Lara Harp is a 2021-2022 Fellow. Lara grew up in Dearborn, Michigan and attended University of Michigan-Dearborn where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Bioengineering).

Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.
My host company is Clark Hill, a multi-disciplinary and international law firm. My role is on the Business Analytics Team as a business analyst. In this position I work to piece together different data points to provide support to the firm’s Business Unit Leaders and Directors in achieving the firm’s goals.

View of the city from Clark Hill

Tell us about the challenge project you’re currently working on; what are you learning from the experience?
Our current challenge project is in partnership with Brilliant Detroit, an organization that is dedicated to building kid success families through programming and support of the various Brilliant Detroit homes in high-need neighborhoods. I specifically am on the dashboard display team which focuses on testing and recommending a dashboard platform, as well as developing a mockup of what the dashboard could look like. I am really excited about this challenge project as it enables me to work on two different interests of mine; data and design. Since starting this project, I am learning the importance of not just telling, but showing kids’ success in Detroit communities due in part to the opportunities provided from organizations such as Brilliant Detroit.

How do you hope to impact the community as a Fellow?
As a Fellow, I hope to impact the community by dedicating my time, skills and unique background to drive the missions and visions of all our non-profit partners. This includes immersing myself each Friday by listening to and empathizing with the needs of the different communities that have been neglected for far too long. More importantly, it means to create real and lasting change that will positively impact communities for years to come.

What are you most looking forward to as a Fellow this year?
As a Fellow, I am most looking forward to continue learning about and engaging with this city. Growing up just 15 minutes from Detroit, I have learned more about the city in the past 8 months than I have in 22 years. I know that Detroit is the place that I am going to spend the rest of my life in, so I really value the opportunity to actually see Detroit for what it is.

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 I have experienced as a fellow so far had to be my experience interviewing Iva-June Williams during our second challenge project with Marygrove Conservancy. Iva is a masters student in community development who shared her experiences with the different Detroit communities she’s engaged with in the past two years. She really highlighted what it means to listen and empathize with different communities who might be skeptical of receiving help. Her words on how “Community development should be like friendship” now echo in my mind every time I have the opportunity to engage with different community members. Because of this conversation, I have a new outlook on how to approach sensitive subjects in communities that may be wary of outside help.

If someone is reading this and considering applying to be a Fellow, share why you would encourage them to apply?
If you are considering applying, just do it. There is nothing out there like the experiences that come with Challenge Detroit. You get to fully immerse yourself in a brilliant and diverse community while working on skills you never thought you could possibly build. You also get to meet a plethora of amazing individuals who you will learn from and grow with. This has been one of the greatest years of my life in a personal, professional, & social sense, and I owe a lot of it to Challenge Detroit.

Making holiday cards for seniors and families for Clement Kerns Gardens.