Nicola is a human rights activist and campaigner with 18 years of professional experience in academia and civil society and non-governmental organisations. She is a Founding Coordinator for Act Now, a digital first campaigning organisation for Northern Ireland. Set up in partnership with Uplift in the Republic of Ireland and 38 Degrees in the UK, Act Now enables people across Northern Ireland from different backgrounds to campaign for changes across a range of issues that matter to them - from fracking, reproductive rights, integrated education, and poverty.
She is also currently working on narrative and messaging work to build a new narrative for post-conflict Northern Ireland - one capable of building coalitions across difference which can effectively campaign for progressive change. Nicola is a Fellow with The Social Change Initiative’s Leadership for Social Justice and Peace in Northern Ireland programme and a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission’s Research Advisory Group.
For 12 years, Nicola served as the Director of Policy for the grassroots human rights organisation Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In her work at PPR, Nicola helped to put the voices of marginalised groups at the heart of social change, by supporting them to design and implement campaigns to realise their socio-economic rights and render decision-making more participatory. She was a founder staff member of PPR and played a key role in developing PPR’s unique participatory human rights indicator methodology which was recognised as a good practice example by the United Nations in 2012.
She previously worked as an academic researcher on capital punishment, penal policy and practice at the University of Westminster, and on asylum and refugee issues at UNHCR Liaison Office in Dublin.
Nicola holds both an LLB (Hons) degree from the University of Dundee and an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Nottingham.
Through my work I have learned the importance of not only getting a change on the ground, but also of how you get that change. By placing tools and opportunities in the hands of marginalised communities to enable them to shape their own campaigns, I have seen remarkable transformations in policy and practice, but most importantly in people themselves.