What does officiating at a wedding have in common with counseling inmates, lobbying on Capitol Hill, and advising young seminarians? They all appear regularly on Sam Nixon’s schedule.
“Each of [the activities] has a common theme of how to help other people improve the quality of their lives,” says Nixon, who’s been an ordained Baptist minister since 1989. “That’s what I’m engaged in–delivering services or helping people get services that improve their lives.”
Nixon has also dedicated significant energy to combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Since the mid-1990s, he has worked with an organization called Lott Carey International, which helps overseas churches and community groups provide resources for HIV/AIDS education and treatment. He participated in the 2006 Global AIDS Conference in South Africa and, more recently, coauthored a letter to the Obama administration urging more funding for AIDS relief.
Nixon says that his broad commitment to helping others “has been there since the early days at MIT.” A management major, he took part in Bible study and Black Christian Fellowship and then branched out to coördinate events and workshops off campus for the Boston Intercollegiate Christian Fellowship. He drove people to services in church vans and recorded sermons to air on a weekly radio program he produced.
After MIT, Nixon worked briefly in the financial services and regulatory industries. By the late 1980s, he was increasingly drawn to civil-rights and ministerial work. He earned a master’s degree in divinity from Harvard in 1991 and then began teaching in that school’s Afro-American Studies Department. From there, he went on to direct programs at the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the Congress of National Black Churches, both in Washington, DC.
“I’m thankful for much of the work I’ve done,” says Nixon, “and now, at this stage in my life, I’m starting to think about the creation of an organization of my own that would be dedicated to public service around the globe. Ideally, it would be an umbrella organization that would render health and social services, education, and capacity development.”
Nixon lives in Alexandria, VA. In his scant spare time, he enjoys writing poetry, traveling, walking, and playing chess.