Nicole Velasquez


From delivering food to front-line medical providers to finding homes for rescue pets, Nicole Velasquez’s philanthropic efforts know no bounds. 2020 may be a whirlwind year so far, but nothing has deterred her from putting others first and greeting new challenges head-on. Nicole sat with GB Magazine and shared details about her current role at Thrive Animal Rescue, key characteristics of successful leaders, and so much more.

GB: How did you come to be the Executive Director of Thrive Animal Rescue?

NV: I first learned of Thrive Animal Rescue from my mother Mary Drake, who boards her horses at the equestrian stable owned by Cece Durante Bloum, the President of Thrive. I learned more about the organization through my volunteer work as a volunteer. As a fellow animal lover, I knew this was a nonprofit I would love to become involved with. Cece reached out to me in 2019 and asked if I would like to take on the position of Executive Director. I could not have said yes fast enough! It has always been a dream to work with like-minded, dog-loving women.

GB: What are the main qualities an effective leader should have?

NV: I believe that the most important qualities of a good leader are active listening and communication. The ability to really listen to your colleagues and be open to feedback is an invaluable skill. I also think clear communication is vital to running a successful nonprofit. Working directly with the community, I have learned to spot obstacles early on, problem-solve accordingly, and come up with unique solutions both at work and at home. It also definitely does not hurt to have a deep-rooted love for the work you are doing!

GB: How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

NV: Nothing gives me solace quite like going on a hike or doing yoga. Sometimes, my daughter Tessa and I will walk to the Scripps Pier early in the morning with our dogs when it is still calm and quiet. Especially during the summer months, I like to go there and just listen to the waves and watch the sun rise before the crowds arrive. It is my favorite way to start the day!

GB: What is your favorite travel destination and why?

NV: My absolute favorite place to go is Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico! Every year, my mom, my daughter, and I take a trip and it has become a cherished family tradition. I instantly feel relaxed as we drive through the gates. There is nothing better than completely unplugging from the world and enjoying healthy local organic food, beautiful scenery, and wonderful company. We make new friends from all over the country with each visit. I feel so lucky to live so close to Tecate and it is just the easiest getaway being from San Diego.

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Esteban Villanueva