Living the Law -- One Mayor's Experience at the Border

2020 Global Mobility and Immigration Symposium
Learn about the experiences and challenges of a border-state mayor.

In the fall of 2018, Yuma, Arizona, an agricultural city of about 100,000 people became the second-busiest crossing on the U.S.-Mexico border. Due to changes in policy and limitations of resources, by April of 2019, the Mayor of Yuma, Douglas Nicholls, was challenged with balancing his constituent concerns, meeting the demand of local businesses and the humanitarian needs of migrants. Hear directly from Mayor Nicholls about his efforts to work in partnership with federal, state and local authorities within the existing laws and regulations governing immigration and mobility. 

Learning Objectives:

  • The tie between immigration and business
  • The importance of multilateral collaboration
  • Immigration reform: What’s next?
Date(s) & Time(s): 
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 10:00am to 10:55am

Mayor Douglas J. Nicholls

Mayor Douglas J.

Douglas J. Nicholls is the 27th Mayor of the City of Yuma, Arizona. He began his second four-year term as Mayor in January 2018. Mayor Nicholls is committed to the Yuma community through his core belief that quality communities provide opportunities to success to all residents through quality jobs, superior education and robust quality of life.

Mayor Nicholls spearheads many efforts to enhance and grow the Yuma community, including serving as the Founder and Chairman of 4FrontED’s Governing Board. The 4FrontED effort is an economic development-focused governing board of regional mayors from the region that includes states near the U.S.-Mexico border. Together, they work collaboratively to maximize impact at the global forefront, representing a population of more than one million people.

His vision to enhance accessibility to higher education culminates in plans for the Yuma Multiversity Campus (YMC). Mayor Nicholls currently serves as Chairman of the YMC’s Governing Board which includes multi-disciplinary industry leaders from throughout the community who are working to develop a centralized campus in Yuma. The YMC will offer baccalaureate programs in full, utilizing the academic programs and specialties offered by the state universities and local community colleges.

Mayor Nicholls was appointed to the Military Affairs Committee by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. He serves as Treasurer of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns’ Executive Committee. In 2019, he was inducted into the Arizona State University (ASU) Academy of Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame for the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

Mayor Nicholls was raised in Yuma, Ariz., and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from ASU, before continuing post-baccalaureate studies in transportation engineering. In addition to his role as Mayor of Yuma, he is President/Owner of Core Engineering Group, an active Rotarian, a deacon at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, and a dedicated husband and father. Mayor Nicholls is married to Danette, his high school sweet heart, and the two have four children.


Emily M. Dickens, J.D.

Emily M.

Emily M. Dickens, J.D., serves as SHRM Chief of Staff, Head of Government Affairs & Corporate Secretary.  She is the executive responsible for coordinating staff to implement the CEO's vision, serving as corporate secretary for the SHRM Board and subsidiary boards, as well as managing external partnerships and providing oversight for the Government Affairs division.

Dickens is an attorney with significant and progressive experience in government, higher education and the non-profit sector. She has served as a member of the leadership team at the University of North Carolina system, the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Her prior roles include general counsel, chief relationship officer, senior vice president, vice president for public policy and assistant vice president for federal relations. Dickens has also worked at Duke University and Fayetteville State University in administrative and external affairs roles. 

Emily is actively engaged in board service. She formerly served on the Fayetteville/Cumberland (NC) Chamber of Commerce (Secretary of the Board), the Cumberland County Workforce Development Board, the North Carolina Partnership for Defense Innovation Board, and the Educational Advancement Foundation. She is currently a member of the Advisory Council of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the Advisory Board of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Carolina Central University, and chairs the International HBCU Task Force for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

She is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and North Carolina Central University School of Law. 

Emily is a member of the SHRM Speakers Bureau.

Session Type: 
General Session
Intended Audience: 
All Levels
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