ABN Member Spotlight: Nicole Chandler, Executive Director of The Change Center

Nicole Chandler, Executive Director of The Change Center, is dedicated to hearing the community’s voice.

The Change Center is a safe, strategically located, center-city partnership facility that provides relational, recreational, leadership development, and job initiatives for teens and young adults. Set to open in the fall of 2017, the center grew out of the need for a safe, affordable, and accessible location for kids to spend time.

“It was really about hearing the voice of the community,” said Nicole. “Very early on we met with young people and members of the community, and they started dreaming about what they wanted to see. For kids it was always the same: we want to skate.”

The Change Center will feature a roller skating rink, rock climbing, video games, and a stage and DJ. The Center also has a partnership with the Knoxville Ice Bears to provide an inline hockey league.

Dedicated to serving young people, Nicole previously worked with Project Grad Knoville for 10 years before beginning her work with The Change Center. “When we started the idea for The Change Center, I remember a young lady told me ‘You’ve gotten us all excited about this, it would be a shame if it didn’t come to pass.’ That’s what keeps it going. We have to get this done because we have something valuable with the trust of the community,” she said.

A Knoxville native, Nicole says the most rewarding part of her job is getting to serve the kids and families in the Knoxville community. “Because I’m from this community it’s special,” she said. “All of those people that invested in me from preschool to community groups to college, I get to honor that investment they made in me through this work.”

With construction underway, The Change Center plans to open its doors as soon as possible to begin serving Knoxville. “This is so important for Knoxville because I believe it will be the thing that unites the community to create great change,” said Nicole.

For more information about The Change Center, visit their website at changecenterknoxville.com.