well as Sara for her vision, guidance, and partnership throughout my time with SODA. I look forward to the work ahead as we continue to inspire and support student-led organ and tissue donation education and registration efforts!
I welcome you to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, concerns, and ideas or just to say “Hello!”
Nicole in 2015 at the tour of Mid-America Transplant
Nicole in 2016 celebrating Donate Life Week at Wash U