Demitria Powell is a 2021-2022 Fellow. She grew up in both Detroit and Saginaw, Michigan. She attended Michigan State University where she earned a Bachelors of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies.

Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.

My host company is DTE Energy. A family household name to many, DTE is one of the largest electricity providers here in Michigan. Their services spread across many counties and territories which makes the work I do more incredible. What is MY role at DTE? Well, I get the privilege to work within their Volunteerism and Employee Engagement department. It is there, I focus primarily on social responsibility and company branding. I not only ensure DTE is continuously giving back to the communities in which they serve through volunteering, but I am also curating strategic ways on how and what that may look like for all constituents involved.

A volunteerism event I assisted with between The United Way and DTE.

Tell us about a challenge project you worked on, what did you learn from the experience?

For the Challenge Project with community partner Marygrove Conservancy, my team and I were assigned the task of cultivating a possible mentorship program for the Conservancy that includes bridging the gap between creative youth and community “culture bearers.” I’ve learned that “Culture bearer,” a term used by Marygrove Conservancy, is someone who holds much knowledge about the values, beliefs, and traditions of a culture and can pass them down to those in younger generations.

How do you hope to impact the community as a Fellow?

My hope to impact the community as a fellow is embedded in aiding community partners so they can positively hold space for the city of Detroit. Have you ever heard of the saying, “it takes a village?” Using my energy and skills to help those who curate something great for others is how I wish to make my mark. Eventually partnering with those same people to organize my own personal way of giving.

Since becoming a Fellow, what new skill/new skills have you gained?

The Design Thinking process is a new skill for me. It not only forces one to “trust the process,” but have an immense amount of trust within themselves. You can move mountains and take steps if you plan and execute correctly, even when timing seems short. So far, the Design Thinking process has helped me with my own personal projects and ensuring my ideas don’t just sit as ideas. That they come into fruition the way I envision them.

How do you believe your fellowship year will shape your career moving forward?

Being a fellow has helped me pinpoint another passion as well as help blossom passions I had already been pursuing. This experience has 100% shed light on what I believe to be my next career move and what I want it to look like. Sometimes all we’re missing is that one full circle piece and for me, Challenge Detroit was that piece.

A team volunteerism event on behalf of my host company.

If someone is reading this and considering applying to be a Fellow, share why you would encourage them to apply.

My fellowship experience has been great! It has provided avenues for me to meet like-minded individuals who share a passion for community building. Some of these individuals are now considered good friends. In conjunction with that, Detroit’s culture is incredibly rich from the soil it was built on to the top of the Renaissance building. Through Challenge Detroit, I was able to dive into that richness and understand the culture in its entirety. Without this experience, I would have never gotten that opportunity.