A Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 co-educational independent day school in Westchester County, New York

Alumni Profile: Alumni Executive Board President Nicole Jackson Fanjul ’02, P'33

When new Alumni Executive Board President Nicole (Jackson) Fanjul ’02, P'33 arrived at Rye Country Day in the fall of 1998, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Her older brother Paul ’00 was already a student, and a few years after Nicole successfully matriculated, their younger sister Vanessa ’05 would also enroll. But Nicole was entering as a ninth grader with no previous connections, and she admits she was a bit nervous. “I was a prior public-school student, on financial aid, and one of only a few students of color at the time, so it was an adjustment,” she recalls. But the experience proved to be transformative, says Nicole. “Once I realized the strength of the School’s academic programs, as well as the many other social opportunities it offered, I was on board.”

Nicole leveraged her RCDS education to maximum advantage, subsequently earning her bachelor's degree in psychology from Duke University and her Doctor of Law degree from Harvard University. Upon graduating in 2009, she joined the American multinational law firm Latham & Watkins LLP as an associate, achieving partner status in 2019. She currently serves as NY Deputy Office Managing Partner and continues to distinguish herself. In July, she was named to Bloomberg Law’s “They’ve Got Next: The 40 Under 40" list for her achievements as a young attorney “who took the reins on key client matters early in their careers, earning the confidence of more senior attorneys at their organizations, and raising the bar in their work on behalf of their clients and communities.”

Looking back, says Nicole, it’s easy to see the benefits of her education, both at Rye Country Day and beyond. “The rigorous academic education I received at RCDS, Duke, and Harvard, and the people I met in various settings have all been quite influential in my journey.” It is these advantages that in more recent years moved Nicole to enroll her older son at RCDS as a kindergartner. He is now a proud member of the Class of 2033 in third grade!

Her experiences also led Nicole to reconnect personally with RCDS, first as a member of the Alumni Executive Board and now as its president. “As the years have passed, I’ve become more keenly aware of the many benefits I’ve enjoyed as a consequence of my time at Rye Country Day,” she observes. “It seemed silly of me not to be involved.”

As president of the Alumni Executive Board, Nicole is eager to enjoin alumni to reconnect as well. “I feel like we’re still transitioning back to reality in this post-COVID world—we’re just not as connected as we were pre-pandemic—and I want to address that,” she observes. “One of my main priorities as president is to identify new and creative ways for alumni to engage, or re-engage, with the school, even if virtually.”

Nicole is especially committed to strengthening the RCDS network so that all students thrive at and after RCDS. “Rye Country Day is a school filled with people who go on to do incredible things. Our alumni network is absolutely amazing and offers tremendous value to everyone who gets involved. It’s an ongoing benefit to every student and graduate."

“I think alumni can play a critical role in shaping a school’s reputation, visibility and impact,” continues Nicole. “The RCDS alumni community is an incredibly talented and impressive group of people, and I look forward to continuing to find ways to encourage that community to engage with the school and share their remarkable knowledge and experience and to expand opportunities available to current RCDS students.”

Nicole is also committed to increasing alumni support for students of color. “I think it’s particularly important for alumni of color to serve as resources for current students,” she notes. “I had my RCDS experience and now that I’m on the other side of it, I can see how I benefited, and I can appreciate how the school has grown and evolved. That evolution motivated me to reconnect with the institution.”

Nicole is confident she is up to the task. “As a student, I was always encouraged to stretch and try new things. That guidance positively shaped my belief in myself, especially my ability to be resourceful and resilient in the face of a challenge,” she observes. “At RCDS, I was trained to think for myself, and that lesson has served me well.”

In appreciation, Nicole is giving back to the institution that set her on the path to success. “Rye Country Day’s motto, Not for Self, but for Service, resonated when I was a student and now it’s part of the values I hope to instill in my own children,” she observes. “I want all RCDS students to appreciate the incredible opportunities they are being given, both academically and socially, and alumni engagement is an important element in sending and substantiating this message.”

For Nicole, taking on the role of Alumni Executive Board president is about finding ways to support the school that gave her so much. “I’m always trying to think of ways that I can utilize whatever position I’m in to serve the greater community,” she concludes. “Using my life in service is a big part of how I view the world and my role in it. Rye Country Day gave me this commitment to service, and I hope to encourage other alumni to join me in serving the School and its future generations”