Phyllis Nichols to retire

Jay FitzOur Town Leaders

The Knoxville Area Urban League announced June 16 the retirement of Phyllis Y. Nichols, the organization’s longtime president and CEO.

Nichols will conclude her nearly 30-year career with the KAUL in September and is the longest-serving CEO of the five leaders in the organization’s 54-year history in Knoxville. She joined the organization as a curriculum and education specialist in 1994 after years in public education and private business and then became CEO in 2000.

Nichols said the job has been “challenging but also the most fulfilling work one can imagine.”

Jan Brown, board chair for the KAUL, saluted Nichols for her decades of service and the immeasurable impact she has made on the community. Brown will chair the search committee to select her replacement.

Brown said Nichols has rebranded and transformed the KAUL.

While serving as CEO, Nichols earned national recognition as a strong advocate for economic and social equality initiatives. She also served on numerous high-profile commissions and committees on crucial topics such as education, equity, social justice and employment and workforce development.

Under her leadership, the organization achieved the community development financial institution (CDFI) certification that allows the KAUL to provide capital to a target market not served by traditional institutions such as startups and small and minority businesses. Nichols started Shoes for Schools, which will mark its 20th year in August and has provided thousands of shoes and supplies for children before each new school year.

Information for this article provided by the Knoxville Area Urban League


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