Prison reentry is a topic that many people are not familiar with because it simply has not touched their lives. However, Nikki Zaahir has had a passion for this industry and worked faithfully to further the opportunities for ex-convicts for almost ten years. Formerly, a government employee, this Maryland native has spent a good portion of her occupational life in managerial positions.

Noted for her exceptional organizational and planning skills, Nakkia obtained some of those stripes as a Quality Management Officer for the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1996 to 1998. Her management experience extends to her work as a former Corporate Representative Department Manager at America Works from 2006 to 2015. In this position she began working with ex-offenders as well as welfare-to-work clientele to facilitate their transferable life skills and assist them in maintaining employment.

After interviewing with Vehicles for Change (VFC) for another position in July of 2014, Nakkia— a mother of three—so impressed VFC’s President Martin Schwartz, that he decided to hire her to head up the automotive garage slated to open the following year. True to his word, he hired Ms. Zaahir as the Director of Reentry Automotive Internship Opportunities at Vehicles for Change the following January, where she took on the challenge of building the organization’s new auto repair shop, Full Circle Service Center, from the ground up.

Even though the field of auto-mechanics was unfamiliar, Nakkia still dove in and seized the opportunity to make sure the shop was completely up to OSHA and MOSH safety requirements, all while fielding applications for the first group of Full Circle interns that would represent the six-month automotive prison reentry internship program. A motivational leader in her own right, Ms. Zaahir uses her high level of oral, written and interpersonal communications skills to advocate for matters concerning prison reentry.