Current Fellows: 2013-2015
Allandra Bulger, Program Manager
Detroit Future City (http://www.detroitfuturecity.com)
Allandra Bulger comes from a long line of Detroiters--five generations to be exact. She sees the potential for Detroit’s resurgence in the infectious tenacity and resilient spirit of its residents. She sees DRFP as an opportunity to transform that tenacity and resilience into beneficial outcomes for the community.
Bulger serves as a Program Manager with Detroit Future City (DFC) where she will be a member of the Implementation Office for the strategic framework plan. She will serve as the convener of the Civic Capacity Working Group, which will advise, design and develop the participatory implementation efforts of the Detroit Future City Implementation Office.
With experience from over ten years in the non-profit sector and a variety of community activities, Bulger sees the need to build the bridge between communities and their governments. By doing so, she hopes that public policy will be able to be shaped more by the citizens and thereby be more responsive to their needs. While at the Juvenile Assessment Center for Wayne County, she managed the Process Improvement Project for the Title IV-E program (the largest source of federal funding for child welfare activities). As a result, she and her team secured $5.6 million in federal reimbursements for the Wayne County juvenile justice system and local care management organizations to support their services for youth and families. While at DEXDesign Associates, she specialized in developing and delivering technical assistance to community based nonprofit organizations. Bulger was instrumental in securing $1.5 million for Kick The Center in Detroit to aid in delivering educational services to Detroit’s African American LGBTQ community.
Allandra received her Master of Public Administration specializing in Nonprofit and Organization Management from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and her Bachelor of Art in psychology at the University of Michigan in Dearborn, Michigan. DRFP offers more than just professional development; it encourages personal growth as well. Bulger is open to new experiences and opportunities while making use of the many avenues of support through the program and communities.
Catherine Chammout-Frazier, Assistant Business Development Manager
Catherine earned her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning and a Real Estate Certificate from the Taubman School of Architecture at the University of Michigan. Catherine grew up in the Detroit area, beginning her career in local community development, and then spent several years working for professional development firm in the Middle East building positive relations among Arabs and Americans through cross-cultural exchange experiences. Catherine is passionate about all things Detroit!
Anthony DeBardelaben, Workforce Development Manager
Southwest Economic Solutions (http://www.swsol.org/hoc)
Anthony DeBardelaben knows just what he wants when it comes to the DRFP: Strong knowledge of economic development, an understanding of planners and the business community, and concrete networks to compliment a strong cohort that will last throughout his career.
The Saginaw, Michigan native is now part of Southwest Economic Solutions, operating as its Workforce Development Manager. He implements stand-alone projects, tasks and assignments mainly centered on the Detroit Future City strategic plan. As a natural collaborator, Anthony has maximized opportunities to build bridges on behalf of Southwest Economic Solutions to other agencies such as the Greening of Detroit, MIAT College of Technology, the City of Detroit, MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation), and the Detroit Regional Chambers.
While in Saginaw, Anthony served as part of the executive team of the Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS). Among his numerous leadership responsibilities, he worked in economic development. His work on behalf of this Agency included the development of a Transportation Enhancement Projects which resulted in more than $3.8 million in grant awards. He also operated a fund accounting system that oversaw general, operational and capital funds.
Anthony holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan in Flint/Ann Arbor. He, furthermore, acquired public policy expertise while pursuing a Master of Science in Public Administration from Central Michigan University while working in relevant public policy positions. He received a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Western Michigan University. As a career goal, Anthony seeks to implement municipal policies and supervise the day-to-day operations of a city’s departments.
Anthony is a member of the American Society for Public Administrators (ASPA), National Forum of Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). He is listed in Cambridge’s Who’s Who among Executives and Professionals. Always making time for others, Anthony is a long-time volunteer site leader for the Thanksgiving Day Meals on Wheels. He is past president of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Gamma Sigma Chapter. Additionally, he is member of the H. York Harrison Lodge #32 (PHA) and the Detroit Chapter of the National Black Master of Business Administration Association (NBMBAA).
Melissa Dittmer, Architect, AIA
Rock Ventures (http://www.bedrockmgt.com/)
Melissa Dittmer has been applying her architecture skills to the revitalization efforts in Detroit for years. Because of her many Detroit-specific design initiatives, she has been asked to write articles on architecture, urban design theory, post industrial strategies, and the professional practice that have been published in critical journals such as Topos, MONU, MetropolisMag, The Plan, Places: Design Observer, and The Architect’s Newspaper. All of her design initiatives consider important contemporary design issues associated with Detroit’s urban environment.
As the in-house architect for Rock Ventures - a proactive organization dedicated to revitalization efforts throughout downtown Detroit – Melissa is responsible for the design review and coordination of current architecture projects, the research, analysis, programming, and conceptual design of future projects, and researching new avenues for development.
Dittmer has been instrumental in the development of many design projects. Most recently, she was a member of the Strategic Framework Long Term Planning team at Hamilton Anderson Associates (HAA). Initially, Melissa was responsible for the development of land use and neighborhood strategies. She then led the graphic design of Detroit Future City, a 350-page document that summarized the team’s collective research, civic engagement feedback, and Detroit-specific strategies. While at HAA, She also served as director and co-creator of rogueHAA, a volunteer architecture, design, and urban research collaborative. She produced various Detroit‐specific architectural initiatives that included written publications, design installations, panel discussions, symposiums, a Detroit urbanism blog, and architecture exhibitions.
Melissa has a Master in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology. She aims to educate the public and colleagues about the importance of design and architecture in the regeneration of post-industrial cities.
Kirsten Donoghue, Program Manager of Economic Development Initiatives
Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (http://www.grandmontrosedale.com/)
The love of her grandparents is what brought Kirsten Donoghue back to Michigan and to the city of Detroit. She felt the call to make a positive contribution based on early memories of her family and childhood spent in the city. Donoghue will couple that passion and experience with a strong background in community and economic development at the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (GRDC).
As the Program Manager of Economic Development Initiatives at GRDC, she is responsible for leading the expansion of economic and business development programs. Kirsten identifies and recruits businesses to locate in the area, manages commercial real estate development projects, networks with other organizations and assists small businesses and entrepreneurs to connect with resources for business start-up and growth.
Prior to joining the Fellows, Kirsten worked with the Cities of Promise Initiative (CoP) in Hamtramck through AmeriCorps to implement a Safe Routes to School program. The project was granted $1 million through the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to collaborate with six schools on improvements for school transportation. She also previously worked with the Noble Network of Charter Schools as a community organizer in Chicago. While there, she partnered with the Right Angle Foundation and colleges and universities to create summer programming opportunities for underserved Chicago Public Schools students. In these endeavors, Kirsten most enjoyed empowering others to achieve their goals and will bring that social enterprise to her work at GRDC.
Kirsten graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Master of Social Work and a Bachelor of Political Science and Philosophy. She also received a Certificate in Comparative Political and Economic Systems from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Kirsten is glad to be a part of the DRFP because she understands that it is a powerful network of professionals and organizations that will exponentially increase the quality of what is accomplished in Detroit.
Amber Elliott, Assistant Program Officer
Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) (http://www.lisc.org/detroit/)
Amber Elliott has committed herself to being a change agent for her hometown of Detroit. Having been raised in Detroit and from her professional experiences working on behalf of Detroit’s residents, she understands the problems facing the City.
As the Assistant Program Officer for the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), she manages LISC’s investment in community projects that are directly aligned with Detroit Future City, a 2012 effort to develop a strategic framework for Detroit’s future. She reviews and analyzes projects to determine their capacity for funding and their relevance to Detroit Future City.
Elliott worked as a public analyst for Councilman James Tate Jr., where she drafted amendments to the Property Maintenance Code, Scrap Metal Ordinance and the Nuisance Abatement - Repair to Own Ordinance. She volunteered with Organizing for America as Deputy Director of Voter Protection, and played an integral role in addressing Election Day issues in Wayne County. Elliott also served in the Department of Children and Youth Services in the Michigan Attorney General's Office where she litigated child abuse and neglect cases.
Elliott attained her Juris Doctorate from The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan and her Bachelor of Arts from Howard University in Washington D.C. Amber is inspired by the law and community to continue her influential work for the residents and the city.
Diana Flora, Project Manager
Prior to joining the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program and Data Driven Detroit (D3), Diana worked in Detroit for five years on issues of community and economic development, advocacy and organizing, and policy development. She is drawn to the DRFP because of her desire to build capacity in organizations working in urban revitalization.
As Project Manager at D3, Diana supervises and monitors projects, ensuring that D3 designs high-quality products that deliver value to their clients. Recently, Diana managed the high-profile Motor City Mapping project, which brought together stakeholders from the nonprofit and private sectors, as well as every level of government.
As a graduate student, Flora was awarded the Bohnett Leadership and Public Service Fellowship at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. During her Fellowship, she served in the Mayor’s Office working on special projects, where she produced a cost and spatial distribution analysis for modernizing Detroit’s streetlight system. Flora also served as campaign manager for State Representative Rashida Tlaib during her successful 2010 campaign for re-election.
Flora graduated with a dual Master’s degree in Public Policy and Urban Planning and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.
Justin Fried, Corridor Revitalization Director
Jefferson East, Inc. (http://www.jeffersoneast.org/)
Justin Fried’s spark for community development was reignited when he relocated from the San Francisco Bay area to Ann Arbor in support of his wife’s entering a University of Michigan graduate program. During his time exploring and learning about the region, Detroit left an indelible mark on him as a place filled with energy, dedication, and rapid change.
Justin stepped into the role of Corridor Revitalization Director at Jefferson East, Inc. and is responsible for improving the built environment along the East Jefferson Avenue corridor from I-375 to Alter Road on Detroit’s eastside. This includes, but is not limited to, implementing a corridor-wide Streetscape Improvement Program that will transform East Jefferson Avenue into a multi-modal ‘Complete Street’, and fashioning a redevelopment program for both commercial and residential buildings in partnership with The Villages CDC.
Justin began his urban planning career in California at the Center for Transit-Oriented Development. He then took a position managing the City of San Jose’s Island Annexation Program, ushering the annexation of 49 unincorporated islands through public engagement, council approval, and interdepartmental implementation. He also represented the San Jose Planning Department in multi-agency planning activities for extending Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) into Silicon Valley. Fried subsequently worked as a regional planner for the Association of Bay Area Governments, where he spearheaded work on job growth and demographic change for the region’s first-ever Sustainable Communities Strategy, which linked regional housing and transportation plans to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and other sustainability goals.
Justin holds a Master’s in Community and Regional Planning from The University of Texas at Austin. He graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and International Relations. He is excited to apply his public sector land use and transportation planning experience to improving the physical environment along East Jefferson Avenue while learning more about the work of non-profit economic and community development.
Amber Gladney, Project Coordinator
Invest Detroit (http://www.investdetroit.com/)
As they say, “you never miss something until it’s gone.” That is precisely what happened when Michigan Native, Amber Gladney, was living in Chicago. Gladney, who values her Michigan roots, decided to return home to pursue professional work focused on addressing the challenges facing her home state and its largest city. Gladney is determined to use her skills to dissect community and economic development issues and work towards remedies that will bring greater success to Detroit and its residents.
At Invest Detroit, an organization that provides gap financing through a variety of funding tools, she serves as a Project Coordinator where her key duties include community outreach, special projects with a focus on the Urban Retail Loan Fund and sourcing opportunities for grant funding.
Her professional background includes evaluating proposals and recommending grants of more than $1.5 million for community-based organizations throughout Metropolitan Chicago as a Program Officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois in Chicago. While at the Foundation, Amber actively participated in the Community Anti-Violence and Restoration Effort: a City/County collaboration of organizations and community leaders implementing strategies to reduce crime in Chicago. In Michigan, she spent almost six years at Michigan State University Federal Credit Union as an assistant branch manager and loan officer. She has an extensive background in community engagement with diverse populations and customer service.
Gladney earned a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, and two bachelor’s degrees in Communication Studies and Political Science from the University of Michigan. After reacquainting herself with Michigan and establishing Detroit as her home, Amber plans to showcase the region and its attributes to her family and friends.
Amanda Gregory, Director of Material Markets
Eastern Market Corporation (http://www.detroiteasternmarket.com/)
Amanda Gregory has an unwavering commitment to service. Born in Ontario, Canada, and raised in Sand Lake, Michigan, she was interested in coming home to apply her tremendous skills to the revitalization work happening here in Detroit.
Gregory, previously an attorney in the US Marine Corps, is working as the Director of Non-Food Markets for the Eastern Market Corporation. She is responsible for the design and launch of a new products-based Sunday Market, and a Thursday Night Market which combines unique products and prepared food with Detroit nightlife.
While serving as the Officer in Charge of the regional Legal Assistance office of the Marine Corps’ Legal Services Support Team (LSST) in Parris Island, SC, Gregory and her team were awarded the 2012 Distinguished Service Award for Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP) from the American Bar Association (ABA). She led a seven-person litigation team that aided over 2,000 military members and their families with legal services in the beginning portion of 2013. As a civil law attorney serving the Staff Judge Advocate and Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, she provided guidance an expertise on post-trial review, litigation preparation, and government ethics while simultaneously prosecuting over 350 crimes committed by civilians in her appointment as the Special Assistant United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina.
Amanda completed Naval Justice School located in Newport, Rhode Island, for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps as well as Officer Candidate School (13 weeks) and the Basic School (6 months) in Quantico, Virginia, for the U.S. Marine Corps. She received her Juris Doctorate from New York Law School in and her Bachelors in Sociology and Anthropology from Purdue University with minors in Psychology and Forensic Science. Growth and Impact, professionally, personally, and collectively with her cohort are two words that sum up Gregory’s aspirations during her time in the DRFP.
Jerrell Harris, Placemaking and Planning Manager
Focus: HOPE (http://www.focushope.edu/)
Hailing from Albany, Georgia and moving to Detroit from Washington, DC, Jerrell Harris welcomed the opportunity to relocate with open arms and an open mind. His reasons for choosing Detroit are numerous-affordable living, career advancement and proximity to other major cities, among others. He attributes those characteristics to his choice of living in Detroit for many years to come.
Serving as Focus: HOPE’s Placemaking and Planning Manager, he works with neighborhood residents and stakeholders to create a comprehensive vision for physical redevelopment in the HOPE Village area. He uses innovative placemaking strategies to encourage housing rehabilitation and new construction.
His attraction to community engagement and improving quality of life in the city began in Riviera Beach, Florida, where he served as the Principal Planner and Planning and Zoning Administrator for the city. While there, Harris led the redevelopment of a severely underutilized beach front into a multipurpose recreational destination. In addition, he leveraged one million dollars of Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds to rehabilitation 11 vacant homes, adding to the city’s affordable housing stock. Harris also acted as the Vice President of Operations at the Urban Farmers, Inc. in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he instituted a construction job training program for ex-offenders, helping them reach economic self-sufficiency.
Jerrell obtained his Master of Urban Policy Studies and Bachelor of Sociology from Georgia State University. During his fellowship, Jerrell plans to create and implement a sustainable housing improvement program in combination with an economic development strategy for Focus: HOPE and the HOPE Village initiative.
Freyja Harris, Program Officer
Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation (http://www.mmfisher.org/)
Freyja Harris is a veteran within urban planning and public administration. Through years of experience, Harris has demonstrated a passion for policy and regulations connected to affordable housing and poverty reduction.
Prior to her acceptance into DRFP, Freyja was already a year into her position as Program Officer at the Fisher Foundation. She manages a portfolio of grants for nonprofit organizations in Detroit, as well as internationally, to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities of Detroiters.
Harris applied to DRFP because of her respect for Detroit’s history, a desire to better understand Detroit’s challenges and to become part of the solution while also connecting with a group of equally motivated and dedicated professionals. Prior to working for the Fisher Foundation, Harris served as Project Manager of the Michigan Benefits Access (MBA) Initiative at the Michigan Association of United Ways in Lansing. Her responsibilities included the development, training and marketing of a statewide online benefits application system created by the Michigan Department of Human Services. Previously, she also held positions focused on affordable housing policy and projects impacting special needs populations such as, people experiencing homelessness or at-risk, people with disabilities, migrant workers and the elderly. Specifically, she administered various HUD funded programs and managed grantees for government and non-profit organizations in both Florida and Colorado.
Harris received dual master degrees in Public Administration and Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Colorado in Denver. She also completed a Certificate in Paralegal Studies at the Denver Paralegal Institute in addition to a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Florida in Gainesville, not far from her hometown of Tallahassee. As a Fellow, Freyja seeks to redefine grant decision-making and aims to infuse this knowledge with a deeper understanding of Detroit’s issues while supporting investment within critical need areas.
Mike Madej, Community Engagement Manager
The Greening of Detroit (http://www.greeningofdetroit.com/)
Mike Madej is one of two fellows returning home to take part in the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program (DRFP). The Ann Arbor native was drawn back to Michigan by the opportunity to take a leadership role in improving strategies and processes relating to important projects happening in Detroit.
After spending the last five years working on various community development projects in New Orleans, he now serves as the Community Engagement Manager for The Greening of Detroit. The non-profit resource agency partners with federal, state and local agencies, corporations and foundations to assist neighborhood groups, churches and schools in their efforts to improve communities throughout Detroit. Madej is responsible for evaluating, developing and implementing an enhanced community engagement model for the organization.
Prior to taking on his role through the DRFP, Madej was a Community Planner for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in New Orleans. In addition to his time there, he worked with the New Orleans Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office and spent two years as a business development volunteer for the Peace Corps in Kenya.
Mike earned a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Western Michigan University. Madej is ready to challenge his managerial skills through this experience and develop himself both professionally and personally.
Keegan Mahoney, Program Officer
Hudson Webber Foundation (http://www.hudson-webber.org/)
The opportunity to work with a network of talented people from different backgrounds to improve the quality of life in Detroit is what interested Keegan Mahoney in becoming a Detroit Revitalization Fellow.
As the Program Officer at the Hudson-Webber Foundation, Mahoney is responsible for coordinating the Foundation’s program activities in the areas of Physical Revitalization, Economic Development, Arts & Culture, and Safe Community. Keegan is providing capacity to the 75-year-old Foundation with deep Detroit roots by working with community groups and nonprofit organizations to identify, implement and evaluate grant opportunities that contribute to dense, distinct, walkable and safe neighborhoods.
Keegan has a strong background in aligning financial resources with community needs. As the former Director of Grants for United Way of Southeastern Michigan, he helped the organization transition to a diversified revenue business model to better support heath, economic and educational outcomes for Metro Detroiters. He also led the design of a Social Innovation Fund program that attracted $10 million in federal funds to enhance the effectiveness and evidence-base of early childhood resources delivered by community organizations. Prior to that, Mahoney was the Housing Development Director at the Greater Corktown Development Corporation where he managed sales, homebuyer assistance and pre-development activities for new residential construction in the North Corktown neighborhood. Having rehabilitated an abandoned house in the West Village neighborhood where he and his wife now live, Keegan has developed a personal appreciation for the joys—and understanding of the challenges—that come with being engaged in the revitalization of Detroit’s neighborhoods.
Mahoney graduated from Wayne State University with a Master of Business Administration and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Michigan. He is eager to be an active, intuitive professional with a positive influence in his community.
Victoria Olivier, Program Manager
Detroit Future City (http://www.detroitfuturecity.com/)
After attending a wedding in Cleveland in 2011, Victoria Olivier extended her trip so she could finally see Detroit. A Wheelhouse Detroit Auto Heritage bike tour on Sunday morning turned out to be the perfect introduction. Not only did she benefit from the former Detroit City Council President as a personal tour guide, but the past Director of the Motor Cities National Heritage Area treated her to a detailed driving tour and dinner with her family at Polish Village afterward. This experience gave her the opportunity to feel and see the complexities of Detroit and what makes her thrive and, in a way, prepared her for her future with DRFP.
Inspiring architecture, strong-willed residents, and the incredible creativity of motivated young professionals is what drew her to this “big, small town” after living in New Orleans for eight years. As a Program Manager at Detroit Future City, she is supporting several areas of the framework including Neighborhoods and City Systems, with a focus on integrating arts and culture into the implementation of the Strategic Framework.
Olivier’s interest in architecture, neighborhood based planning and creative solutions to blight stem from extensive work in New Orleans. Before DRFP, she worked on the Post-Katrina recovery, specifically in neighborhood advocacy, at the Preservation Resource Center. She also held a position as the Historic Preservation Specialist and the Project Manager under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Louisiana Recovery Office. There she implemented a 1.8 billion dollar FEMA master plan for the Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District where she provided technical assistance for renovations to historic schools and new construction in historic districts and managed contracts.
Victoria remained in her home state of Virginia as she attended the University of Virginia, double majoring in Urban and Environmental Planning and American Studies with a minor in Architectural History. She received her Master of Urban and Regional Planning with a Certificate in Historic Preservation at the University of New Orleans. Her focus during the Fellowship is to further widen her urban planning skill-set and be effective in partnerships that truly address the unique needs of Detroit. She plans to propel out of that middle phase in her field and become that leader who makes a difference.
Ed Potas, Real Estate Development Project Manager
A native Detroiter, Edward Potas has made his mark through various community revitalization efforts in the city. He is focused on using his time in the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program to amplify his participation in navigating complex urban life issues.
Since April of 2011, Potas has served Midtown Detroit, Inc. as its Real Estate Development Project Manager. He oversees pre-development activities including acquisition, construction and operations for real estate activities and manages economic growth initiatives relating to the Midtown Anchor Strategy including the Live Midtown employer assisted housing program.
Potas’s development experience in Detroit includes working with the Greater Corktown Development Corporation, where he managed the construction of 29 single family homes on in-fill sites, and founding the Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation as a platform for real estate interventions and developments in the neighborhood that he and his family call home. As an avid cyclist he co-founded the annual Tour de Troit mass cycling event in 2002 to promote the hidden gems of the city from a non-motorized perspective.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physics at the University of Michigan in Dearborn. Edward looks forward to adding more connections to his vast professional network and the chance to continue strengthening his urban redevelopment reputation.
Robin Wachen, Senior Project Manager
Detroit Future City (http://www.detroitfuturecity.com/)
Timing could not have been more perfect for Fellow Robin Wachen. Her graduation in 2012 from California Polytechnic State University with a Master in City and Regional Planning was timed perfectly to allow her to apply for and join DRFP’s second cohort. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she was attracted to Detroit by a desire to understand the economic and community dynamics of the city.
Detroit Future City (DFC) is utilizing Wachen’s skills as their Senior Project Manager. She is an active participant on DFC’s Implementation Team where she provides direction and management to ensure the execution of the Strategic Framework Plan and other projects geared towards creating a better quality of life for Detroiters.
While in graduate school she maintained planning internships and worked with studio groups where she spearheaded many projects such as preparing a report for a county housing trust fund and developing a neighborhood plan for the Long Beach, California redevelopment agency. As Project Manager for Trinity Real Estate in New York City, she independently managed capital projects for a 5 million square foot portfolio of commercial and retail space in downtown Manhattan. Prior to that position, she worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as Manager of Capital Projects and Infrastructure. There, she developed solutions to established companies that had issues addressing complex client service needs.
Complementing her masters, Robin received her Bachelor of Architectural Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. Robin’s main goal while in DRFP: Becoming a stronger leader.
Eric Wilson, Planning and Development Manager
Downtown Detroit Partnership (http://www.downtowndetroit.org/)
Eric Wilson discovered his passion for cities in the unlikeliest of places — in Samoa, far away from a major city. During his three-year commitment as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Pacific Island country, Eric experienced the impacts of rapid urban growth and became interested in creating great cities for people to live and work.
More than a decade later, after stops as a city planner in New York City and Abu Dhabi, Eric is primed to push Detroit’s revitalization forward as Planning and Development Manager for the Downtown Detroit Partnership. He is responsible for working with Downtown Detroit’s property and business owners to renovate and build new residential and office spaces, and create special places for people to enjoy.
Originally from Colorado, Eric was drawn to the DRFP because it presents unique opportunities to connect many revitalization efforts taking place across Detroit’s vast geography. He comes to the program after working for four years as a Planning Manager with the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, where he developed a downtown revitalization plan for the city of Al Ain in the UAE. Prior to his work in the UAE, Eric served as a City Planner for eight years with both the New York City Department of City Planning and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where he worked primarily in upper Manhattan and the south Bronx.
Eric graduated from Cornell University with a Master of City and Regional Planning and holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Environmental Conservation and Plant Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is interested in leveraging the strong sense of collaborative community in Detroit and plans to use the opportunities that DRFP offers to expand on that mission.
Sandra Yu, Senior Manager for Strategic Initiatives
Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (http://www.dwej.org/)
Ypsilanti, Michigan, could not confine this environmental justice enthusiast and activist. Sandra Yu is one who is devoted to civic development, green workforce initiatives and development of all types for the benefit of the community.
Yu is the Senior Manager for Strategic Initiatives at Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ). Her duties incorporate the overall strategic direction and progress for DWEJ, including analysis and research, fostering relationships, encouraging new programming and shaping program efforts of the organization.
After her return from a teaching position in Monterrey, Mexico, Sandra began her career with various projects for DWEJ. She organized the 2011 Environmental Summit that gathered almost 200 residents and city officials to discuss environmental issues relating to Detroit’s urban revitalization efforts. She also spearheaded the publishing of the 2013 Detroit Environmental Agenda and Voter Guide, in collaboration with local organizations and advocates. Sandra was also an active player in Declare Detroit and helped draft the organization’s declaration. (Declare Detroit).
Sandra attained her Masters in City Planning and a Bachelor of Science in Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sandra is also a member of Mack Ave Community Church in the lower east side of Detroit, and serves on the board of MACC Development CDC. Always willing to uplift others, Yu challenges her cohort to represent DRFP as an organization committed to justice, equality and inclusion.