Tori Sullivan-Cortez is a 2021-2022 Fellow. Tori grew up in Toledo, Ohio and went to earn a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Toledo, then a Master of Public Administration and Master of Social Work from The Ohio State University.

Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.
Arts & Scraps is a small Detroit nonprofit who focuses on education equity and environmental sustainability. We implement STEM curricula, using recycled materials and arts integration, throughout Southeast Michigan and we are a creative reuse store located on the Eastside of Detroit. We strive to make every interaction educational and fun, in the hopes to inspire innovation and creativity. I am the Programs Manager. I oversee our program department, develop new programs, as well as coordinate our workshops and events.

Tell us about the challenge project you’re currently working on; what are you learning from the experience?
We just started our third challenge project with Brilliant Detroit. Brilliant Detroit is a good friend of Arts & Scraps and I am excited to lead a Challenge Team on this new project. I am excited to interact with Brilliant Detroit in a new way and I am grateful for the opportunity to strengthen my professional relationship with them. As I am writing this, I don’t know what our project will be but I am excited to help such a wonderful organization.

Our museum exploration group at the Charles Wright museum.

How do you hope to impact the community as a Fellow?
As someone who works at a small nonprofit, I know there are truly not enough hours in the day. I’m proud to be able to work alongside nonprofit organizations to help them expand their capacity to meet the needs of the community.

How do you believe your fellowship year will shape your career moving forward?
As someone who is starting their career in the nonprofit sector, it has been wonderful to learn about the variety of nonprofits. Not only have I learned more about our Challenge partners, but I have been able to meet with other nonprofit stakeholders through the Design Thinking process and our Leadership Fridays. Speaking of Design Thinking, I will take that skill with me wherever I go. It is a great process for innovation and creativity.

Meeting with our organization liaison Turkessa Baldridge from Marygrove Conservancy.

Please share the most memorable moment you have experienced so far as a Fellow. Why was it memorable and how has it impacted you?
During a Leadership Friday, we had the opportunity to meet virtually with Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. I mustered up the courage to ask him about imposter syndrome and how to overcome that feeling. He told us to “position yourself as a learner.” I often reflect on this insight in my professional and personal life. I find myself asking more questions and really listening to learn. I think this is a takeaway that I will use for the rest of my professional and personal life.

Leadership Friday with Lt. Governor Gilchrist

If someone is reading this and considering applying to be a Fellow, share why you would encourage them to apply?
I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about the Detroit community to apply. Not only have I learned a lot from the organizations we have partnered with, but the Challenge Detroit team goes above and beyond to help us learn about Detroit. Even my colleagues who grew up in the Metro Detroit area are learning about the city in a new way. Learning about Design Thinking has also been a huge benefit to me as a professional. Design Thinking is a great tool to have for anyone. The skill is transferable to nonprofits, the private sector, and entrepreneurs.