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.

Kaj with his Live6 and Challenge fellow colleague Effie on the first day of Challenge Detroit.

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.

Kaj with volunteers from the University of Detroit Mercy after assembling resources to execute an Alley Activation project funded by the AARP.

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.

Kaj with 6 mile Santa and Rich Rich of Detroit by Design during the “Homebase 4 the Holidays” vendor pop up he helped orchestrate.