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DASA Executive Director of Development Nicki Peterson Wins Extraordinary Spirit Award

Nicki Peterson with her Extraordinary Spirit Award.
Nicki Peterson displays her Extraordinary Spirit Award outside Park Shops.

Over the course of her 19 years at NC State, Nicki Peterson, the Division of Academic and Student Affairs’ executive director of development, has strived to provide her colleagues with every opportunity possible to grow and develop. 

At last week’s University Advancement awards ceremony, Peterson’s efforts were recognized as she received the Extraordinary Spirit Award. The award has been presented annually since 2017 in honor of former Associate Vice Chancellor of Development Francine Cronin, who passed away suddenly that year. 

“It meant a great deal,” Peterson said. “It’s based on peer nominations, and it also meant a lot because I was fortunate to know and work with Francine. Knowing what this award represented with her qualities, it meant a lot to me personally.”

Knowing what this award represented with her qualities, it meant a lot to me personally.

The nominees for the Extraordinary Spirit Award are individuals who “create a positive, supportive and inclusive place for employees to work and learn, demonstrate exemplary leadership, invest time coaching and mentoring to influence others and build consensus, implement innovative solutions to improve the way work is done, contribute to the success of others by sharing expertise and knowledge on a department or university team or committee and contribute to its success by participating in efforts outside job duties to improve the university community.”

Several of Peterson’s colleagues and coworkers spoke on her behalf for the nomination, with one saying that “her mentorship inspires peers while she provides unique support for colleagues beyond siloed teams.”

“I think about my 19 years on campus and how many opportunities I’ve had to grow and be challenged,” Peterson said. “I’m really motivated to give others those opportunities. I’ve had a number of people on my teams who I have supported their professional growth. And, sometimes I encouraged them to move outside or beyond my team, even if it was a loss to me personally. It’s always been more important to me when I can help others grow and succeed.”

Peterson also said she remembers Cronin’s commitment to fostering a positive work environment and strives to do the same for those she works with in the division’s development office. 

One of her nominators described her as “that rare mix of being simultaneously bold and humble, lighthearted and unflappable, focused and available.”

Another said that Peterson’s career at NC State “is marked by shepherding younger professionals, launching new initiatives, bringing perspective and rationale to broad and sometimes difficult discussions and being someone that, quite frankly, you just enjoy working with.”

“I think it was probably one of if not the most important recognition that I’ve received in 19 years because I knew Francine and I knew the importance of the award,” Peterson said. “It helped me look back on things that I do by nature but aren’t always easy. It gave me a chance to reflect and recognize how I’ve been able to help others be successful.”