Member Spotlight: Nicole Norfles


“It is powerful to put faces with stories to see and say, I know her story.”

These are the words of Nicole Norfles, Black African American; consummate professional; self-described super power-bearing goddess; and free woman living and working in the DC Metro Area. We are grateful to have Nicole in our corner as a BlackFemaleProject member, a #100SistersStrong sustaining donor, and an inaugural story collection contributor. (Keep your eyes out for Nicole’s story release coming soon!)

In sharing why BlackFemaleProject matters to her, Nicole sheds light on the power and importance of storytelling, able to heal the storyteller, educate the listener, and heal the collective. “In its recounting through story the continued depths of racism and prejudice that Black women experience, as well as the model of strength Black women exhibit to continue to work productively in negative environments,” she says, “BlackFemaleProject reaffirms my personal sense of self-confidence.” We are humbled to be able to restore such integral and valuable feelings in brilliant Black women like Nicole.

Processing and sharing her own story provided Nicole with  some of the healing she’s experienced relative to the toll oppression has taken on her journey. On this topic, she says, “When dealing with racism, sexism, any type of injustice and bias, it is helpful to give voice to hear and release the pain and confusion.” This experience of catharsis on a personal level is just one of the positive outcomes that results from BlackFemaleProject storytelling, the powers of which extend far beyond the individual. As Nicole recounts, sharing our stories also arms the reader with more information, “so they can avoid or at least temper the pain and confusion they may feel in such a situation.”

It is precisely this dual effect that makes the work of BlackFemaleProject so potent. While the focused intention of healing ourselves through storytelling inevitably results in better educating our communities, it simultaneously gives back to the giver, the storyteller, the Black woman. “It reaffirms my faith in the power of Black females,” Nicole shares. “It reaffirms my unquestionable faith in Black females to change the world.”

We hope you’ll join us on our journey as we change the world, one story and one conversation at a time.

Dr. Nicole Norfles facilitates Council for Opportunity in Education’s (COE) STEM Community of Practice; is co-Principal Investigator on multiple National Science Foundation grants; directs and coordinates multiple U.S. Department of Education grants; and directs COE’s Onboarding Professional Development and TRIO Chicago Collaborative. She previously served as Education Program Officer with the Oprah Winfrey Foundation; Policy Consultant with Casey Family Programs; Special Assistant to the founding President of COE; and Fellow at the Pell Institute. She co-taught a Michigan State University South Africa study abroad course; a Drexel University online leadership course; and George Washington University courses in educational foundations, leadership, and supervision. Dr. Norfles presents at numerous national and international conferences, and serves on multiple boards; she received her doctorate from The George Washington University.


Member Spotlight: April Fenall


When April Fenall first crossed paths with BlackFemaleProject Founder Precious J. Stroud, she was a business owner in the process of learning how to tell her own story in a compelling way; connecting to our storytelling project was timely and serendipitous. “I was excited to be a part of a project that focused on empowering and creating a space for Black women to have a voice,” April shares.

April is a survivor. A Bay Area native, mother, stepmother, and entrepreneur, April has persisted through significant barriers, missteps she’s made in her past, and trauma inflicted on her at the hands of others. She has overcome experiences with sexual abuse and domestic violence, substance abuse, and incarceration, and navigates life with a disability. Like all of our BlackFemaleProject contributors, April refuses to be defined by her circumstances and challenges. “I am living my best life and empowering those that are ready to change their narrative,” she says. By extracting the wisdom available from her journey and focusing on possibilities, April is thriving on the entrepreneurial path she has forged for herself.  

Her connection to BlackFemaleProject—as a participant and inaugural leadership team member—has played a major role in getting her to this point. The connection has been fruitful in a technical sense, as April says that working on the Project and watching its growth over the years “has provided a great template to follow in growing [her] own businesses and social media presence.” Since her first exposure to BlackFemaleProject, she has transformed what was once an idea into a thriving and successful business: PiikUp is an innovative and socially responsible delivery hub for businesses, employing and supporting people who face barriers to employment.

Beyond the technical, though, the women who make BlackFemaleProject what it is have provided April with invaluable interpersonal benefits that can only come about through the support of powerful community. She says she’s gained “a sense of belonging to a special group of women who are fighters and have found their voice,” remedying feelings of isolation, and points out that it was a fellow BlackFemaleProject sister who talked her through her plans to confront her mother’s abuser, a loaded and life-changing step to take. The relationships April’s developed through our community have been, in her words, “inspiring, supporting, and caring.” What’s more, this sense of support that April has received has come in different forms, not just from in-person relationship building. She speaks to the benefits she’s gained from listening to our podcasts and reading written content as well, pointing to several specific pieces in which she’s found reflection and affirmation. We are so happy to be able to lift up the remarkable stories of our sisters and that the various formats we offer can have this level of impact within our immediate community and beyond.

These things and more encouraged April to join the #100SistersStrong movement by supporting the Project through membership. If you haven’t already, we hope you’ll consider doing the same!


April Fenall is a business professional with a background in Marketing and Communications bringing over 15 years of broad experience working in the retail and service industries and across multiple college campuses in Sacramento. She received a B.A. degree in Intercultural Communications from California State University Sacramento.

She is also the founder of Piikup, a socially responsible delivery hub in the Bay Area that supports food, retail and other businesses with local logistics support. Created in 2015 as part of the solution to strengthen communities and empower and uplift people who are not only looking to change their narrative in need of a first chance and often second chance, but also to help them level up in their technical skills so that they can gain the type of employment that will sustain them.

In her spare time, you can find April mentoring entrepreneurs in the early stages of starting a business or teaching adult learners how to use 21st-century applications needed in the Bay Area and job markets of the future.

Connect with April on LinkedIn.