Paige O’Riordan is a 2020-2021 Fellow. She hails from Canton, Massachusetts and has a background in Decision Science and Ethics, History, and Public Policy.

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

I work for Clark Hill PLC, which is an international full-service law firm based in downtown Detroit. I am a financial analyst in the Business Analytics team. Part of my role is examining firmwide and individual data to discover trends, develop insights, and help to craft recommendations.

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

The GrandRiver WorkPlace exterior (Photo by Living Labs).

I am currently working on our third challenge project with Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (GRDC). I am the team lead for a group working on updating the branding and outreach of a coworking space in Grandmont Rosedale called the Grand River WorkPlace. It’s been a really great experience so far – I’ve learned so much about the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhoods. There is a lot of history and pride in these neighborhoods, and it wasn’t an area that I was very familiar with before this challenge. One of my favorite parts of this challenge has been speaking to long term residents of the area, because they’ve all been so passionate and engaged in their community.

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

As a Fellow, I hope to impact the community by listening to those who are already there and lending my help in sustainable ways. I am not originally from Detroit, and I think it is really important to listen to the voices of the communities that already exist here and make sure that they are prioritized. I also want to make sure that I am helping to create change in long-lasting, sustainable ways that align with the goals and values of the organizations and people doing great work in Detroit.

Since becoming a Fellow, what is something new that you have learned?

An example of what ideation can look like, from our GRDC project.

We utilize Design Thinking on all of our projects, which was completely new to me. It is a five step process: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. This process relies on collaboration and creativity, and was surprisingly difficult for me to implement the first project. One of the goals of the ideation stage is to think of out-of-the-box creative solutions, even if they may not be realistic to implement. This was a totally new way of thinking for me, and was challenging at first. As we moved through the projects, I’ve become more familiar and comfortable with this process. It’s been a valuable tool for reframing problems and thinking of creative solutions.

What are you most looking forward to as a Fellow this year?

I am looking forward to challenge project 5, where the Fellows will get to work with a nonprofit of their choosing on a project that they helped to design. We are still in the early stages of this, and have just started to talk with our project partners about what their high-level needs are. I think it is going to be very rewarding to see a project all the way from conception to finalization, and I’m excited to apply all that I have learned during the year.

If someone is reading this and considering applying to be a Fellow, why would you encourage them to apply?
Challenge Detroit is a great way to learn more about Detroit, its history, and the nonprofits that work here. It has given me so many opportunities to connect with leaders across all different industries, as well as taught me more about leadership and how to think creatively about problem solving. If you want to learn about how you can help create actionable change in Detroit, you should apply!