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2020 40 Under 40 Nikki Belshe

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Paul Harral
Paul is a lifelong journalist with experience in wire service, newspaper, magazine, local and network television and digital media. He was vice president and editor of the editorial page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and editor of Fort Worth, Texas magazine before joining the Business Press. What he likes best is writing about people in detail and introducing them to others in the community. Specific areas of passion are homelessness, human trafficking, health care and aerospace.




Nikki Belshe sets the standard for passionate, dedicated, and ethical busi­ness practices in the field of music therapy.

In an industry characterized by low wages, intense hours, and limited employer support, Belshe improves the lives of her clients by providing a fair wage and invaluable emotional and professional support to her employees, said Annie Roberson of Heart and Harmony Music Therapy.

It is an area of health care marked with low reimbursement from Medicaid waivers, leading to a shortage of qualified professionals and high turnover, ultimately to the detriment of clients receiving the service.

“Nikki is performing a loaves-and-fishes-style miracle, turning this limited state reimbursement into a sustainable and supportive work environment for her employees,” Roberson said. “The company culture she created is not only sustainable but fulfilling, allowing her therapists to nurture relationships with clients over time and acquire specialized skills to further serve the clientele.”

That was reflected in multiple nominations.

“Nikki is the type of person who sees a need and does something about it. She recognized the need for additional funding sources for music therapy and did something about it by founding a nonprofit in 2019, the Fort Worth Music Therapy Fund, which increases access to music therapy services in Texas by providing financial assistance to clients and interns,” said Lori Archibald with Thomson Reuters.

Belshe graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy with a miinor in Vocal Studies from Sam Houston State University in 2008. She’s a board-certified music therapist and is currently pursuing a master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management degree at Arizona State University.

– Paul K. Harral

Where did your first paycheck come from?

My first job was a music librarian for a summer at First United Methodist Church of Hurst.

What other profession would you like to try?

In a parallel universe I am Nikki Belshe, Storm Chaser!

Tell us about an influential person in your life, how they influenced you and why he or she was important.

My mom is the most dedicated, hardest working person that I know – whether occupationally or when taking care of others. She worked hard and graduated high school early, and shortly afterward she became a single mom to me by the time she was in her early 20s. … Even though she was the sole provider for us, she made time to come to every school event, every game, every choir concert. …

In 2017, my husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. My mom started taking care of us without being asked. That time period is quite a blur, but I know that she cared for our then 2- and 4-year-olds for weeks at a time sometimes. …

My husband David Belshe passed away in 2018 and my mom still picks up my children from school twice a week and runs my household on those days. … I hope that I can take care of HER one day.

When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

I knew that I wanted to be a musician very early on, but I changed my major from music education to music therapy during the first week of my fresh­man year of college. I read the entire Introduction to the Music Therapy textbook in just a few days and never looked back.

What is your favorite song? Please include artist name.

If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out by Cat Stevens

Tell us about your photo shoot prop.

I brought my grandfather’s guitar, given to me on my 10th birthday. I grew up listening to him pick and strum and I thought the world of my Papa. One day, as an adult, my dad let me in on a secret: my Papa didn’t even know how to play guitar – and he paid $10 for this Stella at a garage sale! What I thought was beautiful guitar playing was just him pretending to play.

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