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Emerging Detroit leaders travel to Europe through WSU-administered Marshall Memorial Fellowship

April 30, 2013

 

 

Five promising young professionals from metro Detroit will travel to Europe this year as part of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a leadership exchange initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, for which Wayne State University acts as a regional partner.
 
The fellows, who were selected in February, will travel during one of two 24-day programs scheduled for summer and fall. They will begin their visit in Brussels, then split up to visit an additional four European cities that have been individually selected for them based on the learning objectives they described in their fellowship applications. These personalized travel itineraries are not yet available.
 
A goal of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship is to encourage Europeans and Americans to collaborate on a range of international and domestic policy challenges. Because of Wayne State’s role as a regional partner, Detroit is an annual stop for European fellows visiting the United States. This year’s Detroit fellows, introduced below, look forward to sharing Detroit’s success stories with their European host and bringing European urban renewal strategies back to the Motor City.
 
Education champion
 
Nicole de Beaufort, vice president of communications and community engagement for Excellent Schools Detroit, is seeking insight into European approaches to secondary education. She would particularly like to visit Finland, “where they’ve really figured out the K-12 system,” and Italy, which boasts a strong early education system.
 
De Beaufort, who studied sociology and anthropology at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., said she has always been interested in comparative cultures and looks forward to an exchange of ideas.
 
“This is an opportunity to dig into things that I’m working on in Detroit from an international lens,” she said. “At Excellent Schools Detroit, we’re cultivating conditions to ensure that every child in Detroit receives a high quality education from cradle to career. We look at all pieces of the system that ensure the best quality education, and hopefully this is an opportunity to learn what Europeans are doing and to share the good things we’re working on in Detroit with folks in Europe.”
 
De Beaufort, who before joining Excellent Schools Detroit was in charge of internal, digital program and policy communications for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, said she would also enjoy meeting with European advertising companies who have improved public perceptions of secondary education through social issues campaigns.  De Beaufort will travel in June and July.
 
Community developer
 
Kirk Mayes, who will travel in October, is the executive director of the Brightmoor Alliance, a community-based organization dedicated to the revitalization of the northwest Detroit neighborhood. Mayes is eager to visit European cities that have undertaken large-scale recovery and redevelopment efforts, such as the remarkable renewal achieved by Berlin after World War II. Mayes, who works with “underserved and under-resourced people,” believes Detroit requires the same resources expended in post-war zones or areas struck by earthquakes.
 
“After a natural disaster, there’s a recognition that the system and infrastructure need to be completely rebuilt,” Mayes said. “In this post-industrial era, we have not fully bought into the idea that many of ours systems and much of our infrastructure need to be rebuilt. We’ve been using capitalism and our nonprofit sector models and hoping to do it on our own, but we might need a more intentional involvement from the government in urban development and restructuring our economy.”
 
Mayes hopes to share with his European hosts the insights he has gained about the value of community input in development initiatives.
 
“Social capital and grassroots political capital is in many ways more valuable than financial capital,” Mayes said. “You can’t always throw money at a problem; you need buy-in and vigor from the people to get the change to take root. Detroit is still a vibrant place, and there is a bright future based on the people here. Our city is well-positioned to deal with the challenges of life in a post-industrial era and to change the way we think about life in urban societies. Detroit could be part of coming up with a solution for America’s cities, and once we get this right we can be an example to the whole world.”
 
 
Social entrepreneur
 
Marlowe Stoudamire, who serves as project director of strategic development and corporate planning for Henry Ford Health System (HFHS), has three objectives for his fellowship:  to learn how European regulators are tracking the growth of social entrepreneurship, to see how Europe is attracting and retaining young talent, and to see how old, historic cities are conducting urban revitalization.
 
At HFHS, Stoudamire conducts situation analyses and feasibility studies for going global, however he believes his experience overseas this summer may have a greater impact on his community engagement work as board vice president of Detroit Harmonie. The nonprofit breaks down racial barriers and strives to make Detroit a dynamic place and environment for “the next generation.”
 
“I want to figure out if and how Europe leverages people as their number one commodity for breathing life into areas on life support or for areas that are trending down in terms of population, development and arts and culture,” said Stoudamire, who will travel in June and July. Noting that the United States and Europe have both struggled with fragile financial systems and population declines, he wants in Europe “to get a comprehensive view of where success stories were during challenging times” so he can apply the lessons in Detroit.
 
At the same time, Stoudamire sees in himself a powerful example for his European counterparts. He grew up in Detroit’s 48205 zip code, dubbed the city’s deadliest neighborhood. 
 
“Everything I saw outside of my house was negative; there was no diversity, and it made me have a desire at a young age to see how other people lived and thought,” said Stoudamire, who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Wayne State University and a Master of Science with an international administration concentration from Central Michigan University.
 
“I want them first and foremost to take a look at me as a young black male from the 48205 zip code understand that I was not supposed to make it and that there are a lot of other people like me who weren’t supposed to make it,” said Stoudamire, who was named to the 2012 class of Crain’s Detroit Business 40 under 40. 
 
“Right now, although Detroit has a lot of challenges, this is truly a land of opportunity, where you can succeed with the right connections, attitude, skills and talent. If people from Europe want to come here, Detroit could be the next ‘New Berlin’ of the world,” Stoudamire added, referring, as did Mayes, to the German capital’s rebirth after the physical and economic ravages of World War II.
 
Communications guru 
 
Mike Medow, co-director of Allied Media Projects (AMP), wants to see European advances in the areas of community-based education, economic development and media arts, and media-based communication and infrastructure.
 
“This is a tremendous opportunity,” Medow said. “I’ve felt deep in the trenches while developing Allied Media Projects for the past seven years, and I want to get outside of the local context I work in every day and get outside perspective.”
 
AMP grew out of the annual Allied Media Conference, which began in 1999 as a “celebration of independent publishing and do-it-yourself culture.” Medow began working at AMP while finishing his Bachelor of Political Science at University of Michigan, and led the process of moving the Allied Media Conference from its original home in Bowling Green, Ohio to Detroit, in 2007. AMP’s local programs model and innovate practices in education, economic development, and community organizing. 
 
Medow, whose work at AMP includes coordinating business strategy, communications and website development in support of various programs, said he is particularly interested in seeing how Detroit could benefit from the advanced models for community wireless Internet infrastructure that have been adopted in European cities such as Athens. 
 
Medow, who will travel in October, is also a founder and manager of the award-winning record label and art production company Emergence Media with hip-hop artist Invincible.
 
Crusader for mental health and the homeless
 
Carina Yanish, who will be traveling in October, is the chief operations officer for Mariners Inn, a Detroit-based treatment center and shelter for men. Her goal, she said, is to better understand how Europe ministers to the populations that Mariners serves.
 
“Detroit, and the United States in general, is going through a transition in health care, and it will influence our funding and the services our clients receive,” Yanish said. “Other countries have systems in place for dealing with the homeless, substance abuse and mental health that we could learn from.”
 
Yanish was a management consultant for seven years before launching Youth Vision, a nonprofit organization providing after school programs and summer camp to Southwest Detroit children, in 2002. She also campaigned for Saunteel Jenkins during her successful 2010 bid for Detroit City Council, later becoming Jenkins’ chief of staff and advisor on issues such as youth violence.
 
Yanish is particularly interested in European approaches to family reunification after substance abuse recovery, and she admits to having another goal while in Europe: exploring the role of women in government. During the application process, she expressed a wish to meet a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s staff, and hopes to better understand why more European than American women ascend to positions of political power. Yanish, whose mother inspired her by receiving her GED in her forties and attending college in her seventies, believes that empowering young women can have a host of societal benefits, particularly with respect to preserving the cohesion of the family unit.