Nikki McGruder

Director of the Inclusive Impact Institute

Nikki McGruder is dedicated to helping businesses and community groups create inclusive environments. Her day-to-day job duties vary, but it often includes developing training and collaborating with different volunteers.

“To be going into our fifth year of service to our community, and to see that people are paying attention, people are seeing the value in the work, it just kind of solidifies, if you will, that we are doing the right thing,” McGruder said.

The institute created a program with two parts: working with business leaders to prioritize the importance of diversity and empowering volunteers to create experiences for everyone to learn about biases they may have.

McGruder said her biggest contribution to the Columbia community has been creating collaborative relationships with different people and groups in Columbia.

“Social justice challenges are bigger than one person, one organization. We need each other,” she said.

Stacye Smith

Director of Human Resources at Shelter Insurance Companies

Stacye Smith has worked at Shelter Insurance Companies for 32 years. She works with the company’s internship program where she helps college students get exposed to job opportunities in the insurance industry. For her, social justice means working to remove barriers for individuals so that they can access opportunities.

“If you don’t know something, then you don’t know what’s possible for you,” Smith said.

Smith is also a board member of Columbia’s Boys & Girls Club where the kids know her as “Ms. Shelter.” She remembers growing up in Columbia with positive role models and wants to make sure young folks now see people who look like them in leadership roles.

“I’ve had people that made sure I was at the right place at the right time and that’s made a difference in my life, and I hope that I can do that for others,” she said.

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