Currently, the Executive Director of the NIIT, Nikki Zaahir has a uniquely straightforward approach to economic empowerment and connecting people with skills and skills with industry. With over 15 years of experience, Nikki is an expert in facilitating the combination of transferable life skills and subsequent training to provide opportunities for advancement to both individuals and underserved communities, having designed, coordinated, and directed programs that promote the achievement of career-oriented skills through certified training that aligns with industries that offer stability and advancement. Nikki believes that learning takes place everywhere and all the time – and what distinguishes one community or person from another is not ability, but access.
Nikki has executive experience in grant management, program evaluation, and workforce development, with a specific focus on reaching underserved communities. Through her work, Nikki has increased diversity, equity, and inclusion in industry sectors and occupations which provide stable, living wage jobs and structured opportunities for career and education advancement. She is an expert in designing, coordinating, and directing holistic programs which reinforce a strategy that learning takes place everywhere and all the time – and what distinguishes one community or person from another is not ability but access.
As the Director of Administration, Outreach, and Engagement at the NIIT, Nikki was responsible for all program administration and engagement strategies to expand the talent pipeline. Prior to joining the NIIT, Nikki was a Senior Program Administrator for SEMI, an industry association representing the global end-to-end electronics industry. In that role, she was responsible for grant management, program evaluation, outreach, and improving visibility regarding the semiconductor industry. Before joining SEMI, Nikki served as Executive Director and previously National Director of Workforce Development at Vehicles for Change (VFC), Inc. Under her direction, VFC improved the lives of more than 20,000 individuals by giving them access to increased economic independence, access to better housing, and access to choose. While at VFC, Nikki designed and implemented a social enterprise to assist returning citizens with acquiring certified, skilled training and job placement.
Nikki also served as Corporate Representative Department chair at America Works, Inc. At America Works, she worked with returning citizens and Welfare-to-Work clientele to provide opportunities for economic independence leading to generational impact. Nikki has served as Operations Manager at Global Telecommunications, Quality Management Officer at the Department of Defense, National Security Agency, and Maintenance Technician at National Semiconductor and National Security Agency. Nikki has served on select Public and Private Boards, including Baltimore County Workforce Development Board, Maryland Correctional Enterprise Management Council, and the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women Wardens Council. She is a certified Master Life Coach and MBSR. She was awarded the 2018 Maryland State Raising the Bar in Leadership award and the 2018 Associated Black Charities Women on the Move award.