Marlene Morrison Nicholls has been operating as an insurance broker in Kawartha Lakes since 1976. Her story and the reason for her continued community involvement, however, starts years before this.
Morrison Nicholls’ father, Stewart Morrison, established his first office in Sunderland in 1976. Under his name, Stewart Morrison Insurance grew, and so did the family’s drive for their community.
“He believed that volunteering and helping people was important,” explains Morrison Nicholls. The now president of the firm says that her father’s message during that time was to “support the people that support you.”
As her business grew and so did her network, Morrison Nicholls discovered that there was still a lot of work to do to make Lindsay the vibrant place she envisioned. “It’s hard to ignore when you see a need and you have the ability to change things,” she says.
From the Lindsay District Chamber of Commerce, to the Lindsay Curling Club, the list of her company’s sponsorships and volunteer commitments has grown to 44 in 2018 alone.
Being a mother of three, Morrison Nicholls has found herself invested in the community not only for the sake of her business, but for her family as well. “I wanted them to grow up in a community that was vibrant and safe and kind and inclusive.”
After learning that people of colour and international students visiting Lindsay were faced with adversity from other business owners and community members, Morrison Nicholls spearheaded the Diversity Initiative, receiving a unanimous acceptance from City Council. This initiative aims to educate business owners about the benefits of creating a more diverse city.
Her work with the Chamber of Commerce has not only given back to the community, but also served as a networking opportunity for her company.
“You see people with their sleeves rolled up and working hard and it’s a good way to recruit people for my own business,” says Morrison Nicholls.
However, not all networking opportunities are the same. After helping to bring an LGBTQ+ pride event to Lindsay, Morrison Nicholls says that advocacy events like these are not appropriate for advertising.
“If [a business’s] intentions are clear, self-promotion is never a priority,” she says.
Despite her experience with community involvement, Morrison Nicholls says that social advocacy does not come naturally. Instead, she encourages other members of the community to open themselves to learning experiences.
“I’m learning every day,” she says.
“You just have to stand up for what you know is right.”