Erica Murray is a 2020-2021 Fellow. She grew up in both Detroit and Redford, Michigan and has backgrounds in Public Administration & Nonprofits.

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

I work at Focus: HOPE, one of the first and oldest nonprofits in Detroit. Focus: HOPE offers various programs to the community—from our Food for Seniors, to Workforce Development and Early Learning programs. My current role at Focus: HOPE is in the development department where we fundraise, provide special events and various other opportunities for the community to engage and support our programs. In my role as the development coordinator,I engage with individual donors.

Tell us about the challenge project you’re currently working on; what are you learning from the experience?

Connecting with community members at Norwest Gallery (practicing Covid-19 guidelines)

We’re currently working with Detroit Phoenix Center. My team is tasked with re-imagining their emergency housing program. I’m learning how youth oriented DPC is, and as a part of the emergency housing team my teammates and I are trying to find organizations that align with empowering youth voices and experiences.

How do you hope to impact the community as a Fellow?
I hope to impact the community by building and connecting others with similar missions to the greater community.

How do you believe your fellowship year will shape your career moving forward?
Being a fellow in this fellowship has helped me think of innovative ways to tackle issues by using design thinking. We have to listen and uplift community voices we are trying to serve. How else are we going to make an impact in the community?

Please share the most memorable moment you have experienced so far as a Fellow. Why was it memorable and how has it impacted you?

Design Thinking: An innovative way to uplift a community

One of my most memorable moments is seeing our work implemented right away. The whole process of connecting with the community we’re partnering with at the time and building recommendations to support what the organization is trying to achieve has been an amazing feeling. Design thinking works.

If someone is reading this and considering applying to be a Fellow, why would you encourage them to apply?
I encourage others to apply to Challenge Detroit because the work we build and connections we make within the cohort and the community is unmatched. We really do dig in and immerse within the community of Detroit. I have learned so much about the other organizations we have partnered with, about myself and who I am as a professional, and so much more about Detroit. Challenge Detroit is a really special fellowship.