Stay Informed

Challenge Detroit: I am so inspired

Ursula Adams
Director of Digital Engagement
United Way for Southeastern Michigan

"To those who scoff at the idea of a revitalized Detroit, I would remind them of what aviator Amelia Earhart said: 'Never interrupt someone doing something that you said can’t be done.’” - Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler.

It has been a stellar week as far as I’m concerned. Sergio Marchionne announced that he, along with 70 other Chrysler employees, will move to downtown Detroit. Dan Gilbert pledged his support for United Way publicly. And Challenge Detroit kicked off a new phase with candidate interviews.

A good week for this city – this region – indeed.

If you haven’t heard of Challenge Detroit, I invite you to visit their website and learn more about this special initiative that will bring 30 of tomorrow's leaders to live, work, play, and give in and around the Detroit area for one year.

I’m thrilled that United Way for Southeastern Michigan is not only a Challenge Detroit Host Company, but that we are also one of the nonprofits that will be a benefactor of a Challenge Detroit Team Challenge.

Over 900 people applied to become part of Challenge Detroit. The field has been narrowed to 66. I spent today, along with our Marketing Manager, Paul, meeting with the finalists and interviewing those that have shown an interest in working with United Way during their Challenge Detroit year.

After interviewing candidates for a straight six hours (and losing my voice - us “Digital” people don’t exercise our vocal chords all that often, you know), all I can say is, “Wow!”

I am so inspired.

Today I met a woman who is moving her entire family across the country, from Colorado to Detroit, because her and her husband have been reading about the Detroit revitalization and want to be part of it.

And a woman born and raised in New York that can’t wait to move here.

And a soon-to-be college grad from Wisconsin who has never been to the city before today, but is placing bets on this is where her future is going to start.

And four “locals” who know that they don’t want to follow in the footsteps of so many of their peers – moving out-of-state to start their post-college careers.

“This is my city,” I heard over and over again today.

I know that there are those that think the Challenge Detroit concept is crazy – that 30 people can’t put a dent in decades of decline in just one year. And they’d be right. But, luckily, the 30 participants chosen for Challenge Detroit won’t be doing this work alone. They’ll join the ranks of Sergio Marchionne… and Dan Gilbert… and United Way… and the tens of thousands of United Way donors, volunteers and advocates… and every person at every organization invested in Challenge Detroit…

And me.

I am a believer in the collective power of the people of this region and I’m proud to be part of the movement that won’t be interrupted by the neigh sayers.

Do you believe too? If so, let it be known – drop a comment below and tell me why. I can’t wait to hear your story!