FOUNDERS KEYNOTE: WATCHDOGS
"I was just your average mom. And then, my kids got poisoned at school."
Today, it’s hard to meet anyone who hasn’t experienced a negative event in their life or community – but how many of those people have used that event to fuel meaningful change?
What if you could be one of those people?
Community stakeholders come in all shapes and sizes – students, parents, voters, employers, elected officials, journalists – but no matter what group we fall into, we all have one thing in common: we’re all everyday people.
Many of us believe we’re not responsible for the well-being of anyone outside of our own bubble. Nikki James Zellner, founder of CO Safe Schools, believes that needs to change.
In this provocative and humorous keynote, Nikki will make hearts race and minds change as she shares her journey from everyday mom to activist and law changer, revealing why we're all accountable for being watchdogs in our communities.
Without a doubt, audiences will return to the world motivated to move from slacktivist to change maker–starting in their own backyard.
CO Safe Schools
in the media
Many people say I've made this journey from average mom to activist look easy. That couldn't be further from the truth. But...
The carbon monoxide conversation should be happening at every school, in every community, across the U.S.
I would be honored to share this story with your audience, so that people understand the issue, the risk, and the steps they can take to make a change in their own community.
Use our story as a tool – as the "best case scenario" of turning a really traumatic, and preventable event, and showing what can happen when a community takes accountability and comes together for change.
Origin story: Carbon monoxide leaked for hours at a Virginia Beach daycare. Parents were shocked that detectors aren't required.
February 28, 2020 – The original Sunday front page news article that appeared in both the Virginian-Pilot and the Daily Press, publications of Tribune Media and two of Virginia's largest circulation newspapers.
April 20, 2020 – Editorial board of Tribune Media (both Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press) issue legislative call to action in their Sunday Opinion page, supporting Zellner's Change.org petition and request for CO laws in VA to be changed in support of safer schools
May 23, 2020 – Media profile of Nikki James Zellner in WeAreTheMighty.com, who was becoming an activist for CO safety after her children were poisoned in February 2020. We Are the Mighty has over 1.5 million military-passionate followers on social media.
February 3, 2021 – Upon introduction of the carbon monoxide legislation introduced by Del. Alex Askew into Virginia's legislative session, the heat was on lawmakers when Virginia Media publications did a follow-up article on the progress made since the daycare poisoning took place.
February 22, 2021 – Exactly one year after our children's daycare was poisoned, Virginia lawmakers of both chambers were nearly unanimous in their decision to approve HB1823, pushing the CO detector law through for Gov. Northam's signature.
February 26, 2021 – Military.com, the most read military publication in the US, publishes a feature on the success Zellner's Virginia CO legislation – and the challenges that still lay ahead for rolling changes out on a national level.
March 23, 2021 – Virginia Media publishes an editorial in the Sunday opinion section once the Virginia legislation is signed by Gov. Ralph Northam. It applauds the efforts of the cooperation between citizen, journalism, public servants and legislators to correct the system and protect citizens of the Commonwealth.
April 12, 2021 – Zellner gives her first candid, hour-long audio interview on what life has been like since her children's school CO poisoning, the direction her life has taken as it relates to CO advocacy and activism, and offers insights into CO education for parents, teachers.
September 3, 2021 – In her largest interview to date, Nikki joins hosts Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers of Pantsuit Politics in a candid interview about "why doing the work matters" if you want to see real change in areas that are often overlooked, but matter to you personally. Pantsuit Politics was awarded as one of Apple's Podcasts of the Year in 2021.
October 12, 2022 – After a carbon monoxide tragedy strikes a Lehigh Valley daycare, Nikki speaks with reporter Rob Manch on how parents can become advocates and take the lead in creating safer daycares.
CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell: Cases of CO in schools, daycares prompts reviews of state laws
October 19, 2022 – After two separate CO incidents in schools and daycares making national headlines in October 2022, Nikki was invited to share her story and her advocacy approach on the national CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell