Smart Start of Mecklenburg County Welcomes New Chief Impact Officer & New Chief Advancement Officer

August 2023

Nonprofit organizations require a strong Chief Executive Officer to align the organization's strategy to meet the mission and vision. Additionally, each CEO needs a diverse team to help the organization thrive and expand. Therefore, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County (SSMC) is proud to welcome two new members of leadership that will help propel our mission forward.
SSMC Chief Executive Officer Mike Blackwelder welcomes Dr. Nicole Campbell as Chief Impact Officer (CIO) and Emily Lancucki as Chief Advancement Officer (CAO) this fiscal year.

"I am so excited to add two dynamic, experienced leaders to the Smart Start team," stated Mike Blackwelder, CEO. "Nicole and Emily bring a wealth of knowledge in early childhood and nonprofit management that our organization will benefit greatly from. Coming into my new role, identifying the right candidates for these positions was critically important for me. I have no doubt that we found the right people for these roles and the best fit for our team."

As CIO, Dr. Campbell is responsible for strategically overseeing all program areas within SSMC. The growth of SSMC in terms of the number of staff, funding, and community reach necessitates a strong leader capable of managing a large organization internally while advancing the work of SSMC's partners and direct service providers. A member of the SSMC Leadership Team, the CIO works closely with the CEO to advance community impact, strategic plans, and annual goals. Similarly, the CIO coordinates across departments to ensure continuity of strategy, from our prenatal work up to including SSMC's work under the leadership of our Chief Early Education Officer, advancing the vision for Universal Pre-K in the County. The CIO will actively collaborate with the early childhood team and activities at the County level, specifically advancing key initiatives, such as implementing the prenatal-to-three strategy and its components. This will include meeting and collaborating with key Mecklenburg County leaders and partnering on programmatic and advocacy work at the local and state level.

"I am honored to be a part of the Smart Start Team! Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance," said Dr. Campbell. "My goal is to get all children and families beyond the invitation!"

Dr. Nicole Campbell has spent the past 15 years focused on school design and replication in Washington, DC, and New York City. As Founding CEO of a charter school network in New York City, she broadened her reach in her efforts to serve families and create stronger foundations for early learners. Through research and best practices, Nicole examines ways to create quality programming supporting top-tier implementation, instruction, and workforce development initiatives. Her latest role in Charlotte, NC, was centered on strategic partnerships within the state's only 5 Star Dual Language Preschool (Charlotte Bilingual Preschool). Her duties included overseeing the development of a fully functioning Spanish-speaking Early Childhood Teacher Pipeline and partnerships and implementation. Nicole is a recent graduate of Stanford University (June 2022) with a focus on Organizational Management and the latest Cohort of the New Leader Policy Fellows at Columbia University (July 2022). She is passionate about bringing education, advocacy, and equity to all populations. Nicole has been able to braid her passion for children and families into her work through her research. Her doctoral research, for which she received the Christa McAuliffe Award, focused on Engaging Parents in Highly Impoverished Urban Environments. This work also received the University of Maryland's Dissertation of the Year Award. Her work partnered with Dr. Joyce Epstein of Johns Hopkins University, who created the framework for the National PTA. Through this work, Nicole has created bridges to consistent and effective communication between schools and families.

As CAO, Emily Lancucki will lead all of the organization's internal and external shared services. The position will ensure SSMC develops and implements consistent practices, including policies and procedures, to improve internal operations and meet compliance requirements. The role will oversee the Finance Team, ensuring timely and monitoring annual spending. The position will also lead the Outreach Team to ensure brand continuity, improve marketing and messaging, engage in community relations and advocacy, and assist in developing a strategy for dramatically increasing non-public funds for the organization. The position also oversees all areas of collaboration with Ascend Nonprofit Solutions, including HR, IT, and facilities. The CAO will work directly with the board of directors, manage organizational administration, and coordinate board and staff-related functions. The position serves as a key internal and external leader for the organization and holds a place on the Leadership Team of SSMC.

"I am incredibly honored and excited to join the exceptional team at Smart Start of Mecklenburg County," said Emily. "I took this role because I firmly believe that children are the very foundation of a healthy and vibrant community. By investing in their early years and providing them with the necessary resources and support to succeed in school and beyond, we are laying the groundwork for a brighter future for our entire community. As the new Chief Advancement Officer, I look forward to collaborating with our dedicated partners and stakeholders to ensure that every child in our community turns five ready to thrive."

Emily brings diverse skills and experiences in leading through change with resiliency from over ten years spent building solid partnerships, developing innovative strategies, and leading community relations initiatives. Throughout her career, Emily has remained steadfast in her commitment to improving lives and strengthening community bonds through early childhood initiatives. With experience in organizations based in both in and outside of the US, Emily has earned opportunities to deepen her understanding of all facets of program operations and philanthropic activities. In her most recent role, Emily supported ONE Charlotte Health Alliance through June 2023 as Executive Director. During her time with ONE Charlotte she led the re-launch following COVID-19 of the organization's mobile health programming, working alongside community based organizations to increase access to care and build trust in under-resourced communities. Before joining ONE Charlotte, Emily managed corporate and foundation relations for the world's largest humanitarian landmine clearance organization, The HALO Trust (USA). Prior to supporting HALO's efforts, Emily led the philanthropic strategy for Western North Carolina and Charlotte as the Manager of Development and Awareness for IFB Solutions. Emily has also served other nonprofit organizations as a Director of Operations, a Head of Communications and Cross-Curricular Development, and an Executive Director.