Out of hundreds of applicants, Ashland’s Lauren Strauss was selected as one of only 43 individuals from across the country to participate in Challenge Detroit, a yearlong fellowship focused on revitalizing the city of Detroit.
Challenge Detroit is described as a leadership and professional development program focused on attracting and retaining talent in Detroit in an effort to spur revitalization.
“Challenge Detroit provides talent from across the country the opportunity to work with great companies, as well as the opportunity to give back to Detroit,” said Deirdre Greene Groves, executive director of Challenge Detroit in a recent press release. “Many Fellows have continued to stay in the city well past the end of their program year and still work to make a positive impact on the city.”
Strauss’s family moved to Ashland when she was six years old and she attended school in town.
“I was involved in sports and music while in high school, played girls hockey and soccer as well as was the band majorette,” she said. “My parents still live in town and I try to come back a few times to visit.”
Strauss said she has wanted to work in Detroit since high school and was drawn to this opportunity a few years ago during her time studying architecture and historic preservation at the University of Oregon.
“I wanted to go beyond simply living and working in Detroit and become more involved in the city and the community,” she said. “Challenge Detroit offers me the opportunity to do both — pursue my career and gain valuable experience in my field as well as learn more about Detroit and the exciting things that are happening within its communities.”
According to their website, “Challenge Detroit is a leadership and professional development program that invites approximately 30 of tomorrow's leaders to live, work, play, give, and lead in and around the greater Detroit area for one year. During the course of the year, fellows contribute intellectually and through hands-on service making incremental impact in the community. Learning by doing is a cornerstone of the program and the fellows have the courage, passion, and drive to make a difference.”
“This program is also inspiring to me as a young professional, to see so many people from various fields all come together and work together towards solutions,” said Strauss.
Strauss’s experience will start on Aug. 29 and will conclude at the end of next August.
“During my year in Detroit, I along with my other fellows will gain new insight about the city and the greater Detroit region,” she said. “I will work for a company four days a week and then participate in team challenges each Friday, partnering with local nonprofits. It is through these experiences and challenges that Challenge Detroit hopes to inspire myself, the other fellows and others to not only stay and work in Detroit but also contribute to their community.”
Strauss will be working for partnering host company Quinn Evans Architects and working with leading nonprofits every Friday to address the city’s top challenges.
Another aspect of Challenge Detroit that Strauss noted “is to share the stories of the fellows throughout the year to educate people near and far about the issues and opportunities facing Detroit.”
Strauss said she is looking forward to being able to work in the city and to learn more about Detroit's history and culture.
“The challenges are what I'm looking forward to the most,” she said. “I want to be able to get out in other areas of the city and interact with members of the community who are working hard at impacting Detroit. I also look forward to being part of a group of like-minded individuals who come from different backgrounds and disciplines but all share a common interest in Detroit.
“It's going to be a great year, meeting new people, trying new things and seeing the city. I want to go explore all of the great places that Detroit has to offer and hopefully will get out to a Red Wings game come winter!”
To be accepted into the program, Strauss had to go through a four-step application process with each advancement narrowing down the candidates.
First she had to submit a resume and brief description (a few sentences) of why she want to be in Detroit. Then came a video and essay on what would make her an ideal Challenge Detroit fellow, and next was a community vote on the chosen videos. The fourth and final hurdle was a interview trip with the remaining candidates and the host companies.
Strauss said she would be blogging about her adventures in Detroit.
“If anyone wants to know more about the program or follow on what I and my other fellows will be doing over the year please go to, http://www.challengedetroit.org,” she said. “It is an amazing opportunity and I encourage every young professional to apply, the great thing about this program is that it applies to people from all different fields and involves a diverse group of Detroit companies.”