Kristin Stepanek is a 2021-2022 Fellow. Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan is her hometown. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology, minors in French and African and African-American Studies from the University of Michigan.

Screenshot of a working session during our project with Brilliant Detroit, during which Kristin led the Dashboard Display team.

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

I work as a Talent Acquisition Specialist at AAA – The Auto Club Group. I manage their internship and campus outreach programs and develop strategy surrounding DEI and workplace belonging. 

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

We just finished our third Challenge Project with Brilliant Detroit. I had the pleasure of being lead on the Dashboard Display team. The work encouraged us to apply design thinking and HCD to complex data sets to translate information in a way that is accessible and easy for communities to leverage.

Challenge Fellows pose in the Ford Freedom Rotunda at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

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

I look forward to impacting the community as an ally and facilitator, advancing organizations’ impact by helping fill knowledge or skill gaps through our projects’ deliverables.

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

Since becoming a Fellow, I have gained full cycle recruitment skills, worked to optimize programming using the Lean methodology, and have been trained in human centered design. This experience has enabled me to apply my strengths to the field of talent acquisition and I have found that I love helping top talent find rewarding positions. I look forward to continuing to do so while advancing workplace belonging. 

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

Challenge Detroit has facilitated my friendships with incredible people from diverse backgrounds. It’s hard to choose just one memorable moment, but our Orientation’s walking tour with Jamon Jordan set the tone for the fellowship. Afterwards, we debriefed in small groups on the lawn of Lafayette Park, sharing our thoughts and discussing the impacts of shifting communities. It was incredibly meaningful and a lovely introduction to one another and Detroit’s oft overlooked history. Challenge Detroit has exceeded my expectations and helped hone my strengths and develop skills I didn’t know I had.

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

Challenge Detroit is an incredible experience. Fellows are trained in Stanford’s design thinking methodology and sharpen their leadership, problem solving, and project management skills while contributing to a more equitable Detroit. As a Fellow, you work with ambitious, like-minded leaders from varied backgrounds and develop great friendships.


Reflecting on poetry at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History with Mx. David Parnell (pictured).

Kristin picks up her go-to meal, kuku and ji juice, at her favorite Detroit restaurant Baobab Fare.