Reflections from Nikki's colleagues at Connecticut Veterans Legal Center
After almost a decade of service to veterans as a paralegal for Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, Nikki Kelsey is leaving to join the team at the VA. We are beyond grateful for Nikki’s contributions, and we are proud to continue to call her a friend. As Nikki transitions to the next stage of her career, we are sharing some thoughts from some of the people who had the pleasure of working with her.
Chelsea Donaldson, Supervising Attorney, VA Benefits:
“Nikki has truly been the backbone of the legal department. Not only that, she handled each and every case she worked on with a personal motivation to get things done for the veterans she served. She made something like record collection turn into a meaningful victory for the veteran. She has often been the driving force between proving something happened and not – which has won countless VA cases. She has validated so many stories for so many veterans. We would not have the VA win rate that we do without Nikki.”
Mary-Christy Fisher, Senior Counsel, Civil Legal:
How does one sum up almost 9 years of being Nikki Kelsey’s colleague? Even before I met her, I received a series of emails from one of her former co-workers singing her praises. And, those praises have continued – from her colleagues – past and present, our many clients, and our VA partners (who she will shortly join), as well as from the pro bono attorneys, law students, and other volunteers who she willingly assisted throughout the years.
At the center of a program that spans the State sits Nikki, helping to oversee Connecticut Veterans Legal Center’s legal work while also adding positively to our personality. Whether she is reviewing (or helping compose) client briefs, checking details from footnotes to deadlines to postage, teaching other staff how to manage the ever-changing technological challenges we confront, or by representing Connecticut Veterans Legal Center in her day-to-day interactions with veterans as well as sitting on the VA’s Mental Health Advisory Committee – in countless ways Nikki has strengthened our program and the quality of the work we all produce.
Nikki knew she was right for the job, when she composed her cover letter back in September 2014. She mentioned her willingness to be part of a busy office, ready to do just about everything to make a workplace successful. She closed her letter by accurately stating she has “a positive attitude which is so important when working with people in need of assistance who may have emotional and personal difficulties.”
From her first day in West Haven until this week, Nikki has exhibited that positive attitude and has been a true asset. All our love as you start your next professional chapter!
Eva Puorro, Attorney, VA Benefits:
“Nikki was the heart and soul of the VA Benefit Unit. Her approach to every task demonstrated her deep commitment to supporting veterans and overcoming the obstacles thrown in their way to obtain the benefits they deserve. Her personal mission to perform every task to the best of her ability made us all better in our approach to our work and directly impacted our clients in so many ways. I am grateful to have worked with her and to have seen her impact on so many she helped.”
Alden Pinkham, Staff Attorney and Policy Analyst:
“When I think of Nikki the phrase that comes to mind is “safety net.” She is so experienced and detail-oriented, that whether it was filing a form with VA or a motion in court, Nikki’s second set of eyes on everything improved all of our filings to clients. Additionally, she treated our veterans with constant kindness, and I believe helped make the process of working with a lawyer as easy and non-intimidating for them as she possibly could.”
Juliet Taylor, Intake and Program Access Specialist:
“Nikki is always kind and helpful. She represents a level of commitment to excellence and selfless service that makes me so very proud to be a part of this organization and also to be her friend. It’s been an honor to work with her, and I’m grateful for all the knowledge and skills she shared with me. Nikki has been an amazing mentor and I’m going to miss our chats and laughs. Her expertise, creativity, and leadership have made a significant impact on me professionally and personally. I love you, Nikki.”
As Connecticut Veterans Legal Center grows to serve more veterans across the state, we are looking for new members to join our organization. Learn more about open positions at ctveteranslegal.org/jobs.