Opportunity Champion

Nicole McKinney, Ph.D., LPC
NC Executive Director, Upstream USA

Meet Nicole McKinney

— In this series, we highlight the work of our partners in our Opportunity Movement and share their vision for Charlotte’s future.

Child & Family Stability

Meet our Opportunity Champion, Nicole McKinney, Ph.D., LPC, NC Executive Director of Upstream USA

Leading on Opportunity: What is your vision for economic mobility in Charlotte-Mecklenburg?

Nicole McKinney: Unplanned pregnancies are a leading reason why young women drop out of high school and community college, creating lifelong economic barriers for women and their families. Being unable to finish school lowers earning potential and can increase the likelihood of poverty for themselves and their children. Our vision for economic mobility in Charlotte-Mecklenburg is to foster an enabling environment that empowers all women, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, to decide when and if they want to become pregnant, improving economic and health outcomes for parents, children, and society.

Leading on Opportunity: What does opportunity mean to you?

Nicole McKinney: Opportunity is making informed choices about one’s life, such as when and if to become pregnant. Unplanned pregnancies have the potential to significantly limit opportunities for education and economic advancement. Ensuring best-in-class contraceptive access to all women empowers them to plan their reproductive lives in a way that helps them achieve their personal and professional goals.

Leading on Opportunity: How does Leading on Opportunity’s North Star Goal inspire and connect to your work?

Nicole McKinney: Leading on Opportunity’s North Star Goal is at the heart of Upstream’s mission of reducing unplanned pregnancies. Unfortunately, low-income women are 5x as likely to have an unplanned pregnancy as compared to higher-income women. Additionally, women with unplanned pregnancies are more likely to delay prenatal care, which can lead to negative health outcomes for mothers and their children. When a woman is able to plan her pregnancy there are often significant downstream health and economic benefits for her children.

To learn more, visit upstream.org.

Moving Charlotte from 50 out of 50 in economic mobility is a collaborative, community effort. With that in mind, we set a goal to build an Opportunity Movement that celebrates everyone's contributions. On March 26, 2019, we honored 50 Inaugural Opportunity Champions who have gone above and beyond to support implementation and align to one or more of our 21 community-inspired strategies within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force Report. Often without any public recognition, this group of distinguished leaders set the bar high for others in our community to invest in building a stronger equitable community for all children, youth and families.