Ten Questions with Tonya Nichols

IMG_7297 croppedTell me a little about yourself – your background and your education. 

Indiana has been my home all of my life.  I grew up in Anderson and graduated from Madison Heights High School.  I’m so proud to say that I am the mother of three daughters.  They all graduated from Anderson High School (which I don’t hold that against them).  Each daughter went onward and upward to earn advanced degrees.  My biggest joy is to be GiGi to three grandsons.  On Mother’s Day, 2013 I achieved one of my greatest accomplishments:  I graduated with my MPA from IUPUI.  It has been an amazing journey for me.  I thank God each day for his strength to continue my journey and thank him for my professional relationship with Aspire Indiana.

How long have you worked for Aspire?

In the month of February I celebrated 24 wonderful years with the Aspire Indiana family.

What positions have you held with Aspire?

I’ve held several positions with Aspire Indiana (formally known as The Center for Mental Health).  My first position was a part-time medical records transcriptionist.  Typing all the therapist’s and doctor’s notes/reports was very eye-opening as to some of the behavioral health issues individuals face every day.  I quickly moved into full-time status as the Access support staff/front desk receptionist at our Brown Street location.  My next position was the support staff for our Communications/Education department (later known as Marketing/Communications).  After totally falling in love with the public relations facet of the mental health field, I was promoted to the single point of contact for our Marketing and Communications Department, which I’ve held for the past 19 plus years.

Describe your current position, including your responsibilities?

I love my current position, Marketing/Development Associate.  I have the opportunity to network with individuals internally as well as externally on a daily basis through social media, email, telephone, and face-to-face conversations.  Each day, one of my primary goals is to inform individuals of the awesome contributions and positive impact Aspire is making in our communities in central Indiana.  Another goal is to build donor relationships.  This is cultivating gifts from new and existing donors through personal contact and small events.  Each time I’m out and about, whether it’s visiting one of our locations or in the community; I make sure that individuals are aware of the marvelous organization I represent.

What does a typical day as a Marketing/Development Associate look like?

Fortunately, there is no typical day at Aspire.  On a daily basis, I spend several hours working on the computer.  I’m interacting with social media, conducting research for donor prospecting or reviewing other behavioral health care organizations and conducting online benchmarking.  One of my most recent assignments was creating and maintaining an effective resource/fund development plan.  At least three times each week I perform the dual role of representing Aspire and gathering innovative methods of obtaining resources for fund development today and for years to come.

What in your educational background and work experience prepared you for your current position?

I gained valuable knowledge from my undergrad in Organizational Leadership and my Master’s in Public Affairs in nonprofit.  The combination of the cohort and student interactions, along with the specific processes and techniques I learned prepared me for the organizational and environmental changes that I manage in my current position as Marketing/Development Associate.  The diverse clients, staff and supporters benefit from intricate skills gained from my degrees.  Even though my position is very enjoyable, critical thinking, statistics, economic and resource development skills are needed to accurately develop and implement plans that motivate and inspire concerned individuals to contribute and participate in Aspire’s life changing services.

If you weren’t working in this field, what would you be doing?

It’s a little hard to imagine not being in the nonprofit field.  Interacting and helping others is my passion.  Thinking outside of the nonprofit field, one way to fulfill my passion would be to throw great parties and events.  So, most likely I would have started an exclusive event planning business; coordinating and planning large community events.

What is it that drew you to the field of mental health?

Actually, for me, it has been more of a growth and learning process.  When I took my first position with Aspire, I was just looking for a job.  Over the years, I developed a passion for helping others blossom.  Interacting with the professional staff at Aspire, observing the struggles individuals and their families endured, and then witnessing the change that Aspire makes in the community, I couldn’t help but embrace all the aspects of the mental health field.

What impact do you feel your work has had on Aspire and its clients?

Working in the community as an ambassador for Aspire makes an impact for the longevity of the organization.  Networking through social media raises awareness and inspires both the staff and supporters to give of their time, talents, and treasures.

What things do you do to help you cope with the demands of your job?

I love watching drama/suspense movies, being outside gazing upon God’s beauty and being with my family and friends, especially with my three grandsons.  I think that it is very important to be strong mentally and physically so I spend time reading motivational and inspirational materials.  I also workout at least four times a week!

Tonya Nichols is the Marketing/Development Associate at Aspire Indiana. While the beliefs and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Ms. Nichols, you can learn more about Aspire Indiana at https://www.facebook.com/AspireIndiana.  You can also follow Ms. Nichols on Twitter @TonyaNichols03.

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