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About Shirley Nichols

Atlanta, Georgia

Shirley Nichols is a tireless advocate for the parks, waterways, and greenspaces in her South River Gardens community. Near Atlanta’s airport, South River Gardens is a largely residential community with vast tracts of forested land surrounded by industrial land uses.

Shirley holds several leadership roles in her community, including her Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU-Z) and the South River Gardens Neighborhood Association. Since the 1970s, she has been deeply committed, organized, and fearless in her advocacy, while also passing her knowledge down to the younger generation.

In late 2020, due in large part to Shirley’s advocacy efforts, the City of Atlanta acquired 216 acres of forested land in her neighborhood. Called the Lake Charlotte Forest Preserve, the property was owned by a waste management company and at risk of becoming a landfill or being sold for industrial use. She led the fight to preserve the area, and thanks to Ms. Nichols, Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve is now one of Atlanta’s largest public parks and a model for urban forest preservation.