NICOLE NFONOYIM-HARA, MSc.
N WRITING & CONSULTING
Nicole "Cole" Asong Nfonoyim-Hara is a writer and anthropologist committed to community building and storytelling. Her research and work have taken her around the country and the world. She currently lives in Rochester, MN with her husband and daughter. She currently works as the Diversity Program Director in the Office for Diversity at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine & Science. She is also the host and associate producer of R-Town, a civic and cultural affairs shows about the city on KSMQ-TV.
She is a 2017 recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in Prose, a 2016-2017 Loft Literary Center Mentor Series participant, and was previously a fellow with the Givens Foundation for African American Literature and a VONA/Voices of Our Nation Fellow. Her short stories have been published in Joyland Magazine and The Offing.
Nicole holds a B.A. in anthropology/sociology from Swarthmore College and a master’s degree in migration studies from the Oxford University in England.
Raised in New York City, she was born in the Dominican Republic with Cameroonian, Afro-Costa Rican, and Gujarati parentage. Her writing grapples with issues of migration, diasporas, alienation, identity, culture, and both personal and collective myth-making. She is a winner of the Loft Literary Center Mentor Series 2016-2017 in the fiction genre. She is currently working on a short story collection. The project is made possible by the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant awarded to 32 prose writers and ten poets in 2017. She also served as the local critic and catalog essay writer for the 2016/2017 Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists.
Nicole's first short story Gargoyle was published in Joyland Magazine in the fall of 2016. Her second short story The Only Ones was published in The Offing. Her essays and articles have also appeared in MedCity Beat, 507 Magazine and Pollen Midwest. Her nonfiction work appears in the anthology Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out, the Mixed Race Studies blog, and the Oxford Diasporas Program's photo essay series.
NONPROFIT & SOCIAL JUSTICE EXPERIENCE
Nicole has worked with several nonprofit organizations across the nation and internationally. She served as Project Coordinator at Draper Consulting Group (DCG) in Los Angeles providing development, capacity building, board development, and communications services to nonprofit organizations and grantmakers. During this time she worked closely with an arts foundation and the place-based initiatives of a local grantmaking organization.
She was also Assistant Director and Africana Community Coordinator at Oberlin College’s Multicultural Resource Center where she developed and coordinated social justice programs to support the needs of historically underrepresented student communities, including students of color, queer and trans* students, and first generation students. Nicole was widely recognized for her work around multiracial/mixed-race identities and racial justice. Her retired blog "Mixed Dreams" and the course she developed and taught at Oberlin College aimed to provide a critical and intersectional space to discuss what it means to be "mixed-race" in "postracial" America. She is certified in multipartial mediation from the Yeworkwha Belachew Dialogue Center.
She has traveled to Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia to conduct research and advocate on a range of international development and policy issues, including migration, youth empowerment, social justice, and human rights. With the organization Seva Mandir, Nicole co-designed and implemented a research and advocacy project to improve access to education in rural tribal communities in Udaipur, India.
In 2014, Nicole co-led a #Black Lives Matter march and rally with friend and colleague Josh Aiken in solidarity with protests in Ferguson, MO and New York City. The march held in Oxford, England included a march of over 250 community members and students as well as speeches connecting transnational issues of racism and state violence. Nicole and Josh presented reflections on their organizing at the Race and Resistance Research Network of the Oxford Research Centre on the Humanities (TORCH).
In the wake of the 2016 shooting of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, MN, Nicole created an online toolkit called the "Rochester Racial Justice Toolkit". It is an online compilation of resources to help facilitate dialogue and community education around issues of racial justice.
She was recently featured in a new video series by the Washington Post and The Lily on allyship and anti-racism in the wake of the renewed struggle for black lives in the summer of 2020.
EDUCATION & RESEARCH
Nicole received her BA in Anthropology, Sociology & Latin American Studies from Swarthmore College and holds a Master of Science degree in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford, England. In 2008, she was awarded a Fulbright research grant to create a visual ethnography with African migrants in Madrid, Spain.
Her research in migration and urban anthropology at the University of Oxford focused on local government policies and strategies of city-branding and placemaking to address undocumented migration in New York City. Her innovative approach considered how these policies could be understood as ethnographic material potentially reshaping the everday life, access, and political possibilities of undocumented New Yorkers.
Nicole is a native Spanish speaker. She has also been a dancer and choreographer for student dance companies practicing West African, Afro-Modern, and Afro-Latin dance.