Emily Nixon pays it forward – Local works with food pantry

Emily Nixon moved to Key West from New England for a temporary, one-year position with Star of the Sea (SOS) Foundation. More than four years later, she’s the deputy director at the foundation and has zero plans on leaving. “At this point, I don’t think I could even survive a winter,” she said. 

She’s passionate about SOS and the gaps that nonprofits fill in the community. “Nonprofits are a way to give back for everything that has been given to me,” she said. “At no doing of my own, I was blessed with so many things easily taken for granted: an amazing family, access to education, positive role models, my health, the list goes on.”

Nixon explained that the system doesn’t always work in everyone’s favor. “Nonprofits are a way to ‘pay it forward’ for the opportunities I have been fortunate enough to have,” she said. “I work with incredible people, doing a job I truly believe in, at an organization that I’m proud to be associated with.”

Her favorite part, “and, it allows me to live here. What’s not to love?” 

Coming off being presented one of the 2018 Rooster Awards at this year’s Key West People’s Choice “Bubba” awards, she was adamant that next year SOS will win the Bubba for best nonprofit: “Mark my words, SPCA!

We wanted to know more about what makes Nixon tick. 

Nickname? Em-o 

One fun fact about you? I can balance anything on the top of my head, and I have a twin brother.

Like what have you balanced? Riskiest things have included my laptop, bottle of champagne, full pizza box. 

What’s the most rewarding project you’ve worked on? SOS’s Child Nutrition Program, which serves free summer and after school meals to children throughout the Keys. 

What does success look like? Leaving my corner of the Earth just a little bit better than I found it.

You might have the most interesting college mascot. Was is it? We are the “Spitting” Camels. (Bachelor’s in environmental science from Connecticut College.)

What was your first job? Grocery store check-out girl. On my first day, I watched a boy who was collecting carts get a running start, attempt to hop on the back of a cart, slip, tear both ACLs, and chip his tailbone. It must have been some type of record for most dramatic grocery-store related injury.

Dream meal: you are sitting at a diner counter eating…who walks in and sits next to you? Ellen DeGeneres, and we order Maine lobster. 

Favorite Keysy thing to do? Would I even live in the Keys if I didn’t say boat day? And sunrises. 

Which TV or movie character is your alter ego? Dottie Hinson from “A League of their Own.” She’s my fave.

What would your superpower be? Teleport. I guess that is kind of a selfish superpower.

Best piece of advice you ever received? Nothing is worth it if you aren’t happy.

What is your nerdiest passion? Reading maps. I hate not knowing where I’m going, and I hate when Google maps tells me to head south … left or right.

If you could take one item on a deserted island, what? Bug spray. Any mosquito within a 5-mile radius finds me and loves on me.

What was your first thought this morning? Coffee. Then “Is this workout really going to happen?”

Speaking of workout, you’re jacked, what’s your workout schedule like? It varies, but right now, I’m on a running kick. (She’s also an AYSO girl’s soccer coach.)

Favorite guilty pleasure? Watching horrible, wretched, trashy reality TV shows.

If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you do? Fly my closest friends, family, and a financial planner to the Maldives.

What’s on your bucket list? Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, and a South America backpack trip with my sister. 

If you could change the world, what would you do? Essentially the opposite of what the current administration’s EPA is doing. Climate change is a thing. I hope that’s not too political.

Favorite place you’ve traveled to? The Galapagos Islands.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A firefighter. Now, I just ogle at them from afar.

Finish these sentences…

Tom Callahan, executive director of SOS, would describe me as … a procrastinating perfectionist. But it’s not my fault I work better under pressure.  

My autobiography would be titled … “What Is Your Favorite Dog Breed? And Life’s Other Difficult Questions.”

Key West is like … a melted, salty box of chocolates.

I live by the motto … Keep showing up! It’s my favorite quote from Boston Marathon winner Des Linden.

Kristen Livengood
Kristen Livengood is a Marathon High School and University of South Florida grad, mom of two beautiful little girls, and wife to some cute guy she met in a bar. She enjoys red wine, Tito's, Jameson, running (very, very slowly), and spearfishing.