Nicki Maher '16

Senior Vice President
Alex and ani | Charity by Design

Award Profile

Courageous Thinking and Action
In early 2011, ALEX AND ANI was a small company on the brink of exploding into a nationally recognized brand. Th is was also the year that CHARITY BY DESIGN®, a movement and change driver within ALEX AND ANI, was born. Th e dream was to be able to provide individuals with the strength, empowerment, and a way to take action by creating unique pieces of jewelry that had an impactful meaning and purpose. Nicki Maher, Senior Vice President of CHARITY BY DESIGN, was hand-picked by Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief
Creative Officer to spearhead this division, driving the missions of the now 45+ non-profit partners into the forefront of society through established, meaningful relationships that motivate customers to take action. Maher, now overseeing a team of 12 change-makers, works closely with Rafaelian to bring her vision of philanthropy to light each day by working to amplify and strengthen the positive force behind each charity.

Vision and Innovation
“She believed she could so she did” is a phrase that speaks to the core of who Nicki Maher is. With the determination to make Carolyn’s dream a reality, she hit the ground running and began within the roots of Rhode Island. Hasbro Children’s Hospital was the first partnership formed under her direction as from the start, Maher’s mindset was to form each partnership organically, beginning in Rhode Island. These partnerships that began developing through existing relationships, helped expand CHARITY BY DESIGN within Rhode Island, and then nationally, strengthening through connections and fueling the passion that makes each
relationship so special. In 2011, donations back to charity barely surpassed the $1 million mark. Each year aft er that, the mission grew and began to resonate with the ALEX AND ANI fan base, gaining speed and touching hearts everywhere. In five short years, CHARITY BY DESIGN is reaching new heights and milestones with its 45+ non-profit partners and more than $30 million donated to charities.

Inspiring Leadership
From her time as head coach of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Field Hockey team to her experiences leading a team of young professionals at ALEX AND ANI, coaching has always been a part of Maher’s life. She believes in mentoring and finding the talents in others to elevate them to reach their full potential. As a member of Board of Directors for the American Heart Association, Southern New England, Hasbro Children’s Advisory Council, and Women and Infants Foundation, Maher leads the way in encouraging others to become involved in community activities that speak to their talents. With a positive attitude and a talent for team building, Maher motivates others to dream big.

Community Mindedness
An important component of CHARITY BY DESIGN is the employee engagement program, Team (+) Impact. With the support of Maher, this program has grown from a mission to transform the local community through volunteerism into a global initiative now supervised by one full-time employee dedicated to increasing hours given back through community initiatives. ALEX AND ANI makes it a priority to allow their employees to volunteer during work hours by incorporating the Give Back Time Off (GBTO) Program. Th is new program that launched in Spring 2015 provides 8 hours each quarter for each employee to volunteer during the work day. Since this was implemented, employees have amassed over 3,500 volunteer business hours to
dozens of organizations nationwide in less than a year. Th is “hands-on” approach to create change allows employees to experience the missions of partner organizations as well as charities in their own communities, resulting in empowerment for employees to become involved in making a difference. Maher has always made it a priority to work from the top down, ensuring executive leadership and their teams are carrying out the mission of CHARITY BY DESIGN.

JA Mission Moment
I recently had the pleasure of hosting a JA Job Shadow experience in which a group of high school juniors came in to hear about the ALEX AND ANI brand mission and corporate structure. In leading this visit, I was encouraged by the students’ abilities to openly engage with our ALEX AND ANI team on topics such as goal setting, interview prep, and networking. I was extremely impressed by their desire to dig in, ask questions and engage in open conversation throughout the entire activity. Many of these students came in, very certain about the goals for their future and are already putting an action plan together on how to accomplish these goals. Whether it be to focus on networking, developing a vision board, or expressing their plan with others, the students brought strong aspirations within a broad range of career focus -- from doctor to professional baseball player to automotive mechanic. Junior Achievement
has personally motivated me to think harder about how my current role can be a guide for young men and women who want to develop a career in humanitarianism. I walked away feeling positive perspective toward our next generation and I look forward to continuing to support JA.