This interview was conducted by Katherine Sacco, former Assistant Director of Operations at the IIC. 

Here at the IIC, we’re excited for you to get to know us better through a new feature series of interviews with our Core Team. Meet Nicole Anderson our Assistant Director of Fellow Experience. From collaborating with top leaders in social entrepreneurship to work with our Fellows during training, to helping Fellows access the best resources to implement their projects, Nicole makes sure that IIC Fellows are well positioned to have a real impact. Not to mention, she never lets our office stock of coffee run low!  

Hi Nicole! Thanks for talking with me. To get us started, can you give a quick introduction—the basics?

I love to ride my bicycle. I have a master’s in rhetoric and, therefore, should be able to convince you of anything. I have lived in seven cities across four states and three countries.

I know you volunteered with the Peace Corps in Morocco. What moment encapsulates your experience as a Peace Corps volunteer?

I had completed three packed months learning Arabic and had just moved to my temporary homestay family’s house. We were sitting around watching TV and the news came on. There was a report about Afghanistan and it panned to a soldier walking into another soldier’s tent. One soldier said “Salam Walaykum” and the other responded “Wa-alaykum Salam.”  “Peace be upon you,” “and peace be upon you too.” I had watched the news so many times and felt scared and estranged from the news in the Middle East. But the simplicity of understanding what these two men said to each other made me open to understanding our shared humanity. I had said this same phrase hundreds of times as I met my new Moroccan colleagues and friends. 

This encapsulates my Peace Corps experience because it is an example of the millions of ways in which my worldview expanded and my experiences challenged me to find similarities and solutions instead of differences and roadblocks. You don’t get through two years in a developing country if all your experiences are mired in otherness and frustrations. These things are there but I had to find a way around them.

Tell us a little bit about what you do here at the IIC.

I am the Associate Director of Fellow Experience, which means I work directly with Fellows from before they apply all the way until they are alumni. It’s a wide range of responsibilities but I try to be helpful and encouraging as the Fellows face exciting and challenging situations. I’m working to create a structure that supports the great work the Fellows do and the impact they have. I support their growth personally and professionally. And I hope to develop a strategy for keeping our alumni a central part of our program. After all, our Fellows and alumni make up the IIC.

How do you hope to help the IIC grow?

I hope to use my experiences both in the private sector and in the Peace Corps to help IIC build processes that can effectively support the great work that the Fellows are doing. I remember fondly the Peace Corps staff that supported me and my fellow volunteers in Morocco and I can only hope to be as positive and supportive a force as they were. 

Okay, let’s end with a couple of fun questions. What is your favorite place in the world?

My dad’s house in Bailey, Colorado. He lives in a small town that is a bend in the road amidst the curves of the Rocky Mountains. It’s relaxing and always welcoming.

And your favorite thing to do on a Thursday night?

In the summer, take a cheese and wine picnic to an outdoor concert at Pritzker Pavilion. Or if I’m at my dad’s house in Colorado, head straight for a hike in the mountains when I get off work.