Getting to Know the CNF Team – Jessica Nickrand
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Getting to Know the CNF Team – Jessica Nickrand

Whenever we bring on new staff at CNF, we like to introduce them to our community. Meet Jessica Nickrand, who joined the CNF team in March 2019.

What’s your role at CNF?
I am a Manager of Programs here at CNF, and my focus will be primarily on transitions of care.

How do you spend your time when you’re not at work?
Right now, I spend my time the way most of us are spending it, at home! My husband and I just bought a condo, and so I’m grateful that most of my time these days are spent on fun home improvement activities. Otherwise, I like to read, binge my “comfort” shows like The Office and Columbo, listen to podcasts about movies, and FaceTime with all the kiddos in my life.  When we can venture out again, my favorite thing to do is swim; I love marathon open water races in the summertime.

What is your power color and why?
Hot pink. It’s not my favorite color, but I feel powerful when I’m wearing it or accessorize with it.  I’ve had to unlearn that femininity isn’t a weakness, and now just lean into it by surrounding myself with hot pink everything when I need a boost. If we meet and I’m wearing my hot pink blazer, you know I mean business.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation. I moved from Michigan over a decade ago and my family is still there. I would love to be able to pop in and out on a moment’s notice.

What are you passionate about?
Healthcare inequalities. My mom was a nurse in a working-class Detroit suburb, and her work stories made me learn early in my life that medical care is not the same for everyone. I chose paths in college and graduate school that helped me both build a case for why inequality hurts us all, and find solutions to these problems. I’ve brought that lens to every role I’ve had so far, and I hope to continue that work here at CNF.

Which CNF Value do you identify with the most? (Integrity, Stewardship, Collaboration, Professionalism)
Stewardship, one million percent. I love being at an organization that understands that youths and young adults with neurologic conditions and their families are the experts in knowing what support they need, and wants to be nimble and responsive to addressing those needs. I find fulfillment in using my skills and experiences to amplify and empower folks, and I certainly get to do that here at CNF.

How did life lead you to working with CNF?
Most recently, I worked at a CNF partner, the American Academy of Neurology. I really loved working in the neurology community, and while I made incredible connections with adult neurologists and believe its important to continue to support providers, I knew I wanted to work in patient and caregiver support, education, and advocacy. Through that role, I learned about CNF, and feel very lucky to be in a role still in neurology but is more patient and caregiver-focused.

What do you love about CNF’s story?
I love that CNF is the only patient advocacy organization founded and governed by physicians—that gives us access to the medical community unlike any other patient advocacy organization in the country. To effect real change, the patient advocacy community and the provider community must collaborate to find solutions that work within our current healthcare system. That difference makes me believe that what we do here can really make a difference for families experiencing neurologic conditions.

You have 30 seconds to pitch Oprah about CNF at a conference – what do you say?
Oprah, you have always been a leader for women and their families—imagine the impact you would have if you turned your influence to the Child Neurology Foundation. 1 in 6 children will receive a neurologic diagnosis—and that’s only the children who have the means to access a neurologist; we know that the number is in reality, much higher. CNF works as a collaborative center of education and support for children and families experiencing neurologic conditions, and so your support of CNF is exponentially utilized as we lift up our organizational partners and other leaders to support families throughout every step of the neurologic journey—from the diagnostic odyssey through treatment and disease management. With your support, we will be closer to living in a world where every child affected by neurologic disorders reaches their full potential, empowering young people to shatter every goal they seek to achieve.

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