Shaper of the Month: Nisha Witt

In April, Global Shapers Norfolk paired with WHRO to put on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…There’s Sea Level Rise?,” a game show about climate change that was modeled after NPR’s hit radio game show, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” The event sold out, went on without a hitch, and everyone in attendance learned a little something. BUT DID YOU KNOW that the brains behind the project was one of our star shapers? Nisha Witt, who has been a Shaper since July 2016, co-wrote a majority of the content and worked hand in hand with WHRO to make the event the success that it was. And she’s not done being stellar! In the Fall, she will be spearheading and leading #SeaLevelGarden, a project to highlight and address the ever rising tides of Norfolk by installing a rain garden in the to-be renovated Plum Point Park.
Global Shapers Norfolk is lucky and honored to have Nisha as a member, so we felt she deserved some spotlight. So continue below to read more about our amazing Shaper!
What do you do when you are not Global Shaping?
Not only do I work on my company, Aesop Technologies, but I’m also a part-time student at TCC pursuing a certification in Small Business Management.

What was the inspiration for Aesop Technologies?While working on a research paper, I found an article about how cell phones were starting to become the top contributors for excessive carbon emission. I was shocked and amazed that there were not a lot of gadgets to help mobile device users alleviate the need to recharge their phone from a tethered indoor outlet. So I was inspired to invent a solar powered cell phone charger using Luminescent solar concentrators, or LSCs. It didn’t take off as quickly and as well as I had anticipated, so I pivoted the idea into a solar powered bench. The concept is still the same, but the design is vastly different.

What was the inspiration for the name of your company?
When I was in the process of searching for a name, I wasn’t generating any names that gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling, so I gave up, went to Google and typed in “Stories about the sun.” The first result was Aesop’s fable “The North Wind and the Sun”. The biggest moral takeaway for me is that “gentle persuasion is more effective than force”. This is the overall objective behind Aesop Technologies – I want to create products that offer convenience and practicality. Rather than encouraging a market to use a product that isn’t practical, I create products that can be simple, that blends in with its surroundings.

Aesop Tholos, Nisha’s solar powered bench
Photo Credit: Jared Soares
What is your biggest passion in life?
This environment and planet is my passion. As a child, I was an avid viewer of “Captain Planet”. I would pretend that one of the cheap, plastic rings that you get out of a 25 cent vending machine was one of those super powerful rings. I always thought that Captain Planet and his Planeteers were the coolest characters on earth; I still do. Like the saying goes in the eco-friendly community, “There is no Planet B”.
What is your biggest win to date? What are you most proud of?
When I was featured in Inc. Magazine as a Veteran Owned businesses. That was by far the coolest thing I had ever been a part of. Not only I was the only U.S. Navy Sailor to be mentioned in the article, but I was the only representative from Hampton Roads.
What do you love about being a Global Shaper?
I love that I can use a well-established vehicle to push my personal passions. Granted there are plenty of environmental groups in Hampton Roads that thrive on similar agendas, but Global Shapers seemed to be the only group that resonated with me. I am able to work with my peers and learn about their passions in exchange for mine. Additionally, I get to collaborate on projects with amazing organizations, like the Emerging Leaders Board and the Elizabeth River Project.
What can people do to help Global Shapers Norfolk?
There are a lot of things people can do to help Global Shapers! Right now, we are pushing a major survey, the sole purpose of which is to capture what Millennials are thinking. By gathering Millennial input, we can use the results to shape Hampton Roads for the future. If you’re a Millennial that wants a say in the future of Hampton Roads, then please complete the survey!
Even if you are not a Millennial, you can still help us. Our projects require manpower of all ages, shapes, and sizes. You can go to the Contact Us page to join our mailing list and stay in the loop for our upcoming projects (like #SeaLevelGarden, a rain garden we are planting in Downtown Norfolk in the fall!). And, of course, you can support us financially, which is always a huge help. If you are interested in donating, please check out the Donate page or contact us directly!
Bonus Question! You have a rare day off, you want to relax, so you pull out the best movie of all time – what is it and why?
Ok. So I’m cheating a bit with this question because I like to play a movie and a specific music album… simultaneously. It’s commonly known as “The Dark Side of Oz”, where you play “The Wizard of Oz” and Pink Floyd’s “Darkside of the Moon” at the same time. Coincidentally, the music matches up with scenes of the movie. When I first watched it, it was by far the craziest thing I had ever witnessed. Also, another thing I find amazing about it, is the fact that artistry can be on polar opposite of the spectrum, but yet contain similar rhythms to tell a story. Random side note: if you really want to try this out, sources say to start it on the third roar of the MGM lion. However, I do it on the second roar. The sequence looks and sounds better that way.