NC JUSTICE NEWS: Meet the Staff + Your Voice, Your Vote + NC Policy Watch's 10th Anniversary

October 21, 2014

MEET THE STAFF: Jan Nichols, Chief Technology Officer

Jan Nichols, the NC Justice Center's Chief Technology Officer since 2000, started out her career in technical production, first in theater and then in television. She moved to North Carolina in 1987 to work in public television before switching her focus to women’s issues at NC Equity. It refocused her on social equality, but she says the interest had always been there.

“When I was at NC Equity and working with coalitions, one thing we talked about was how we got into social justice,” Jan recalls. “I grew up in the 60s. It wasn’t a conscious thing, it was just a value. I wasn’t necessarily that active when I was working in theater but I always knew where I stood on the issues.”

Jan grew up in Manhattan during the era of integration and busing, and can remember striking for the right to wear pants at school. The New York City teacher’s strike of 1968 kept her out of school for two months. Seminal moments in history like the draft, as well as the March on Washington and vigils after the Kent State shootings – both of which she attended – shaped her social consciousness.

Jan was always more comfortable working at organizations that focused on those very values that supported her interest in social justice. NC Equity partnered with the NC Justice Center at one point, and when the CTO position opened up, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine her interest in social justice and technical skills. “Policy is important but the next step is how you activate, put things into place,” Jan says.

Jan's passion for activism bled into her home life as well. Jan lives in Chatham County, where at one point county commissioners were approving every development that came their way, which could have directly and negatively impacted Chatham’s farming community.

“A strong group of people felt we needed a better process, and we were on our way to growing without any real strategy plan or concern for quality of life,” Jan says. “At a public meeting, county commissioners said, ‘If you don’t like we’re doing, vote us out.’ So that’s what we did.”

It was the beginning of Jan’s interest in local politics, which she says are more important than ever. “Local elections in counties and towns have incredible impacts on your daily life,” she says. “A lot of things you might not be happy with start there. Who’s in office matters.”

Jan also caught the farm bug thanks to Chatham’s robust farming community and local food initiative, as well as trips she would take to working dairy farms in upstate New York when she was a kid. At various points her home has hosted turkeys and goats, and at the moment Jan has 40 chickens, four geese, Cayuga ducks, two Great Pyrenees, a shepherd mix, and six short-hair cats – all happily frolicking on her 10-acres of Chatham County land. Thanks to Jan’s and others' work in the local community, the land is well protected.

You can support Jan's work and the rest of the NC Justice Center by making a donation today.

YOUR VOICE, YOUR VOTE: Make sure you're informed on Election Day

Election Day is just two weeks away. There's no better time to make sure that 1) you're registered to vote and 2) that you have the information you need to make an informed decision at the ballot box.

The North Carolina Justice Center released the "Your Voice, Your Vote" series in advance of the mid-term elections. Learn more about the real challenges facing North Carolina and how best to ask 2014 candidates on what they intend to do about these crucial issues.

This week we're highlighting Barriers to Economic Security, particularly the example of the NC General Assembly's decision to eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This credit went to the families of nearly 1.2 million children whose working mothers and fathers earned low wages. The credit let these parents keep more of what they earned so they could pay the bills and cover the costs of child-rearing.

Throughout the state, Tar Heel families are still struggling to recover from the recession. There aren’t enough jobs available for all of the people looking for work, and more than half of the new jobs created are in low-paying industries like food service and retail. The EITC gave Tar Heel workers a desperately needed boost in earnings and economic security. Plus, it pumped $108 million into local economies.

Watch the most recent video from our series on how the EITC has helped North Carolina families. You can also learn more about what questions to ask candidates about state tax revenue and public investments at this link.

IMMIGRATION: Tell the White House to take action on administrative relief

More than 1,000 immigrants are separated from their families and communities every day because of deportations. The Obama administration has the legal and moral authority to prevent tomorrow’s citizens from suffering the consequences of political inaction. This suffering is unnecessary, and there are many tangible steps the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) can, and should, implement immediately to prevent discrimination and racial profiling, reduce family separation, and build healthier, more prosperous American communities.

Expanding Administrative Relief: The Department of Homeland Security can exercise its power and legal authority to grant administrative relief to allow non-U.S. citizens to lawfully remain in the U.S. and obtain work permits. This can be done by granting a reprieve from deportation with work authorization to every person who has ties to the U.S. and expanding the DACA program to include more people, among other forms of relief.

Enforcement Reforms: Such reforms include making prosecutorial discretion and parental interest memos meaningful for individuals; strengthening due process and human rights protections in detention; ensuring that worksite enforcement does not undermine immigrants’ labor and civil rights; ensuring anti-retaliation protections; ending the use of detainers and harmful programs such as Secure Communities and 287(g), as well as all other ICE ACCESS programs that undermine public safety and community security; and banning the mining of state criminal justice and driver’s license systems for immigration enforcement.

The administration could also reform border enforcement by ending the Operation Streamline program, rolling back U.S. Custom and Border Patrol's (CBP) claimed 100-mile authority, implementing short-term custody standards for CBP holding facilities, and ensuring rescue beacons and water stations are placed throughout the border region.

EDUCATIONAL FORUM: Join the Health Access Coalition in Scotland Neck

As the Affordable Care Act is being implemented in our state, North Carolina lawmakers have blocked the Medicaid program from being expanded. This means that 500,000 working adults will remain uninsured in 2014.
Join in the conversation with the NC Justice Center, Sen. Angela Bryant and community partners on Tuesday, October 28, to discuss:

  • the benefits of the Affordable Care Act
  • how Medicaid expansion would help your community
  • implementation of the online marketplace, including Special Enrollment Period opportunities

There will also be a special guest speaker from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The event, hosted by Sen. Bryant, will be held at the Scotland Neck Senior Center of Excellence at 1403 Church Street in Scotland Neck. Click here to register, or call or email to reserve your place: Sen. Angela Bryant (919-733-5878, or Nicole Dozier (919-856-2146,

SAVE THE DATE: NC Policy Watch celebrates its 10th anniversary on Dec. 8

Mark your calendars for a special upcoming event from NC Policy Watch.

It’s hard to believe, but it has been 10 years since NC Policy Watch was born to counter the state’s large, well-funded conservative “think tanks” that were increasingly dominating the state public policy debate and to hold the politicians who did their bidding accountable. NC Policy Watch is having a party to mark the 10th anniversary of fighting for a better North Carolina. Come celebrate!

Join NC Policy Watch's three co-hosts – former Governor Jim Hunt, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue and Capitol Broadcasting CEO Jim Goodmon – as sponsors of our 10th anniversary celebration on Monday, December 8, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., at The Stockroom in Downtown Raleigh. Click here for more information. Tickets will be on sale soon.

WEBINARS: Learn more about latest unemployment numbers, living wage

Join the NC Justice Center for two informative upcoming webinars.

Thursday, October 23: Are you wondering how North Carolina’s economy and labor market is doing and how it affects your work and your community? Join the Budget & Tax Center for our monthly labor market webinar briefing. The Division of Employment Security will release the latest data (from September) on North Carolina’s labor market this week. We will hold our monthly webinar to discuss the data and what it means for all of us on Thursday, October 23rd at 4:00 p.m. EDT. Register for the webinar here.

Monday, November 10: Join the NC Justice Center for a webinar to hear and discuss issues related to ensuring a living wage for more North Carolinians. Get the latest on what a living wage is in North Carolina counties, how the state legislature has addressed this issue, and what local communities can do to promote better wages in their cities and counties. The webinar will be held on Monday, November 10, at 11:00 a.m. EDT. Register at this link.

After registering for either webinar, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

JOIN OUR TEAM: Employment opportunities at the NC Justice Center

The North Carolina Justice Center is the state’s leading research and advocacy organization dedicated to transforming North Carolina’s prosperity into opportunity for all. Our staff includes researchers, community educators, litigators, lobbyists and communication specialists who work across a broad range of issues that impact the lives of poor and working families.

We currently have two job openings:

To apply, send a cover letter, resume and professional references as a single PDF that has your name in its filename to with the title of the position in the subject line of the email.


Research & Publications: