By Carley Crain
Springfield College recently hired Nicole D. Coakley as the new Assistant Director for the Center of Service and Leadership. The hiring of Coakley adds another woman of color to the Springfield College faculty, helping to increase diversity amongst staff members.
The Center of Service and Leadership is run by Charlene Elvers, and is a resource for the Springfield College community to engage in service through various programs and activities.
Some of their most popular programs include: alternative spring break, Homework Heroes, Middle School Mentors, and Brookings Learning and Support Team (BLAST). Coakley will serve as the Assistant Director, working hand-in-hand with Elvers.
A small search committee made up of Student Affairs staff, Elvers, numerous faculty members from different departments, and a student helped hire Coakley. The position was shared nationwide through national job websites, as well as through community contacts in the Springfield area. Coakley was nominated for the position from a Springfield community member.
“She is really a person that will bring the community to campus, and bring our campus to the community,” said Elvers. “That was exactly what I was hoping for.”
Coakley was born in Springfield and raised in South Carolina, but ultimately moved back to the city of Springfield to raise her own family of seven.
She explained that she loves having a big family and raising her kids and nephews is the greatest job she has. “There is never really a dull moment in my house, but my kids really keep me going and I consider myself their role model so a lot of what I do is for them,” Coakley said.
Coakley’s education and past job experiences are extensive and bring a unique perspective to her new position at Springfield College.
She holds an Associate’s Degree in Law Enforcement, a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services, a Masters of Education in Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Trauma Studies and Substance Abuse, and is in the process of earning her Doctor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Organizational Leadership at Northcentral University.
She started to work with children early in her career as a teacher’s assistant at Morris Professional Child Care and moved up the ranks to program director, where she gained valuable experience in leadership, organizational skills and working with youth.
She also is a part of numerous organizations in Springfield, such as serving on the board of directors for Easterseals Massachusetts, being a member of the Chicopee Women of the Moose, a clerk for Morris Open Pantry, and much more.
She has and continues to embrace the Humanics philosophy through her service in the Springfield area. Her passion for helping others and engaging in her community has truly made Springfield a better place.
Throughout her years of service, Coakley has helped educate and support the youth of Springfield through numerous initiatives and programs. Most recently, she helped educate the community about gun violence, as well as organizing Unity in the Community where she brought together police officers and inner-city youth to form healthy relationships with law enforcement.
“The kids in our community feel like they can’t afford Springfield College and I have been trying to understand why they have that mindset and gear them in a different direction and have them see things differently, as well as them not giving up on themselves,” said Coakley.
As the Assistant Director for the Center of Leadership and Service, Coakley will help create flexible community service opportunities for students, plan specific service activities for student-athletes, supervise the Partners and BLAST programs, advise the Humanics In Action club, advise the Alternative Spring Break club, and she will help develop a yearly Humanics In Action Program.
“The Springfield community and Springfield College, I really see no collaboration between them and Springfield College has been there for so long and in this position I really want to bridge that gap that is in between our community and Springfield College because Springfield College does have a lot to offer that the community can benefit from. So, trying to connect the dots is really my passion,” she added.
Coakley’s love for the city of Springfield, compounded by her commitment to improving the relationship between the college and the city will unify, encourage, and uplift the entire community, truly making Springfield a better place, just the way she has throughout her entire career.
Photo: Springfield College