CCED Alumni Profiles
2018 Social Relations and Policy
I had a double major in social relations and policy and finance. The main bulk of my assignment was in relation to co-learning plans. I worked on editing and publishing them, and then coordinated a documentary/ video project that highlighted the work that all of the co-learning plan and experts around the state were doing to spur economic development in their community.
I currently live in Detroit and work for Huntington Bank as a portfolio manager in the commercial banking division. In this role, I work with a wide range of companies in metro Detroit to underwrite commercial loans and analyze risk based on qualitative and quantitative credit metrics. I am also the cofounder of the Radical Coffee Project, a small social enterprise focused on providing an equitable market for small Guatemalan coffee farmers. All profits from coffee sales fund interest-free microloans to entrepreneurs in Detroit and in Guatemala. I do this in my free time with two other friends I graduated from MSU with. I also love to ski and travel.
Working at the CCED influenced the career I have in that it provided exposure to the wide range of economic activity across our state. Working with economic development practitioners throughout Michigan at CCED allowed me to gain hands-on experience with industries I didn’t even know existed. Furthermore, it taught me the importance of financing and capital in making economic development projects move forward. In my role now, I work with companies to provide financing for a multitude of projects they are working on. My time at CCED helped me realize the importance of access to credit and capital to the overall economy. In terms of the Radical Coffee Project, working at CCED allowed me to see that things like a social enterprise actually exist and can be incredibly powerful business models. Learning about Women Who Weld, Rebel Nell, Brewery Vivant, etc. gave me insight into what it takes to run a social enterprise and how one can use business as a vehicle for positive economic and social development.
To current and future CCED students: Put yourself out there and get your hands dirty with as many projects at CCED as you can. The knowledge base at your fingertips at CCED and its network is very powerful. Challenge yourself and put yourself in uncomfortable situations because life and all of its wonderful lessons live on the edge of your comfort zone.
Graduated in 1999 - Master of Arts, Sociology and Urban Affairs and in 2010 - PhD, Sociology
Circa 1994-1997, I served as a CCED graduate student program assistant while pursuing my studies as a sociology and urban affairs graduate student at Michigan State University. I had the privilege and pleasure of working with public housing resident leaders across Michigan alongside a dynamic CCED team to design, develop, and launch the Michigan Resident Leadership Network (MRLN). It was CCED where I first learned and applied community engagement and community development principles as strategies to address social inequality through community leadership development within MRLN. It was through this work with MRLN partners that I was first introduced to the idea of centering community voice as a key social justice measure. I learned community development from the best at CCED and appreciate the experience of learning under the tutelage of Dr. LaMore, Mr. Melcher, doctoral student Nancy Radtke, countless community members, and so many others.
I am currently working with the Department of Community Health Services, Program for Multicultural Health at Michigan Medicine (University of Michigan Health System) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We design, develop, implement, and evaluate culturally responsive health initiatives through education, research, and outreach activities. Additionally, I have the pleasure of supporting our teams by developing programs, providing training, and serving on community organization boards and committees. We collaborate with community, local, state, and national partners to develop interventions that enhance health outcomes. Facilitating creativity and community-centric ideas are a critical part of what we do. I also conduct research to enhance current understanding of the social context of disparate breastfeeding and maternal health outcomes. Outcomes from my research have informed policy and programs and appear in several top tier peer-reviewed publications. When not working, I enjoy spending time with family, reading, playing tennis, volunteering, and daydreaming.
The most exciting part of my current work is the fact that it represents a continuum in critical effort by community development folks like myself to understand and address inequity. It is an honor and a privilege to learn from the community and I relish the opportunity to translate community members' ideas into actionable steps that reflect social justice intervention. It is sometimes difficult to do, but I try to approach my work with humility, a willingness to learn, and an awareness that historical context shapes our current circumstances.
To current and future CCED students: The world is a place of unimaginable opportunity. Man-made structural conditions often shield our view and obstruct access for many. Be mindful of these conditions and expend energy and resources to work beyond barriers and to help others do so too. We are all one community, we just have to act like it.