July 2019 Honoree
Nicki Schoonover – Bringing people and businesses together
Vibrant, smiling, resourceful, engaging, professional, well-connected. If these words were brushstrokes, they would paint a bold and happy image of Nicki Schoonover. Through her work as a human resource professional, Nicki has helped hundreds of organizations become “employers of choice”, job seekers attain rewarding employment, managers/supervisors sharpen their leadership skills, and HR professionals advance their careers. She has also demonstrated an investment in our community by sharing her professional knowledge and experience and her genuine compassion for others for the greater cause.
Nicki met her husband, David Schoonover, in 1970 at a weekend retreat sponsored by the Archdiocese of Miami. David, a college student, was a group leader for a pilot program developed to engage high school students in their Catholic faith; Nicki was an attendee. They began dating shortly after they met and married in May 1979 in Miami.
David had secured a job with FPL in 1978 and moved to Stuart. Naturally, Nicki followed after the wedding and made Stuart her new hometown. Now, David is retired from FPL after 36 years in project management positions, although he remains very active as a consultant. Nicki and David have two grown daughters, Kelley and Rebecca, both of whom live nearby.
While still living in Miami, Nicki had an insider’s view of many industries including a large hospital, Bertram Yacht and Automatic Data Processing. Eventually she grew tired of the commute to Miami and took a position with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Research in Fort Pierce, followed by positions with a couple of large community developers. She attained the certification of Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) in 1991 and, with years of experience in the corporate world, she was ready for the next phase of her professional career.
In 1992, Nicki decided to establish her own firm, N. Schoonover and Associates, Inc., to serve organizations that didn’t have the need or budget for a full time professional but still needed HR services.
Nicki’s business continues to flourish, and she provides consulting to corporations and nonprofits in the many disciplines of human resource management from recruitment to executive coaching, training, workplace investigations, wage/benefit studies, employee satisfaction surveys, and more. “I am very proud that all my clients have come to me through client and colleague referrals,” Nicki notes.
Over the years, Nicki has worked with clients in Florida, New York and New Jersey but now concentrates on a client base with corporate offices in Florida. “Working locally on a regular basis has enabled me to stay more involved in my community,” Nicki said. She advocates the causes and efforts of a number of worthy non-profits but at the top of her current list are the Council on Aging of Martin County, the Arts Council of Martin County and the Human Resource Association of Martin County.
A colleague recruited Nicki to serve on a committee for the Council on Aging of Martin County (COA) 26 years ago. She states, “I was quickly hooked and have assumed volunteer leadership positions for the Council ever since.” She served two terms as president of the Board of Directors from 1998 to 2001 and again in 2012 to 2015.
During that time, the COA raised the funds to build the large, modern senior center on Salerno Road in 2011 where they are now headquartered.
On the cultural front, Nicki became involved with The Arts Council of Martin County in 2006, once again recruited by a friend. Aside from having an appreciation for the many art forms, she recognizes the educational and economic value the arts bring to our community. She served on the board of directors until 2018 and continues to be an active member and volunteer.
Nicki was a founder and charter member of the Human Resources Management Association of Martin County and remains active today. The Association provides a platform for her to share her professional knowledge with high school students preparing to get their first job with the Steps for Success program. She has also chaired the Best Places to Work in Martin County which guides and recognizes employers for their efforts in creating desirable workplaces.
While her children were still in school, Nicki served as an advisory board member and chaired the strategic planning committee for St. Joseph Catholic School. She also co-chaired their campaign, Lighting the Way, in 2000. Nicki served on the John Carroll Catholic High School Advisory Board from 2004-2007. She was a charter board member of Florida Arts and Dance Company and was president of the board in 1998. She served a three-year term on the 19th Circuit Court Grievance Committee for the Florida Bar Association.
Nicki has also been a member of the Palm City Chamber of Commerce since 1999.
Nicki rarely responds “no” to a request for assistance. In the later part of 2008 without hesitation, she answered the request of a number of faith-community leaders who were concerned about the decline in the local economy and how many of their parishioners/members were affected. She quickly jumped to action and spearheaded the development and execution of Careers in Transition, a free program that provided coaching for the unemployed and underemployed to help individuals in their job search. Over 100 persons participated, and Nicki recalls with a smile that she created a lot of resumes between 2009 and 2012.
Her dedication to her profession and community has been publicly recognized numerous times. In 1999, the local HR chapter created the Schoonover Professional of the Year Award that is presented annually to an individual who advances the HR profession. She was honored as a Business/Professional Woman of Distinction by the local chapter of Soroptimist International. The Association of Fundraising Professionals of the Treasure Coast also recognized her as an Unsung Hero for her philanthropic efforts.
Nicki’s desire and commitment to give back to a community that has provided a near-perfect place for their family to live, work and play is mirrored by the whole Schoonover clan. Together, as a family on Christmas morning, they deliver warm meals to shut-ins and seniors as David has volunteered with the Stuart Police Department for as long as he has lived in Martin County and ArtsFest for the Arts Council, while their daughters participate in causes dear to their heart.
Asked about what she wishes for the future of Martin County, Nicki comments that she would like to see a more conducive environment to encourage young people to stay local or return after college. The creation of good jobs and affordable housing should be given the needed attention of our local public officials.
Her other wish is that each of us, individually and as a community, take action to “make a difference” in the lives of those in our community living in poverty, at risk, homeless, or in need of medical care by sharing our time, knowledge, talents and financial support with organizations that are spearheading the efforts for a better community.”
She continues, “When it comes to investing in our community, I believe in the words of Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”