River City Six – Michelle Nielson
Meet Michelle Nielson, Senior Community Health Director for the American Heart Association here in Nebraska.
Tell us a little about your business.
The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, our organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters. We fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide critical tools and information to save and improve lives.
How did you get started in the business?
I’ve worked in public/community health for the last decade. I was previously with the American Heart Association in 2008 and unfortunately the position was eliminated with the economic downturn. In 2016, AHA had the opportunity to open a new role in Nebraska, focused more on community health and the impact we can make locally. I excitedly applied and was hired in a new role.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
It’s always been important to me to find roles in my career that are impactful and challenging. I like to be involved in something bigger than just one person and work with likeminded individuals and teams. My biggest challenge has been to find a role that satisfies these ideals.
What has been your most important achievement professionally?
I believe it has been my success in building professional relationships. It has been a vital component in each of the positions I have had, currently and in the past.
Tell us a little about your family.
My husband, Clay, and I have been married for 13 years. Clay is the Director of Operations at Omaha Track. We have two teenage daughters who keep us very busy.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
In 2006, we moved from west-central Nebraska to Omaha. Prior to that year, my career had been made up of jobs that did not meet the goals I had for myself. Omaha provided an opportunity to explore many options to find something far more satisfying.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
I enjoy golfing, yoga, and when weather allows spending the day on our boat at the lake. Travel is a passion of mine and I enjoy professional and personal trips.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know?
I am a registered yoga instructor. A few years ago, I went to Costa Rica for a 2-3 week immersion trip and completed an intensive certification program there.
What are you the most proud of?
My children. We have moved them around a few times, they have been enrolled in multiple schools and through it all have met new friends, accepted the challenges of being in new environments and continue to be great kids.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor!
If you could choose any other profession to be successful in, what would it be?
I would’ve loved to have gone to culinary school to be a pastry chef.
What local non-profit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why?
I am very involved in the one I work for, the American Heart Association, and volunteer at all of the events. In addition to that, I support other initiatives that have a similar goal and mission to create healthier lives in our community.