Viacom’s Sarah Nix Is HERE to Give Back to Her Community

She grew up as a Girl Scout and a Special Olympics volunteer whose father donated to United Way and passed his spare change to panhandlers on family trips into Manhattan from suburban Sleepy Hollow, New York. As an adult, she set up charity galas, helped manage amfAR’s silent auction to benefit HIV prevention, and joined the planning board for the National Hemophilia Foundation’s silent auction, Denim and Diamonds.
Still, something was missing from this life of community engagement. “You don’t have the direct service element,” said Nix.

So when Nix joined Viacom in 2004, she immediately began participating in Viacommunity Day projects. Here she found a hands-in-the-dirt way to help people directly. She made care packages for soldiers. In 2011 she assisted the New York-based nonprofit retail store and health center Housing Works during their annual Design on a Dime charity event. She volunteered with the All Star Project the following two years, helping underprivileged New York City teenagers learn life skills through improv.

All Stars VDay 2013
All Stars VDay 2013
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Nix relished the chance to volunteer offsite at the All Star Project for Viacommunity Day 2013. Read More

All Stars VDay 2014
All Stars VDay 2014
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Nix at the All Star Project for Viacommunity Day 2014. Read More

Family to Family 2016
Family to Family 2016
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In 2016, Nix got involved with the nonprofit group, Family to Family. Read More

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ViacommunityDay2016_GraceInstitute134
Stuart Stuart

Nix and her team at the Grace Institute for Viacommunity Day 2016. Read More

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ViacommunityDay2016_GraceInstitute81
Stuart Stuart

Nix and her team at the Grace Institute for Viacommunity Day 2016. Read More

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ViacommunityDay2016_GraceInstitute93
Stuart Stuart

HERE volunteers during the marketing challenge at V-Day 2016. Read More

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ViacommunityDay2016_GraceInstitute107
Stuart Stuart

HERE and the Grace Institute clients showing off their creative marketing posters at V-Day 2016. Read More

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ViacommunityDay2016_GraceInstitute109
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Nix and her winning team at the Grace Institute's marketing challenge. Read More

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HERE3
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The members of HERE get together to spread social justice. Read More

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ViacommunityDay2016_GraceInstitute6
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Nix helps plan a Viacommunity Day event. Read More

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ViacommunityDay2016_GraceInstitute64
Stuart Stuart

Another marketing poster from HERE's Grace Institute challenge. Read More

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ViacommunityDay2016_GraceInstitute72
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Nix at the Grace Institute for V-Day 2016. Read More

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ViacommunityDay2016_GraceInstitute79
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The audience was captivated by HERE's presentation. Read More

But Nix really found a purpose with HERE, our employee resource group that advocates for all Viacom women and champions the interests of women in our community and abroad. Nix joined HERE in 2014, intrigued by the idea of a community for women executives. “I thought it would be a great way to connect,” said Nix. “I’ve met women from the company I never would have integrated with.”

She runs the group’s Viacommunity section of the outreach division, which is responsible for internal and external networking. When she began working with HERE, they were looking to have a Viacommunity Day Presence. Nix took the lead.

The ERG’s inaugural Viacommunity Day event was held in conjunction with Rose House Shelter at Safe Horizon, a local domestic violence shelter for women, in 2015. It turned out that what Rose House clients needed most was business advice on resume writing, interview skills, even how to dress – all things that HERE’s volunteers were immensely familiar with. “These are women who have had to leave their living situation very little prep,” explained Nix. “Many have not worked in a true business environment.”

Inspired by the success of the wardrobe presentation, Nix organized a HERE business-wear clothing drive for Safe Horizon in the fall of 2015, and adopted one of their shelters a few months later for Christmas. They collected donations from fellow employees at 1515 Broadway—gift cards for 25 mothers, and kids for 50 children. “I’m really into spreadsheets,” joked Nix. “But it helps.”

Her learned-on-the-job organizational skills have actually proven vital to her volunteer work. As Viacom’s director of global governance, tasked with managing Viacom’s archives, among other curatorial duties, order is one of her specialties. In college, Nix worked a slew of customer service jobs, including retail and taking orders at a deli. These jobs cemented Nix’s dexterity in her professional and humanitarian endeavors. “People skills, organization, and multitasking play directly into the volunteer work I’ve done,” said Nix.

In addition to her Viacommunity and HERE efforts, Nix continues to volunteer outside of the company. “I find opportunities to get involved by signing up for the mayor’s newsletter,” explained Nix, who lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. In the winter of 2016 Nix read about a nonprofit called Family to Family, which aims to end hunger and poverty. She signed up to sponsor a family in New Orleans. “I still wanted to engage further,” said Nix.

In March, Nix fused her outside volunteering with Viacommunity, bringing a Family to Family initiative to Viacom for HERE’s Women’s History Month. For Bath Packs for Flint, HERE members solicited donations and assembled care packages of bath-related products to donate to residents affected by the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

On the most recent Viacommunity Day, Nix led a 15-person HERE team that partnered with The Grace Institute, a nonprofit employment center, meeting with 60 women aged 18-65 to give career advice. The women asked about everything from how to become a screenwriter to how HERE members had handled (or experienced) sexual or ethnic harassment at work. “I was glad she felt safe enough to ask that question,” said Nix. “I think she felt heard.”

Although some employees may not have the flexibility to join an ERG, Nix says there are always ways to volunteer. “Absolutely sign up for a Viacommunity Day event,” said Nix. She advises employees to look for onsite opportunities like the Viacommunity Call-A-Thon, or to find a cause they’re passionate about and sign up for an off-site activity like landscaping, or walking dogs.

Nix relishes the opportunity to work at a place that values altruism as much as she does. She’s proud of the progress Viacommunity has made since she started working here. “I love that it’s expanded from a single day to many diverse opportunities throughout the year.”

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