Trendsetter to Know: Nicola Lawrence, AVP, Philanthropic Advising at Phoenix Children’s

Name: Nicola Lawrence

Twitter: @friendsofpch

Facebook: @friendsofpch

Instagram: @friendsofpch


Age: 46

Title: AVP, Philanthropic Advising

Married/Single: Married

Kids: Well – more than most…. Two biological kids, two adopted, three step and I’ve fostered 11!

City you live in: North Scottsdale

A typical day in my life includes…  There is no typical day in my world. My days are diverse and challenging but beautiful! I consider it a privilege to learn the way of gifting and helping our donors give more than they thought possible through creative planning.

Some days I’m meeting with a family who wants to create a lasting memorial to a loved one, other days I’m working with successful entrepreneurs who are looking to benefit Phoenix Children’s while optimizing tax benefits after selling their company, or I am assisting a financial advisor on how to keep more in the pockets of their clients, yet other opportunities lead me to working with an older person who is reflecting on their values and how they want to build a living legacy of hope for future generations. 

I was born… in Greater Manchester, Northwest England.

My favorite thing about Arizona… The beautiful landscape. I have enjoyed hiking and nature all my life.

I’m listening to… It’s different every day! I love music of all kinds. I have taught children’s stage music in the past and have been a competitive singer. My husband is a Great Blues harmonica musician, so I often hear live Gritty Blues, Classic Rock and even Broadway. 

On a day-to-day basis you’re just as likely find me listening to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or Bill Withers’s “Lovely Day.” Some days its Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child of Mine” and others its Frank Sinatra’s “Beyond the Sea.” The only thing you can be sure of is that it will be playing. One of the rare times I don’t have music on, I’ll be listening to “Dare to Lead” podcast by Brené Brown or a good thriller novel on Audible.

My family… I live in North Troon with my husband, Reno, and our dog, Rembrandt. The kids have all flown the coop now and just come to visit.

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be… My Mom. She passed last year. She was a joyful person who was a great listener. I would cherish another dinner with her sharing the adventures the kids are having, the joys of my new hometown and the excitement of serving at Phoenix Children’s. 

One thing I cannot live without… Sunshine, red wine and chocolate… No honestly, I believe that the human spirit can endure far more than we understand and still rise. I’ve lived with little and enjoyed much. In all I’ve found ways to thrive. I’ve worked with those that are in poverty by many standards and yet love life and bring joy to others. SO do I prefer to have sunshine, red wine and chocolate in liberal measures – YES! Can I live without? – I know this to be true!

When I was younger, I wanted to be… A Disney Princess – I loved to sing their songs!

I’m inspired by… Our patients – a child’s zest for life is hard to extinguish despite seemingly insurmountable challenges.

The one person who motivates me is… My daughters – I want to show them it is possible to embrace their femininity yet be a leader in their chosen field.

If I could change anything in the world, it would be… Inequities. Everyone deserves a voice, an opportunity to rise, and a seat at the table. There is enough to go round.

The perfect day would be… Hiking with my husband in the British Lake District followed by a pub with a local beer, homecooked food and a roaring fire.

My first job was… Selling greeting cards in an outdoor market.

My favorite escape… The beauty of nature. From hiking the trails on my doorstep or a several day back pack trip into the Colorado wilderness or kayaking islands of the keys in Florida or sitting on cliff watching the Pacific Ocean or a cabin in the smokies – the splendor of our world is something I seek often as a place of peace.

My life… Has been a winding journey. I’ve lived in three continents, several states, and several cities as I’ve dedicated my life to the service of humanity. I’ve encountered many beautiful people along the way. It’s not the life I envisioned as a young person – investing it into others has created a richness I never imagined.

I’m currently working on… Spreading the word about the ‘magic’ of gift planning and bringing hope to kids at Phoenix Children’s. It truly is exciting to watch the joy donors experience as they realize it is possible to ensure loved ones are provided for while they build a living legacy that will embody their values.

Always… enjoy the beauty of diverse opinions and alternate experiences. It makes for a richer discourse.

Never… Create an environment where it’s not safe to make mistakes. Embrace the humanness of the people we live with. We all fail forward.

Favorite Quote… “We make a living by what we earn and a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill

Biggest Dream… To build my own living legacy – that there be more justice, equity, hope and peace wherever I invest myself.

My Pet Peeve(s)… Meanness – compassion and empathy make the world a better place.

Bio-on yourself/company: Born and raised in Northern England, Nicola Lawrence attended Wigan College, the University of Leicester, York St Johns and Dundee University, and the American College of Financial Services specializing in business, finance and nonprofit leadership.

She has made the US home since the 1990s. Over the last two decades, Nicola has led sustainability and legacy based giving through successful campaigns at a variety of nonprofits, both in the US and internationally. Integrating digital and print mediums together, Nicola is an award-winning multi-channel planned giving educator. Bringing sophistication to non-profit endowment building and sustainability, Nicola never forgets that this kind of philanthropy requires careful personal attention to each donor’s current financial well-being, assisting them in bringing their charitable legacy to life. 

Nicole started her role at Phoenix Children’s as Associate Vice President, Philanthropic Advising in September and leads the philanthropic advising and integrated gift planning programs and outreach. She works alongside foundation development officers and with donors to help educate others on what gift planning is and how anyone may want to consider leaving a lasting legacy that impacts children and families in need at Phoenix Children’s. Nicola’s heart and dedication to helping others make a difference in their community make her exceptional in this position.

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