Member Profile: Nicole Bice

Nicole Bice is the ED of the Hovde Foundation, which focuses on vulnerable children and their families in Africa and Latin America, and locally in Wisconsin. A major initiative of the foundation is long-term partnerships with local organizations to provide “Hovde Homes” that holistically care for children in crisis situations. Nicole joined PCP about a year ago, and lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and miracle daughter, Kenna.

What brought you to philanthropy?

I previously worked for an international non-profit focused on financial inclusion, trying to provide contextually appropriate access to everyone who needs it. I did a little bit of everything. I wasn’t looking for a job, but a friend sent me information about this position at Hovde, which I dismissed. But another friend sent it me, and another, and then the first friend followed up about it. Well, at that point you start wondering if God is trying to get your attention. So I read the job description, and it was basically describing me to a tee. And now, here we are.

What brought you to PCP? 

Prior to learning about PCP, I worked in a vacuum, but without even realizing it. I’d been on the implementation side for most of my career before coming to the foundation, and here I’m the only staff person. For years I just figured things out on my own and didn’t know how many others there are engaged in similar work. Then, a partner I introduced me to Josh Kwan, who introduced me to PCP, and I soon realized how helpful and vital a network is. In retrospect, I now feel like I should have been looking for something like PCP – it’s been so helpful! – but I didn’t know I needed it until I got it. I love the give and take, the nature of the conversations. At first I thought of it as essentially transactional, but it’s proved to be very empowering and such a cool community.

What about your work brings you the most satisfaction? What inspires you? What surprises you?

The kids that we support have suffered an enormous amount of physical and emotional trauma.
Seeing them become happy, wonderful adults is incredibly rewarding. I’m inspired by the leaders we work with, their tenacity and hope in the midst of really difficult circumstances. One of our partners, who founded an org in Bolivia, lost her husband at the very beginning of COVID. When he got really sick she tried to take him to the hospital, but at that early stage many hospitals were so afraid they weren’t accepting patients with COVID symptoms. She was able to bribe an ambulance driver enough to bring her husband into the doors of a hospital, where he was briefly treated then transferred, but he died during the transfer. So this incredible woman, who has dedicated her life to helping others, now loses her husband in tragic circumstances. And what she does with it was to go on a grueling public campaign – TV, radio interviews – to get raise funds so the government could import more respirators. We’d all like to think that we would respond so selflessly, but to see it actually happen is so powerful. I get to meet some of the most amazing people on the planet.

Is there a question or issue that you are currently engaged with, and would love to hear from others in the community about?

I’d love to learn as much as I can about how others have dug into how to work with their partners on impact analysis, monitoring, and evaluation in a way that really makes sense for their partners rather than being prescriptive. Our partners are really interested in doing this, but of course their interest is in how they can operate more effectively, which is not always the same lens that funders use. What is the balance? And going beyond that, I’m interested in learning what other ways funders support their partners beyond the grant.

What captures your time, energy, or passion outside of work?

I got the travel bug in college and have loved it ever since. I appreciate the opportunity to see how things work elsewhere, to learn about worlds that are not familiar. Now, though, I don’t travel much since my daughter was born in August of 2020. I look forward to the time when I can again, but I am also loving being a mom. Watching a human grow is absolutely amazing.

What do you look forward to celebrating in the next year? (work or non work) 

We’re 100% focused on our daughter right now, so the first thing that comes to mind is celebrating her next birthday. She’s a pure, unexpected miracle, and I’m finding every new stage incredibly joyous. I was amazed by the newborn and baby stages, but as she’s growing it just keeps better, and that’s mind-blowing to me. I can’t conceive of how incredible it’s going to continue to be. So, even though a birthday is a simple thing, she is such a delight that I’m eagerly anticipating it.  

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