Following their fellowship years, our Fellows go on to a wide variety of experiences. Some return to school pursuing advanced degrees, some take time to travel and explore, others stay on at their host companies continuing to grow in their roles, and others go on to new career experiences. Given their passion for our city, it has been incredible to see a good number of alumni go on to roles in Detroit’s city government. From focusing on historic preservation and strategic fundraising to roles advising on the economy and civil rights, we are excited to share about the experiences of seven alumni making an impact in our city.
Ann Phillips, Year Three Alumna
“I work for the City of Detroit in the Planning and Development Department’s Office of Historic Preservation, as an Architect and Urban Designer. My work focuses on thinking critically and strategically about how the existing built environment and its history can not only inform the direction of the city’s future, but also serve longtime Detroiters—whose work has been instrumental in preserving that built environment. The Historic Preservation staff also provides support to the Historic District Commission in administrating a building permit and project review for properties within any of Detroit’s nearly 140 historic districts, which contain approximately 10,000 parcels.
My fellowship in 2014/2015 connected me with a broad network of colleagues, collaborators, and partners who educated me about Detroit and its citizens and who fostered my desire to get to the root of issues confronting longtime Detroiters and work with them to develop solutions. Challenge Detroit solidified the importance of working alongside people and communities to establish a process of problem-solving that is not about using my skills to propose and impose solutions, but rather to utilize my skills to create ways of incorporating—as opposed to merely including – those facing these challenges most immediately into the solution-making process.”
Sarms Jabra, Year Three Alumnus
Sarms is a Program Analyst at the City.
Cassi Meitl, Year Five Alumna
“I am a Senior Advisor in the Mayor’s Office on the Jobs and Economy Team. I contribute an urban planning point of view and project management approach to the coordination of acquisition, incentive, entitlement, infrastructure, permitting, and community impact challenges with companies and real estate developers for job-creating real estate development projects. From my fellowship experience, I carry forward knowledge of the City’s nonprofits and community champions, and a commitment to find ways to include local initiatives and voices in real estate projects. I’m grateful to Challenge Detroit for the exposure to these groups and the design thinking skills I apply in my work for inclusive development.”
Claire Huttenlocher, Year Five Alumna
“I am currently serving as a Development Officer for the City of Detroit, where I pursue innovative funding strategies to strengthen city initiatives. During the almost three years that I’ve held this position, I have worked closely with City departments and community partners to secure and leverage corporate, philanthropic and public funding to increase economic opportunity for all Detroiters. I lead fundraising strategy for our Workforce, Mobility Innovation, Planning and Development, and Arts and Culture priorities.
Challenge Detroit gave me the opportunity to dive into the landscape of social impact in Detroit through human-centered projects with nonprofit partners that are truly dedicated to serving the needs of Detroit residents. I was able to explore a variety of topics ranging from sustainable neighborhood development to place-based entrepreneurship. Through this fellowship, I fell even more in love with this city, built relationships across sectors, and kickstarted my career at the intersection of local government, philanthropy and policy.”
Alexis Davis, Year Six Alumna
Alexis is a Policy Analyst at the City.
Lauren Wright, Year Six Alumna
Lauren is a Design Researcher at the City.
Hind Ourahou, Year Seven Alumna
Hind is a Senior Mobility Strategist at the City.
Dillon Brown, Year Eight Alumnus
“Working for the City [as an Inclusion Advisor on the Civil Rights, Opportunity & Inclusion (CRIO) team] has been pretty amazing so far! It has given me fulfillment knowing I’m pouring back into the city that raised and inspired me. During my time as a fellow with Challenge Detroit, I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge and interest on what it truly means to serve. I am now using that same knowledge to ensure that I am offering everything I have to the communities and the people. I’m still growing, but there is now intentionality on being an asset to the community. Serving is a passion of mine and working with the City of Detroit, I plan to continue to serve in ways that may be beneficial to the People.”
Jacob Jones, Year Eight Alumnus
“As the Inclusion Team Lead with CRIO [Civil Rights, Opportunity & Inclusion team], I work to ensure that developers are meeting their commitments to hire Detroiters and bring benefits to the community. With so much building and development happening around the city, it could be easy to get bogged down by the sheer amount of numbers we’re working with. But I have been able to maintain empathy and understanding for the community that I’m working for. This is in part because the work we did at Challenge Detroit is so similar. No matter what our individual deliverables were the core goal was the same: improve outcomes for the community.”
Many thanks to those alumni who provided insight about their roles and continued contributions to our community through their work at the City.