Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Supported by

Nnedi Stephens


Nnedi Stephens


Vice President of Search

Political Office

Nevada State Senate District 13

Political Affiliation


How would you describe yourself to voters?

I was born and raised here in Northern Nevada. My dad emigrated from Nigeria in the late 80s and spent a couple of years in Montana attending Carrol College. Between the cold winters and the even colder reception he received as an African International student, he agreed to work for a summer in Reno at the Harris Casino. Instantly falling in love with Reno, he continued to travel to Reno to work summers at Harris until he transferred to UNR where he continued working as a slot machine technician while pursuing his Business degree. My mom, who was a certified nurse/midwife in Nigeria, followed him here in 1995 when they got married and would later have four kids. After years of working in critical care nursing, my mother became one of, if not the first Black nurse supervisor for a major hospital in the State of Nevada. She later left in 2004 to start her own business, contracting with Sierra Regional Center and the Aging and Disability Services Division (ADSD) of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide housing and support for individuals with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. Her business, Confidence Health Resources, operates 24 hour Supported Living Arrangements (SLAs) across Reno and Sparks.

My siblings and I are all products of the Washoe County School District with the youngest set to graduate high school this next summer. I am also the first openly non-binary, Nigerian-American candidate to seek state office in Nevada.

I am the Vice President of Search for Meso Solutions, a hiring firm that works with progressive organizations across the country to help ensure equitable and inclusive hiring practices. My job requires the ability to plan out and execute hiring searches for senior/executive-level positions crucial to the effective operation of these organizations and the scope of their potential for good. I place a keen focus on building the kinds of relationships necessary to support both the client organizations and applicants through the process while minimizing as much hiring-related stress as possible. This job combines the attention to detail I’ve honed in past campaign work with the rapport building that helped me to be a more effective public servant.

From a young age, I have wanted to give back to my community by creating opportunities and fighting back against systems of oppression. As a teen, I worked to raise money for local charities before entering the healthcare field and advocating for the individuals with disabilities whom I aided through assisted medication administration, budget planning, and supported recreation. I have worked in public service at the state and federal levels and pushed for more inclusivity in outreach and policy decisions to empower communities to take their place at the decision-making table. As a community organizer and electoral campaign staffer, I gained skills in implementing community-driven outreach methods that prepare me for the work of running a campaign that is centered around the needs of the communities in SD13. These professional experiences as well as my vast volunteer experience in areas ranging from immigration and reproductive justice to racial justice and equity prepare me to run for public office.

What do you see as the top issues in this campaign?

The average cost of a home is far out of reach for too many Nevadans, especially given the skyrocketing rental market, and is a dream that many under the age of 40 have long since let go. I will work with housing advocates and relevant stakeholders as urgently as I can to produce creative solutions to promote and build affordable housing and further study the rental market and the best ways to strengthen renter’s rights and protections. Finally, I will collaborate with my colleagues to pass a tenant's bill of rights to protect against exorbitant rent increases and penalize landlords who attempt to illegally evict or intimidate tenants.

Small businesses were hit especially during the economic recession due to COVID-19 and I worked directly with small businesses during the height of it to connect them with needed resources. We need to look into creating sustaining versions of the PETS program and the PPP program so that small businesses have more resources available to them when outside market forces negatively impact their business or when unforeseen tragedies affect small business owners such as medical emergencies happening to themselves or their loved ones.

We need to increase support for systems that helped so many small businesses through this pandemic, including but not limited to the Small Business Development Centers and GOED. Many of the businesses lost in the pandemic were owned by Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and LGBTQIA people.

Finally, we must prioritize mental health and wellness access and affordability. The pandemic has negatively affected the overall mental health of our community, especially our children. I’m fighting to ensure everyone has access to affordable mental health care and that they feel empowered to reach out for it. We must ensure accessibility to substance use disorder treatment for all Nevadans, regardless of insurance, to combat the rise in opioid use within the state.

In your opinion, how would you rate the state’s response to the pandemic? Why?

When the pandemic hit, Nevada was at a point where improvements needed to be made to our unemployment system and exposed vulnerabilities and inequalities that disproportionately affected predominantly people with marginalized identities. There were small business owners who did not speak English and were left out of PPP loans, disabled people left homebound without access to resources, and employers who were unable to provide PPE. Overall, the state did the best it could with what it had at the time in terms of information and resources, but there is much more that needs to be done to shore up lines of support for our most vulnerable in terms of the ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 is a mass disabling event and Nevada must respond accordingly.

Education and local government officials have long asked lawmakers to change the way the state assesses property taxes. That includes raising the current tax threshold. Should lawmakers consider raising those thresholds? If not, what is the best way for governments to raise money for local programs?

As a state senator, I would enthusiastically revist the discussion about property taxes. As it stands, the current depreciation calculation method is forcing our local and county governmental bodies to leave millions of dollars on the table that could be used for much needed infrastructure and educational improvements as we struggle to keep up with exponential growth. I am not in favor of raising property taxes in a regressive manner that would put the burden on those who can least afford it.