Innovation Fellow

Marc Freedman Portrait

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NICOLE KENNEY

Founder, Hey Auntie!
Connecting Black women across ages and life stages to learn the “rules,” gain the tools and deepen their networks to thrive at home, work and everywhere in between

Nicole Kenney, M.P.P. is a social entrepreneur with 15 years of experience working on research, policy, programs and communications with a focus on racial, gender and economic equity. She is the founder and CEO of It Starts with Me, LLC, a social impact consultancy that supports companies in innovating and optimizing their strategy, communications, and programs to advance racial, gender and economic equity in their business and in the communities they serve.

Nicole is also the founder of Hey Auntie! a digital platform and community that connects Black women across ages and life stages to learn the rules, gain the tools and deepen the networks to thrive at home, work and everywhere in between. Nicole and Hey Auntie! won the grand prize in the 2021 #WellCityChallenge, a seven-month-long social-impact competition in Philadelphia.

Before becoming a social entrepreneur, Nicole served as the senior communications associate at the National NAACP where she helped lead, shape and implement the organization’s strategic internal and external communication campaigns locally, nationally and internationally.

A proud West Philadelphia native, Nicole holds a Master of Arts in public policy from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in government and psychology (double-major) from Smith College, where she also received the Barbara Jordan Public Policy Award. Deeply committed to her community, Nicole currently serves as president of the Smith College Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter, is an active member of her church, The Church of Christian Compassion, and is a strength-training fitness instructor to a dynamic group of multigenerational women at her childhood YMCA. She is also a filmmaker and a proud auntie to her nephew Edward Gerald McCrae (aka EJ!).