Meet Pamela Nichols: The Busy Body Helping to Put an End to Distracted Driving

Pam Nichols

Pamela Nichols is busy—and she prefers it that way. “I’m a say yes person,” she said. Nichols is a trial lawyer by day: she not only practices law and manages the firm, but has been a partner at O’Connell and Aronowitz since 1997.

With the rest of her time, Nichols promotes presentations, participates in Albany’s Downtown Business Improvement District (BID), owns seven nursing homes with her family, runs half marathons, and is a mother of four.

Because all of this isn’t enough, Nichols recently organized a “Guest Bartending Event” at Bellini’s Italian Eatery in Albany, New York which helped raise $1,000 to the Casey Feldman Foundation. Bellini’s is owned by her brother-in-law, Joe Marrello. Namas Car Services also volunteered to drive people home from the event.

“I don’t have any bartending experience, but I waitressed in college,” Nichols said. Nichols is a Fordham Rose Hill alumna and has always kept busy. “My dad didn’t want me to work during school, and I never told him that I did” she said. Her jobs varied from part-time on campus to an advertising agency, to waitressing.

“It’s really funny – to this day I don’t think he knew how many jobs I had.”

Nichols looks back on her brief experience in hospitality fondly, “I was so excited to do it again.”

Nichols first got involved with the Casey Feldman Foundation after listening to our co-founder, Joel Feldman, give an End Distracted Driving presentation at a Trial Lawyer Association Conference in Arizona.

“I listened to his presentation and realized I was the worst driver in the world. I felt like he outted me,” she remembers.

“He had us raise our hands: ‘How many of you text and drive?’ I put my hand up. ‘Keep your hand up if you do it with your kids in the car.’ And I kept my hand up,” Nichols said.
“And that was it. I was going to volunteer and do this program.”

Since getting her firm involved with the our foundation, O’Connell and Aronowitz. has taught 14,000 students how to be safer drivers.

When it comes to distracted driving, Nichols believes that, “the bigger issue all around it that we are just so connected. We can’t put our electronics down.”

She insists people need to change their mindset. “We believe that everything has to be instantaneous. We need to stop expecting a response right away.”

“I have a thirty minute drive to work.  Think of what I can knock off on my phone in 30 minutes. I can read and write emails, text my friends, and make phone calls,” she said. But to her, none of it is worth the risk of driving distracted.

“How do you make yourself do a long commute and not do anything? It’s really important that you have a life outside of your device. Drive, relax or and breathe for thirty minutes. Just shut-off and focus on driving,” Nichols recommends.

What’s next for Pamela Nichols? Restoring Albany’s waterfront which she describes as currently being blocked by a highway. “We’re a port City with a beautiful waterfront and it is largely inaccessible because of highways. Everybody wants to bring back the waterfront but I’m bound and determined to get it done.”

About her latest project, Nichols said, “I have absolutely no experience, but I’m going to get into it and learn. I don’t like when people simply complain and don’t offer solutions.”
“You can complain and you can think things should be done differently, but then make a suggestion.”

“I see a lot of things I would change or want to be a part of. So be a part of it,” she said.


* Adriana Gillian is a senior studying journalism and
creative writing at Fordham University in New York City.