Director, Applied Research & Best Practice Initiative



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More about Nicole:

Nicole Wilke serves as the Director of Applied Research and Best Practice Initiative.

Nicole was raised in a family that welcomed many children through both adoption and therapeutic foster care. As she grew, Nicole embraced this commitment personally, becoming a respite provider for other families as soon as she turned 18. While at St. Olaf College to earn degrees in Psychology and Family Studies, Nicole also worked in juvenile detention and with children who had developmental delays. These experiences served to clarify Nicole’s sense of calling to work with children in adversity.

However, it was not until she and her husband, Josh, served in Namibia in 2009-2010 that Nicole knew that she was to dedicate her life to caring for vulnerable children. The Wilkes worked with a Namibian-led foster care organization and developed many relationships with orphans and vulnerable children. Josh and Nicole also observed the vital difference that well-informed models of care can make for children, and developed a true passion to help empower others to care for orphans with excellence.

Upon returning to the U.S., Nicole earned her Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, completing a thesis comparing the three primary modalities of orphan care. Subsequently, she worked as a therapist specializing in trauma, adoption, and displaced children. She also completed a degree in Permanency and Adoption Competency from the University of Minnesota.