Written by Sara Miller, President and Founder
You know that feeling when you meet someone at the perfect time? Like when you are trying to find a dog walker and your neighbor tells you about their terrific experience with a neighborhood animal-lover who walks their dog. Or when you are looking for a painter for your house and your friends, just by coincidence, talk about the bedroom remodel they just had done and how much they love the pops of color on their walls.
That’s how I felt when Nicole sent me a message in the summer of 2020 letting me know she was interested in returning to SODA as a volunteer (as students, we were part of the first ever SODA chapter at Washington University in St. Louis together!). She was the perfect addition to our team. She brought fundraising knowledge, strong relationship building skills, and perhaps most importantly, a passion for the cause that made her a terrific fit. Thanks to the generosity of Leslie Bacardi and the Contigo Foundation, we were able to bring her onto the team full time in Spring 2021, just over a year ago.
Left: A picture of Nicole and me celebrating organ donation at Wash U in 2018, Right: A picture of Nicole and me at a 5k to support brain cancer research and organ donation advocacy in 2021.
Having Nicole on our team has transformed the work we do at SODA, and I am so grateful for her leadership. We’ve been on a roll ever since bringing her on board. If you’ve been following us, checked out our blog, read our emails, or seen our social media posts since she joined the team, you know we consider this past year to be SODA’s best year yet, and we’re not exaggerating!
Here are a few highlights:
April 2021: We welcomed Nicole as our Program Manager. Check out the blog announcing her new role here.
May 2021: The End of Semester Survey results were in: our chapters educated 5,165 people about organ and tissue donation and registered 352 people as organ donors throughout the 2020-2021 school year! This was our most impactful school year to date.
June 2021: We received our first grant with Nicole as SODA’s Program Manager from the Harri Hoffmann Family Foundation to launch our event fund! The Harri Hoffmann Family Foundation has now supported SODA for two years in a row, and we are grateful for them.
July 2021: We awarded our first-ever scholarships to six deserving students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who have an interest in organ and tissue donation advocacy thanks to Hearts for Emma, Hearts for Russ, the Laura Miller Memorial Fund, Richie’s Spirit Foundation, and the YNOTT? Foundation. Learn about the impressive winners here.
August 2021: Our new branding launched. Now, SODA reps blue and green just like the rest of the organ donation community, and this wouldn’t have been possible without Nicole’s keen eye for design (have you seen our awesome Instagram graphics here?)!
September 2021: The event fund went live thanks to the Harri Hoffmann Family Foundation! We now support students who are looking for a lower-commitment option to save lives by hosting one-off events.
October 2021: Thanks to Nicole’s nomination, I was recognized as an 2021 #AerieREAL Changemaker, which led to a $20,000 grant to support our life-saving work.
November 2021: We celebrated 2021 and expressed gratitude for our supporters in our Impact Report. If you haven’t checked it out, make sure to do so and get inspired by the impact our students are having across the country!
December 2021: Our community had its most generous holiday season! So many of you gave a life-saving gift to SODA as part of our year-end fundraiser, hosted in partnership with Second Chance Fundraising.
January 2022: The new year started off with over 40 chapters, a milestone for SODA.
February 2022: Black History Month was in full swing, and we celebrated with African American organ donation TikTok videos.
March 2022: Our full-time team grew to two. We welcomed Ryan as our Program Coordinator! Read his blog post here.
April 2022: We saved 40 lives together as part of our 10 Days, 38 Lives fundraising campaign in partnership with Hearts for Russ. Thank you to our generous community for making our work possible.
This growth has occurred in large part thanks to Nicole’s leadership as well as amazing supporters like you. She has demonstrated a commitment to supporting and strengthening our students’ life-saving organ donation advocacy, and I’m excited to recognize her passion for SODA and our mission with a new title that reflects the growth she’s overseen, Program Director. Join me in congratulating Nicole on this well-deserved promotion!
Send Nicole a message to celebrate SODA’s accomplishments and her leadership.
There’s a lot in store for the coming months as Nicole steps into the Program Director role. From student awards to summer programming to new and engaging student resources, you’ll want to be in the know on what’s new at SODA. If you’re not already, make sure to follow us on Instagram.