My name is Asiyah Williamson. I am a Detroit native and alumni to the nonprofit organization, The Downtown Boxing gym. The programming at this organization changed my life and I am incredibly proud to say that I am now serving as the Apprentice to DBG’s Founder and CEO, Khali Sweeney. The Downtown Boxing gym serves our youth through education, athletics, mentorship and intervention. I began my apprenticeship in August of 2020 and have since added the additional title of being the Associate Director of Athletics. My Challenge Detroit fellowship began shortly after my career at DBG in October of 2020 and has been incredibly impactful on my growth as an emerging community leader. Throughout my fellowship year i’ve learned that in order to properly lead a community you must first understand who you are leading, where you are leading them to and why you are dedicating yourself to the cause. You must lead with empathy. The design thinking process is at the core of everything we do within our fellowship year at Challenge Detroit. This process offers emerging leaders with a toolkit meant for leading with the community you’re serving first in mind. I’ve utilized this process as an outline for beginning projects within Challenge Detroit as well as at my host company DBG. The design thinking process provides an outline for leading through service in five steps. Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. We begin each project in Challenge Detroit by first interviewing community stakeholders and listening to what their needs are. We utilize the insights we hear throughout the entirety of our projects. Within my position at DBG I begin all of my programming by asking staff, students and families what their needs are and how I can provide service to meeting those needs. This is how I assure I am leading with empathy. The time spent in the steps of Defining, Ideating, Prototyping and Testing has shown me the power in working alongside an intentionally diverse team on a shared mission. At DBG I have a range of diverse leaders who consistently support and provide feedback on all of my programming. I’ve learned to include as many perspectives as I can before I make any community based decisions. I could not think of a better beginning on my journey as a community leader than within my fellowship year at Challenge Detroit.