Three years ago, Shelburne’s Kim Nolan was hired to run the Human Resources Department at City Market. With a PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University, Nolan knew she wanted to make some alterations but the most important one was her own title. In conjunction with the store’s restructuring process, her role was recast as Head of People and Culture.
“It’s important to put people at the center of the organization,” she said. “(Human Resources) is generally seen as doing police and compliance work but this lets us highlight the people as being in the center of things and allows us to create different aspects of management and leadership.”
Recently, the 51-year-old Nolan was given another opportunity to showcase her leadership skills when she was appointed to a position on the Vermont Commission on Women. The 16-person commission engages in education, coalition building and advocacy.
“I grew up with the ‘Anything boys can do, girls can do better’ T-shirt,” she said. “We’re moving forward but women still earn 78 cents to a man’s dollar. This is a way to be active and affect change and that feels great.”
Nolan grew up outside Washington, D.C.
“When I was 7 or 8,” she recalls, “I told my parents I was going to go to Vermont.”
Nolan attended the University of Vermont where she got her BA in Contemplative Scholarship and Therapy followed by an master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston University. A stint in mortgage banking was followed by work with homeless teens at Spectrum Youth and Family Services, directing the Community-Based Service Program at Northeastern Family Institute, and then working as the Department Chair and Lead Faculty of Integral Psychology at Burlington College where she also founded the Institute of Contemplative Studies. From there she moved to the Mind and Life Institute which gave her the opportunity to work with the Dalai Lama.
“That was the only reason I was willing to leave Vermont,” she said.
Missing her home, she took a one-year post at Lesley University where she was able to work remotely as the director of their master’s program in mindfulness studies.
In 2006, when one of Nolan’s close cousins was going through a second round of fighting cancer, she went through training to be a hospice volunteer, an area that continues to interest her. “I probably will work in death and dying later in my career,” she said.
As a result of that interest, Nolan founded the Dignity Foundation and was hired to bring mindfulness to schools throughout Vermont and beyond. When Nolan’s cousin passed away, she attended the service and was really impressed with the rabbi. Deciding she wanted to be able to perform similar functions, Nolan studied to become a Buddhist chaplain through the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe.
For Nolan, her job at City Market is a perfect combination of the different pieces of her background. The co-op has grown considerably and now has two locations, and she is pleased to be able to help with the expansion process.
“All these weird parts of my life coalesced into the job,” she said, “as well as my love of food, social justice and food access. I may not have gone to school for human resources, but I figured it out and I have a great team.”