Nikki Villavicencio

Tireless Advocate for the Community

Nikki Villavicencio is a tireless disability rights advocate who has never let fear stop her from standing up for the rights of all people with disabilities. She started advocating for patients at Gillette Lifetime,  Gillette Children's Hospital's adult clinic, for inclusion in their community. Meeting with the patients and sitting on the Consumer Advisory Committee, Nikki learned about the things that were important to them and then either advocated on the issue or guided them in the path to advocating for themselves. For example, she found that many people with disabilities have troubles with getting around, so she applied for, then was appointed to the Transportation Accessability Advisory Committee (TAAC). Thus, had been on the committee from 2010 to 2015, Vice Chair since 2011. Being an avid public transportation user, Nikki loves taking seniors and people with disabilities on the City Bus and light rail for their first times.   Another common issue that she found was, access to local government was a challenge for many people with disabilities and their families. Which is why the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD) was such an important part of her relationship between Gillette and public policy. This is where Nikki's real work just started. With MN-CCD's partnership, she hosted a lobby day for Gillette's patients at the state capitol. Public policy became more and more the focus of what needed to be changed and therefore Nikki's involvement became more and more her focus. Listing them not in order, here are many:    In partnership with MN-CCD, organized a Meet and Greet with new legislators, and a Town Hall Forum in South Minneapolis;  Testified and spoke publicly on Homecare, Anti-bullying, public transit, jobs, etc;  Founding member and leader of Adapt Mn, a local organization that uses direct action as a tool to fight discrimination;  Advised on Congressman Kieth Ellison's campaign for two elections;  Advised on John Marty's campaign for governor;  Worked as a Voter Outreach Disability Specialist for the MN Secretary of State;  Worked for Advocating Change Together (ACT) as a Community Organizer specializing in ensuring People with Disabilities can live, work and play in the surrounding areas of the Light Rail;  Co-hosts Disability Viewpoints, a monthly TV show highlighting the abilities of people living with a disability.  In recent, Nikki has been an important part of the movement to increase the standards and professionalism of work that's being done in her own "backyard." Homecare and parks have been the main focus. Being a leader on a team that has unionized 27,000 workers has brought such community for her, her husband and daughter. She was the first consumer nationally that has bargained alongside workers.    Also, Nikki realized that having a good quality of life is vital to people with disabilities, and that it is directly linked to the environment in which we live. The parks and rec department became an access point to that good quality of life and that is why now she is Commissioner of the Parks Dept. of Maplewood.i