Chad Slider is a 2019-2020 Fellow. Chad grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and graduated from Butler University with a Bachelors in Business Administration—Minor in Marketing.
Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.
During my Challenge Detroit year, I worked with MetroEHS Pediatric Therapy as a Junior Sales and Marketing Associate. As the only sales representative I co-created a sales strategy with the owner Lori Shaffer and my work set a baseline for an addition to our sales team about half way through the year. I frequently set “Lunch and Learn” appointments with physicians where I would bring lunch to the office and sell how MetroEHS provides value to our clients and explain how they could refer patients. I had a great experience with MetroEHS where I learned more about working in a small office environment and growing confidence within myself to make a decision and execute on it.
Tell us about your most recent challenge project; what did you learn from the experience?
My last Challenge project was with Detroit Regional Partnership a newly formed economic development organization that is “laser-focused on marketing the region to out-of-state and international companies to attract investments and jobs.” I had never worked with or heard much about what economic development organizations do so I learned a lot about our region and how Detroit Regional Partnership attracts companies to do business in the 11 county region they work in. A couple fun facts; Detroit is the 3rd largest design cluster in the US and the only US city to be designated a UNESCO city of design.
What was your favorite Challenge Project and why?
My favorite project was our first one with Detroit Public Schools Community District where we co-created a leadership conference for the high school population. There are a few factors as to why it was my favorite—the structure was brand new to us, we all were starting at ground zero, and the chaotic energy was thrilling and memorable. We worked with youth which is always rewarding and we knew our work was going to be implemented the following spring which would directly impact the same youth we had met. We produced solid work we were all proud of and even got some tears out of Sharlonda Buckman, our lead liaison and assistant superintendent of the district. I will always treasure our work we did and though this year the conference was cancelled due to covid-19, I look forward to seeing it come to life next year.
How do you feel you have positively contributed to the community this year?
Our last two projects were during the pandemic so we were working from home. Needless to say this changed our plans and how we were able to connect with our nonprofit partners. Our whole challenge four plan pivoted and through Michigan Community Resources we partnered with smaller nonprofits who could use the help as their demand for services increased and often their capacity decreased. The team I worked with co-created with Oakland Ave Urban Farm to transition to a digital market while also laying the groundwork for an intellectual volunteering program. I loved how the leadership team was able to pivot during these trying times which positioned us in a space where we could work with partners who were focused on the compounded issues facing residents due to Covid-19.
Since becoming a Fellow, what have you learned?
I’ve learned that I can be extremely flexible and adaptive to new skills or tasks in a short period of time. I knew from school I was learning that skill but it was really put to the test this year. We would co-create ideas with our non-profit partners and then need to execute on them. Often that would lead to stepping out of my comfort zone with a skill I wasn’t proficient in or learning a new skill. This was exciting and stressful due to our short project windows but ultimately rewarding, I am leaving with a new confidence in my ability to adapt on the fly and produce quality work even while out of my comfort zone.
If someone reading your interview is considering applying to be a Fellow, why would you encourage them to apply?
What do you have to lose? It’s a one year program and the benefits are plentiful. I met amazing friends I would have likely never met, worked with 5 non-profit organizations in a year (hello, who can say that at your age?) and have continued access to this network as an alumni fellow where I plan to actively engage and continue to meet the powerful leaders of this city. In the words of Shia LaBeouf “Just do it!”