“I don’t have to be at RISE—I want to be at RISE. There’s no replacement for face-to-face participation in a community,” says member Nicci Roach, who recently co-founded a brand-new 501(c)3 nonprofit called Mosaic Ceiling, working to empower and equip women of color to fully realize their professional goals and dreams. As an active member who frequently attends RISE events and uses the facility to meet with collaborators, Nicci is emphatic about the importance of mentorship and working around like-minded women.
Nicci has worked in higher education at St. Louis’ Webster University for over 15 years, most recently as the university’s inaugural Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and Senior Director for Community Engagement. Her long list of additional credits includes entrepreneur, author, educator, podcast host, and more. With RISE’s focus on Mindset and Attitude for the month of November, Nicci is a natural fit for us to highlight, as her work challenges pre-existing mindsets around diversity and inclusion.
Nicci started working at Webster in an entry-level role without a bachelor’s degree, but over the years she worked her way up and amassed a number of prestigious job titles. Her latest role had her working alongside the university’s president and provost, and she went on to attain not only her bachelor’s degree, but two master’s degrees. She’s also currently working on her doctorate. But as Nicci moved up the ranks, she realized there were very few, if any, women and women of color in C-suite offices. It was there that the explicit need for an initiative like Mosaic Ceiling, or a “why,” as she calls it, led to its formation.
“I saw very few people around me whose experience resembled mine in terms of gender, age, and race. And if my parents hadn’t instilled an important level of professionalism within me early-on, it’s possible I could have messed it up,” she says. Another key she attributes to her success, which she encourages everyone to have, is a lineup of mentors from different walks of life for personal and professional council, a strategy that can’t help but bring about true diversity of thought.
Nicci has structured Mosaic Ceiling to focus on six key project areas, further developed through workshops she conducts at a variety of companies, which include: education attainment, entrepreneurship, health and wellness, leadership development, political participation, and wage gap/economic security. Current rates of advancement for women and women of color in workplace leadership roles remain disheartening, which further fuel Nicci’s devotion to this work. She just recently made a presentation at RISE focused on inclusive language and dialogues as part of our November Mindset and Attitude member programming.
Nicci’s presentations and workshops also give employees and employers the opportunity to fully know one another, as Nicci notes we are now in a time where the workforce is made up of individuals from five different generations— which has never happened before. “Each generation has completely different ideas about what it means to be loyal, work hard, and have an impact on the world. While older generations might not think millennials understand the importance of loyalty, for example, it’s really just that they have a different understanding of what loyalty actually means and how it looks in practice.”
Nicci’s story and work exemplify the dedication and community RISE works to foster for its members. Whether in St. Louis or Denver, the RISE Team agrees with Nicci about the power of community, face-to-face connection, and working alongside like-minded women. Are you interested in joining this type of community? Connect with us HERE!