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One in a Million: Nicki Maher

By Suzanna McCloskey on 06/25/2015 | Featured Columns & Series

This year, Girls on the Run will serve its one-millionth girl! We’re honoring this milestone by celebrating what makes each of us one in a million and by showcasing some one-in-a-million women who have made exceptional contributions to empowering girls and women.

ALEX AND ANI strives to create meaningful, eco-conscious jewelry and accessories that empower those who wear it. As Vice President of the Charity by Design division of ALEX AND ANI, Nicki Maher works to strengthen charitable organizations' missions by innovative, creative partnerships with ALEX AND ANI. Nicki's efforts have enabled Charity by Design to donate more than $16.5 million to nonprofits nationwide.

Here’s what Nicki has to share about being one in a million.

Q: Girls on the Run envisions a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams! How did you start to realize your own limitless potential and pursue the path to where you are today?

Nicki: So much of what molded me and set my foundation for success were the people who believed in me from day one and coached me all the way to my current role. Having sports as a part of my life was a huge advantage for me when gaining the tools of leadership, teamwork and how to problem solve. My college field hockey coach at University of Connecticut, Nancy Stevens, was a strong mentor throughout my collegiate career and remains so today. She taught me not to make excuses for things or for other people, to set solid, measurable goals and that it’s ok to be pushed beyond what we believe are limits. I now echo that attitude in my team here at ALEX AND ANI. I have the confidence that I can empower my team to push to a level where they didn’t even know they could be.

If you don’t believe in yourself, then you can’t spread your value and help others see their own potential.

Q: Of the traits and achievements that help make you one-in-a-million, what stands out most to you?

Nicki: I have a confidence in life and a faith that everything happens for a reason. I always believe that I am put in the exact situation that I am meant to be in. That faith in life and in the people who surround me has enabled me to build such a positive outlook on life and the challenges/celebrations that come with it.  

Q: Girls on the Run believes that big things are possible when you keep moving forward. Can you share an example from your own life? 

Nicki: After graduate school, I interviewed for a position and a few days later received a call that I was not the final candidate. I took a day to digest it and said to myself, "I wonder why." ...The next day I was really hoping to find out more information to use the feedback for future opportunities. I called the director who had interviewed me and re-introduced myself and asked "do you mind if I ask you for some feedback from my interview?" He told me that they loved my energy, personality, work ethic, track record of success, etc. "However," he said, "you did not wear a full business suit and you had on open toe shoes." (I admit, I should have known better but it was the dead heat of August in Rhode Island, and I didn’t prepare my attire the way I should have).

I answered with, "I think you made a big mistake and I would like you to reconsider me should a new position open up in the near future." I apologized for not dressing perfectly and told him that I would be more than happy to go out and buy whatever business suit fit the position. I then continued with, "I have drive and self-motivation, and I think to overlook that based on the clothing that I chose for the interview is a mistake." From there, he said he appreciated my call, and not even a week later he called to say he thought some more about our conversation and decided to offer me a position within another New England sales territory. My point is, I believe in going for what you want in life, and the biggest mistakes I see people make are lack of confidence and lack of preparation. Believe that the conversation is worth having. 

Q: Which one of the core values of Girls on the Run resonates most with you and why?

Nicki: "Embracing our differences and finding strength in our connectedness" is a big one. If you don’t believe in yourself, then you can’t spread your value and help others see their own potential. I have the blessing to be surrounded by confident, empowering, and amazing women. They have taught me to be patient and to understand that not everyone thinks like me, and that it is exactly what is needed to help see the big picture.

I believe in going for what you want in life, and the biggest mistakes I see people make are lack of confidence and lack of preparation. Believe that the conversation is worth having. 

Q: What insight or advice would you offer a young girl today? What would you say now to your 8-year-old self?

Nicki:  Stay away from negative nellies as they will only try to bring you down. Instead, believe in the fairy tale and surround yourself with people who encourage you, admire you and laugh with you. If I were talking to my 8-year-old self I would say "be exactly who you are today because things turn out pretty darn good for you, girl."

This spring, Girls on the Run will serve our 1 millionth girl! To celebrate, we're sharing the stories of girls, volunteers and supporters who have been inspired to be joyful, healthy and confident. Join our virtual celebration today and learn other ways to get involved at girlsontherun.org.


Suzanna McCloskey


Suzanna is the Marketing Services Coordinator at Girls on the Run International, where she serves as the project manager for all marketing collateral, manages the weekly e-newsletter for Girls on the Run councils and works closely with the Partnerships and Programming Departments. She comes to Girls on the Run with a background in nonprofit communications and is thankful for the opportunity to help girls lead joyful, healthy and confident lives.

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