'Most people in Rochester are only separated by six degrees'
Get to Know… Nicole Andrews
Are you originally from the Rochester area? If not, what led you here?
I am originally from Loma Linda, Calif. A few hours south of LA. My family relocated to Rochester in the 90s through a job transfer connected to IBM.
What do you like best about Rochester?
As a person who values connectedness, I like the fact that most people in Rochester are only separated by six degrees. We all know someone who knows someone or is related to someone. We have a shared history and shared experiences as we watch the city grow and expand.
What changes do you think still need to be made?
Rochester can be difficult to navigate for new residents and businesses. It also has a long way to go to understand race, ethnicity, developing inclusive practices and creating trauma informed and culturally responsive social services.
What do you do for a living? Why did you choose that for your career?
I am a small business owner of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consulting firm, HomeGrown LLC. After working for over a decade in education, spending time in the mental health field, and directly serving children and families that have experienced trauma through homelessness, I kept going back to the missing components to our approach, DEI. We were not creating inclusive spaces because we didn't recognize and honor cultural differences and needs. We were not equitable in our approach, which led to undesirable outcomes. We lacked diversity because we were not thoughtful about what it took to retain people with different cultural backgrounds and different cognitive and physical abilities. I wanted to bring about awareness and systemic change. I also wanted the work to be developed by people outside of those who are currently sitting at the table with power and influence and outcomes of the work to be focused on those outside of the leading identity in Rochester (white, cisgendered, heterosexual, male). HomeGrown LLC centers the experiences, perspectives, and resources of people with historically marginalized identities.
What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to pursue the same career?
Start with a strong perspective, and be willing to adjust for new learning. I would then say to contact organizations that can help you develop a business plan, funding sources, and connections to people looking to contract your services. This is hard work. It is heart centered work that requires you to apply logic, academic principles, and your own lived experience to people's values and beliefs. It will require you to be intentional about caring for yourself and collaborating with others who have expertise and experience across fields.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment and what has been your greatest challenge you've had to overcome?
Professionally, my greatest accomplishment is in the receipt of feedback from those that have been trained by HomeGrown stating that the information they received changed their perspective on identity and how they interact with people across cultures. I would also say that whenever I have a family that I have had the pleasure of working with come up to me and say that their child remembers me as one of their favorite teachers, it really warms my heart. Personally my greatest accomplishment is knowing that I have raised an amazing young man, who is kind and thoughtful of others. The greatest challenges I have faced have been around pivoting delivery methods, scaling my dreams with what can be accomplished in the here and now, and fighting against bias and prejudices while showing compassion.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Most people do not know that I am very shy. I am passionate about what I do and my advocacy work, and I fight against my natural instinct to stay in the background, in order to make sure that I am fighting for and in service of others.
How can people find HomeGrown LLC?
Here is how: www.homegrownllc.org ; email: email@example.com ; call: 612-552-1178. Follow on Facebook and Instagram HomeGrown LLC.
Do you have any ucoming events?
We have a Community Learning Cohort! April 11-May 16. These are six virtual 1.5 hour weekly sessions that build understanding and develop skills in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. More information found on the website and social media.
Get to know ... is a feature in Rochester In Color, a special section within the Post Bulletin's website that profiles people of color in our community. Find it at www.postbulletin.com/rochester-in-color . If you know of someone who should be featured, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org