Living and Breathing Mission

For so many organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic posed an urgent need to adapt. To catch up. To build something new.

Not so for Nichole Gladney ’00, director of community outreach and engagement for Ascension Wisconsin. Gladney and her team tapped established partnerships and an already strong foundation to deliver information ― and later, vaccines ― to communities around the state.

“We knew we needed to get messaging out about the coronavirus, especially to vulnerable communities that may not be digitally connected. So we went to the frameworks we had previously developed,” she explains. “We worked with our urban media partners and hosted virtual town halls with faith leaders. We have been communicating in this space for several years as a trusted voice.”

Not only did Ascension Wisconsin share information about staying safe from the coronavirus on radio shows targeted to African American and Spanish-speaking audiences, Gladney says, but within weeks of vaccines being widely available, her team was leveraging partnerships with community organizations to distribute vaccines to populations that historically have faced barriers to accessing quality health care.

“I’m so grateful to work for an organization that lives, breathes and honors its mission. The mission is not just a statement hanging on a wall,” she says of the Catholic health care organization, a strong partner to Alverno with a shared mission.

In fact, Gladney attributes her mission-driven career path to her Alverno education, which she says allowed and encouraged her to consider such questions as: What’s meaningful to me? What do I want to become?

“I began to look at the world differently and my place in the world. I knew I wanted to serve others, but I didn’t know exactly how that might work for me,” she recalls. “Through my experience at Alverno, it became clear.”

This article appears in the winter 2022 issue of Alverno Magazine.

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