Nicole Watts currently serves as the full-time Founder/Executive Director of Hopeprint, which she began in 2010, with the mission of empowering resettled refugees to thrive. Nicole's experience in the urban core in a variety of capacities stretches back to the summer before her freshman year of high school when she spent a week in a homeless women and children's shelter in Chicago, and was marked for the rest of her life. Growing up in a home that opened up its doors to visitors from all around the world from a young age, her exposure and love for the cultures of the world has been a theme of her life. It was no surprise that when she became friends with the first few resettling refugees families she met from Rwanda, Burma/Myanmar and Bhutan that she had found the people she wished to share life with.
Nicole and a team of 15-20 other Hopeprint team members now reside in the heart of the Northside neighborhood of Syracuse, NY, home to approximately 10,000+ former refugees, and anticipated 1,000+ a year newly arriving. Their Hopeprint "Family" opens their homes and lives through shared meals, tutoring, kids clubs, community gardening, women's and men's groups, English and more. This ever-growing and changing group calls themselves "family" thanks to the name they have been given over and over by newcomers joining it - the home and family they longed for from the land they left behind.
Nicole attended undergrad and seminary in Chicago, IL, and spent the first eleven years of her adult life serving as an ordained minister at a local church near Syracuse. She is daughter to Steve and Sarah Watts, and the oldest of four siblings and a sister-in-law - Tricia, Dustin, Katie and Daniel. Her oft repeated answer to whether or not she has a family of her own is a pointing to the hundreds of people from around the world that she shares life with. Her Congolese friends enjoy to tell visitors that she has "one hundred children," motioning to the many little ones underfoot. Just take a look at the glow in her eyes and you will know she is quite sure this is where life abundant is at.