Hometown: Hardin, Montana
As the senior director of legacy giving at St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation, Nichole Miles knows the importance of giving from her own family experience. Her work at the foundation includes a successful campaign for a pediatric intensive care unit and she's helped with a public awareness campaign to get drivers to slow down near playgrounds and in residential areas.
How did the experience with your brother’s medical condition and your family influence what you do now?
When my brother, Weston and I were kids, our family would travel back and forth from the Shriner’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington for him to receive care. As is true for most farming families, we didn’t really take summer vacations, and so we would make the most out of those medical trips through shopping, hotel stays, and dropping in at the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar gift shop. As the younger sibling, it was hard to see my brother going through such terrible pain, and spending time away from his favorite activities to heal. Selfishly, I wished that we could be traveling to Disney or some other fun place, and not having Weston return home from the Shriner’s Hospital in a cast.
When the position came open at St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation, and I learned that my primary responsibility would be fundraising for pediatrics, I recalled the difficulty of my personal experience, and imagined how challenging this must have been for my parents. I decided that spending my days as an advocate for families by raising awareness and money for our pediatrics program would be a worthwhile career.
Just five days after I started at the Foundation, my brother died unexpectedly from an unrelated medical tragedy. As difficult as this has been, I feel as though I am somewhat honoring his life through my work. When days get long, I imagine his big smile and hearty laugh to keep me focused and motivated in helping keep kids and families close to home. I think he’d be proud of his kid sister.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I feel so fortunate to spend my days building relationships with remarkable people in and around our community. Oftentimes, sacred, life-changing moments occur at St. Vincent Healthcare, and most grateful patients become donors. Whether our providers fixed the pain, saved a life, or made the last days comfortable for a loved one, when I have the opportunity to learn about those sacred moments, a very sincere and special relationship is formed.
You get to deal with people being generous. What are some of your favorite moments?
I have so many meaningful memories through my work at the Foundation. Whether or not a person has significant means doesn’t necessarily shape the magnitude of my memories. My favorite experiences are when people give to honor or memorialize someone they love, and then come to realize what a tremendous impact they are making on other families and patients.
How do you relax away from work?
I enjoy spending time with my family. Whether we are playing at home, golfing, gardening, or skiing, I find the most joy in sharing life with my husband, Trevor and kids, Lauren and Jackson. On the rare occasion that I do get time to myself, a good book and a bath do the trick.
Describe your work with the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) and how that shaped your professional career.
Approaching a capital campaign with a price tag of a few million dollars can be quite daunting. When raising money for this project, a very special donor told me, “You have to be passionate about what you are raising money for, otherwise you won’t be successful.” I have since held that statement very close to my heart. I imagine fundraising to be similar to what actors do in preparing for a big role. You have to immerse yourself in the work and understand the project from all angles to stir up the passion for the task at hand. Learning what the PICU meant for the administration, providers, families and patients helped me in crafting my messaging and sharing real life stories of impact.
What other causes are important to you?
I believe that educating and supporting our youth is the best way to invest in a prosperous future. I tend to support and volunteer for programs that uplift the kids in our community.
How did you get involved in the “Slow Down” street signs in Billings?
We have an abundance of distracted and speed friendly drivers in our community. As I watched one of my neighbors repeatedly speed through our cul-de-sac, I started worrying about the safety of all the kids in our neighborhood and beyond. Since it was an election year and yard signs were fresh on my mind, I thought it would be beneficial to remind drivers to SLOW DOWN in hopes of keeping our kids safe through a “Slow Down” yard sign campaign. With school getting out for the summer, and the generosity of St. Vincent Healthcare and Langlas & Associates in sponsoring the signs, the timing was perfect. We were overwhelmed with the response and requests for the signs. Not only did these signs serve Billings, but we had signs present in other communities like Red Lodge, Forsyth and Hardin. We look forward to continuing this safety campaign.
What is your vision for Billings in the next decade?
I’d like to see a flourishing business community paired with strong schools and increased safety and cleanliness. If we can achieve those things, all the rest will fall into place.
Why are you involved in the Billings Chamber of Commerce?
Strong relationships have played a vital role in my professional success. My involvement in the Billings Chamber has allowed me to foster these relationships and provided opportunities for me to learn and grow. I now serve on the Board of Directors as a way of giving back to an organization that has been influential. I would hope that my involvement in this organization continues to pave the way for other professionals in the community by advocating for business and place making.
How did you become good at Texas Hold ‘Em?
I was born into a family of card players. Whether it was playing King’s Corner with my grandmother after school, or marathons of pinochle, we always had a deck of cards lying around. I learned the rules of engagement at a very young age by observing my family and their friends play cards for hours on end. When I finally became old enough to have a seat at the table, I loved playing poker and the time that it allowed me to spend with the men in my family. In one large tournament that my dad, brother, grandfather and I entered, each of us placed in the top 12, with my dad winning the tournament. While I don’t often have the opportunity to play anymore, the intuition, chance, strategy, and reading of people make it a very fun game.