Phyllis Young Nichols joined the Urban League as a curriculum and education specialist in 1994 after many years in public education and private business. As chief executive since 2000, she has expanded the Urban League impact to serve more than 11,000 individuals and families each year. The League’s 24 programs help create a more skilled and diverse workforce; increase and retain homeownership; support economic and small business development, facilitate certification of the affiliate as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and advocate for equity and excellence in education for students of color. Recognized as a Senior Fellow by the National Urban League, her expertise in board and affiliate development has aided her work with the League and other non-profit organizations throughout the country.
Nichols is an ardent advocate for excellence and equity in public education with a specific focus on education reform and public policy efforts that impact students of color. Nichols received the 2019 Distinguished Service Award from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission. The TN Education Equity Coalition recognized her as the 2019 Equity Champion for Tennessee.