Kaj Althaus is a 2021-2022 Fellow. Kaj grew up in Saline, Michigan and earned a Bachelors in Cultural Anthropology from University in Michigan and a Masters in Public Policy from Penn State.
Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.
My host company, The Live6 Alliance, is a community development nonprofit based out of Northwest Detroit. Our primary focus is on four neighborhoods that border Livernois & McNichols (6 Mile), which are Fitzgerald, Bagley, Martin Park, & University District. We work in a variety of areas including public safety and small business assistance.
Tell us about the challenge project you’re currently working on; what are you learning from the experience?
I am currently serving as the team lead for the Dashboard Sustainability Team on our Project with Brilliant Detroit. We are looking at creating a plan to implement BD’s pending comprehensive data tool in every newly inquired neighborhood and site. I am learning a lot from the experience. The opportunity to lead my team has been eye-opening in terms of the scope of work that is required to execute these projects well. I am also learning so much about Brilliant Detroit and its mission as an organization.
How do you hope to impact the community as a Fellow?
As a Fellow, I hope to help further the development of one of the greatest cities on earth. The communities we are working with are already incredibly vibrant and I hope to contribute something for them to continue to reach their potential.
Since becoming a Fellow, what new skill/skills have you gained?
Understanding the process of Design Thinking through the challenge projects has been an amazing new skill I have developed. It is a very efficient project design tool that I will take with me to all my professional endeavors in the future.
Please share the most memorable moment you have experienced so far as a Fellow. Why was it memorable and how has it impacted you?
The most memorable moment of the fellowship so far was this past weekend, when I executed a placemaking project to activate the empty lot across the street from Homebase. It was a project I headed up on my own for the most part and it was really successful.
If someone is reading this and considering applying to be a Fellow, share why you would encourage them to apply?
Challenge Detroit is a great gateway to the professional landscape in Detroit. By the end of the year, you will have worked with at least 5 organizations and more than likely get invaluable experience in your field. The networking opportunities are vast as well.