Championing Awareness and Support for Brain Injury

March 22, 2024


By Dayne Hopkins

Since 2015, Nichole Shotwell has been at the forefront of advocacy, education, and support for individuals affected by brain injuries in Michigan. With a passion for aiding those with disabilities, her journey to becoming President and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI) is unique. 

A double graduate from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s in general studies and a master’s in social work, Shotwell initially embarked on a path toward a music career, fueled by her talent and early aspirations to become a professional harpist. However, a key moment during her undergraduate studies led her to discover a newfound passion for sociology and psychology, prompting a shift in focus toward a career dedicated to serving others.

Her transition from music to a career path focused on helping others was met with encouragement from her parents, who told her to go after what she wanted. This support, coupled with her experience working at a group home early on, strengthened her commitment to championing the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities.

At the helm of BIAMI, Shotwell leads initiatives aimed at raising awareness and providing essential support to those affected by brain injuries. Through advocacy efforts, educational programs, and community events, BIAMI continues to make significant strides in advancing its mission. Shotwell emphasizes the importance of dispelling misconceptions surrounding brain injuries, noting that awareness often comes too late for many individuals. 

“Despite notable events like the war in Iraq and organizations like the NFL shedding light on the issue, there remains a lot of work to be done in educating the public about the prevalence and impact of brain injuries”, said Shotwell.

Even amid challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Shotwell and BIAMI remain steadfast in their commitment to serving the community. The introduction of BIAMI Connects, a comprehensive program offering various support and wellness activities, underscores their dedication to accessibility and outreach, especially during times of crisis.

As March marks National Brain Injury Awareness Month, Shotwell encourages participation in the numerous events and initiatives organized by BIAMI and other like-minded organizations. Through collective efforts, she believes progress can be made in fostering greater understanding and support for individuals living with brain injuries.

Despite her demanding role, she remains connected to her passion for music, finding joy in playing the piano, while also helping her husband learn to play. Her journey is a testament to the power of following a passion that can lead to making a meaningful impact. To learn more about Nichole and her journey, readers can tune into the Concussion Headliner’s Podcast where she further discusses her involvement with BIAMI and talks about her path to success.

For those interested in learning more about BIAMI or seeking support for brain injuries, Shotwell invites them to explore the organization’s resources via their website, social media channels, or by reaching out directly.