CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE
My vision for Washtenaw County is Revolutionary Change. According to Merriam-Webster, REVOLUTION is a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something. Our attitude on the path to racial equality is about taking the action to achieve bold, structural changes and powering through disruptive forces and untangling policies and practices that are unjust. My vision includes talking to our community to hear their experience, leveraging data and reports on racial inequality, and rolling up our sleeves to get to work. This means my vison is threefold for Revolutionary Change in Washtenaw County: Engagement, Evidence-driven and a movement of intentional action on racial equity. If you were to take a snapshot of the future, you would see active projects to address racial equity led by people of color, new community partnerships, and recognition and celebration of progress. This would not be the end of the road, but we would be motivated to continue toward full justice.
It takes a great deal of work for a group of strangers to achieve the safety of true community. Our folks know it is safe to share their heart. People in our group know they will be listened to and accepted for themselves. Years and years of pent-up frustration and hurt and guilt and grief have already been dealt with. Vulnerability is commonplace for us and flows in our community. We do not practice the rugged individualism that has become the hallmark of America.
We understand that most human attempts to heal and convert prevent community. For us, community is the answer. We have created a truly safe place, where these defenses and resistances are no longer necessary, and the thrust toward health is liberated. This safe place has unleashed the natural tendency for us to heal and convert ourselves.
We have learned that it is within our power to listen to each other, to accept each other, and that our relationships are therapeutic. So we focus not so much on healing as on making our relationships a safe place where each of us is likely to heal themselves.
Paradoxically, we became healing and converting only after we learned to stop trying to heal and convert.
Our community is a safe place precisely because we are not attempting to heal or convert each other, to fix each other, to change each other. Instead, we accept each other as we are. You are free to be you. And being so free, you are free to discard defenses, masks, disguises; free to seek your own psychological and spiritual health; free to become your whole and holy self. We are a community who has learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to “rejoice together, mourn together,” and to “delight in each other, to make each others’ conditions our own.” We call it Wakanda Washtenaw. It is the product of the Kwanzaa Project, where the theme of Raising Royalty has been fleshed out.
Even more amazing is seeing this in all 50 school sites. The Parent Village and the Youth Council have been responsible for the rapid spread of this positive virus. We have learned to work together to solve our own problems.
The six metrics of the Raising Royalty theme are so present, they have made community building attractive and possible. The six metrics are the objectives: Mission, Love, Stewardship, Wisdom, Community, and Discipline.
The Washtenaw County I envision and work towards is a place where members believe in the interconnected nature of our community. Members of our community hold a culture of curiosity and compassion that drives a desire to withhold judgement, ask questions, and appreciate differences.
Our community thrives when members both have and create spaces that honor their lived-experiences and acknowledge the complexities of social identities, to an end of deepening our understandings of ourselves and each other so we may act in our interests. These actions run the gamut, from a kind smile or nod to each other in passing, to policies that are cognizant and inclusive of the spectrum of experiences that exist in our community.
My credentialed background includes a MA in Diversity and Social Justice in Higher Education from the University of Michigan. I am an intergroup and intragroup dialogue practitioner—my praxis includes the four-stage model of intergroup dialogue, and sociology-based notions of conflict and psychology’s contact theory. I have faith and belief in the power of dialogue to bridge differences, and spark a desire for social change.
I am interested in growing our community’s awareness of social identity-based inequalities and inequities, ability to engage in self-reflection, capacities to share their own experiences and receive others’, and skills to serve as effective allies and advocates for social change.
I foresee Washtenaw County as a county that changes the context of the story on inequity, discrimination, and separatism. I envision all Washtenaw County communities engaging in conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion; breaking down barriers that create disparities; and implementing transformative sustainable change that builds equitable access to education, healthcare, mental health services, employment, and wealth. Systemic change work encompasses self-reflection, awareness, networking, partnerships, community dialogue, advocacy, and policy change. I am committed to changing the narrative as my work focuses on youth development, skill building, eliminating the achievement gap, and changing the trajectory of young persons’ lives.
I'd like to see a place that is on its way to becoming free from the astonishing levels of violence that have been made "necessary" to maintain the gross imbalances of power along racial, class, and sexual lines. I want to know that, on a cultural/social level, I'd be able to travel anywhere and know that I would feel welcome, accepted and understood. I'd like to see a place where our resident's chances in life are not predetermined by whether they happen to be "insiders" or "outsiders" in the various power categories mentioned above. I'd like to see the all of the institutions of our county—educational, political, legal, etc.—functioning with a deep awareness of the ways they've historically been constructed to create "insiders" and "outsiders", and that they were actively working to restructure themselves to achieve fairer, more equitable life outcomes for our residents.
Many believe that "children are our future." When I think about how much additional work needs to be done to combat systems of oppression, I also consider how such systems, impact today's youth, as they strive to become leaders of the future. I believe that when young people have their basic needs met, safe communities, trusted adults, equity, and barrier-free access to resources, they are destined to achieve their fullest potential.
I have been dedicated to social justice work, with the intent to help improve the conditions of systemic oppression. I firmly believe that failed systems create communities with; high crime, mental/behavioral health stigma, high unemployment rates, housing insecurity, low performing schools, mass incarceration and many other disparities that marginalized communities disproportionately experience. I have had the privilege of working in multiple professional roles with many youth, families and single adults, served by nonprofits since 2002.
Marv Fox Jr.
In my experience in working with students in higher education and professionals in profit and non-profit sectors, one truth remains constant 100% of the time…the brightest, best, and most productive are always intrinsically inspired by a higher calling that empowers them to persist and thrive through impossible odds. The key ingredient in their will to power through and perform on the highest level is Purpose.
My Purpose is to help brave and highly ambitious people discover the identity that will help them live the life of their dreams, help their family, improve industry, and their community. I want to be instrumental in helping Washtenaw County live a Purpose-centered Life. When people show up in purpose, they show up as the highest versions of themselves. Purpose engages and clarifies the spirit, heart, and mind unlocks imagination and expertise and develops fortitude.
My goal is to provide purpose programming that uses purpose to explore:
So often, beautifully spirited children, teens, and adults never experience what it feels like to have confidence in their unique skillset, identity, and background, which can translate into an awesome and hard-working person living an unfulfilled life. I want to change that. I want to create as much conversation about purpose as possible to provide a success manifesto and inject a feeling of confidence and worthiness to ensure the future of Washtenaw Community isn’t just working hard, but working hard in using their genius-level talent and passion to improve themselves, their family, industry, and their community.
Please visit www.MarvFoxjr.com for more information.
As a son of refugee parents, with ties to the Indian and Latinx community, having lived in the deep south and worked with people around the world, I live at the intersectionality of the east and west, the global north and south, science and spirituality, grit and miracles. I am passionate about social justice and equity in our Washtenaw community as well as for our black brothers and sisters in Detroit, and across the country. I was privileged to receive the gift of education from some of the best institutions globally, and a 25+ year career in the tech sector that gave me life changing opportunities to make a difference in the board rooms to the front lines. Inevitably I made a conscious decision to work in the more consequential ‘arena’ - the non-profit and philanthropic sector, in this second inning of life. We are now in an unprecedented period, created by a viral pandemic and racial reckoning, that could be the most significant time in a generation, taking stock of what has worked and what needs to be overhauled in our economic, health, education, societal, government and corporate systems. It is hopefully the time for a transformation, as when a caterpillar dies to itself, but eventually emerges as a butterfly. The difference is that our change has to be a conscious choice and process - we have to choose to evolve. Leadership now requires demonstrating what it means to have a purpose, cultivated consciously, focusing on the long-term, creating a culture of trust, love and caring, ultimately leading to the triple bottom line of creating a win-win-win for people and the planet. Am keenly interested in helping nonprofits and social enterprises going through transformation, program innovation, technological change, talent and cultural renewal, rebranding and new business development. Causes I care about the most include empowering women, the elderly and disabled, social justice, sustainability, financial inclusion, fair trade, urban renewal, digital learning and healthcare for all. As a servant leader I take this quote from Lao-tzu to heart - Of a good leader, who talks little, when the work is done, the aim fulfilled, they will say ‘we did it ourselves’. My hope is that the silver lining from this experience that has forced us to distance ourselves from each other, can be one that forces us to realize just how interdependent we are. We suffer to get well, we surrender to win, we give it away to keep it. Let’s shape the new world order with love, compassion, courage and equity. When one part is hurt, we all feel that pain, and if one part is liberated, we all will share in the joy!
From a child, I was told I was a leader, I was told people followed me, I set trends. I did not know what that meant fully for a long time. Once I embraced it due to patriarchy, racism, and classicism, I was frequently left out of the conversations and roles I sought, however, I decided in the effort to make my world a more equitable place, my voice would be heard, I inserted myself in places and began to listen and learn, and then contribute. If I wanted a better a Washtenaw County, I had to offer what I have, and I'm not even sure I knew all of it. Continuing on this journey this fellowship has allowed me to establish new personal, heart, and mind connections. I have a greater ability to speak up with confidence not anger, and fear. I'm going to continue to lead in the places I am, whether that's in the classroom, community or rooms full of bureaucracy, to make the future better I'll do what needs to be done, I will not be perfect, but I am a catalyst for change that has to happen, and in this time in the world, boots to the ground. I pray to continue to set positive trends in my community and charge forward with the strength of my ancestors.
My vision for Washtenaw County is progressive, holistic, yet still reasonably attainable. It encompasses education reform (including higher ed pipeline, community and anti-racism education), development of STEM and technical programs, college and career development, and culturally relevant community programs for Blacks and Latinx. Community building initiatives are key in connecting diverse communities and fostering understanding, cultural appreciation, and civic consciousness. With the expanse in technological advancement and tech related jobs, technical education and collaboratives could provide access to crucial training with the potential to decrease poverty and fuse racial disparities in tech. Partnerships with institutions like the University of Michigan and Google Ann Arbor can be utilized to aid in dissolving both racial and socioeconomic divides. Washtenaw County is home to Michigan's premiere higher education institution and I’d like to see an improved education pipeline that widens access to underrepresented students of color. It seems that Washtenaw County boasts a lot of structural diversity, however, my experience with many spaces and institutions demonstrate that these environments and communities are not inclusive. We must move beyond tolerance towards inclusion and understanding. Community education is key in repositioning problematic racist postures that continue to marginalize and disenfranchise people of color; thus, fracturing communities. My vision incorporates the elevation of cultural events and art through meaningful cultural exchange. True diversity is beneficial to all parties and I’d like to see a Washtenaw County that is receptive to the contributions of people of color. Real Estate has long been re ective of racial divides and this redlining is also re ective in local neighborhoods. Affordable housing initiatives, rst time homebuyers' education and housing related sponsored programs (down payment assistance, subsidized housing, etc) are vital to improving racial equity in my view. Holistically, my vision also includes a Washtenaw County committed towards honoring not just all races, cultures, genders and religions, but the planet. Environmental consciousness/sustainability, permaculture and accessible farmers markets, recycling programs, and eco community education are vital to all of our quality of life. I understand that in just shy of 6 years we cannot solve these problems; however, we can work towards establishing strategic plans, collaborations, initiatives, funding and programs that will catapult us in the right direction towards truer equity, diversity, inclusion, and cultural appreciation.
My vision for Washtenaw County has a specific focus on K-12 students. Working in a school district with resources and mostly white students, but living in a school district with few resources and mostly Black students, I see first hand the inequities in education. Although the students have different access to resources they all need to feel valued and affirmed, especially those who are marginalized. Teaching educators to develop and practice cultural competencies serves all our students which in turn will improve their achievements. I welcome the opportunity to continue to discuss and train anyone in the community especially teachers, who wish to expand their cultural knowledge in order to better serve our marginalized communities.
I am the proud daughter of two immigrant parents who instilled in me the importance community service and giving back. I am a compassionate advocate for human rights; including the rights of women, children, those who identify as males and LGBT+ with over a decade of experience in the profession of advocacy, domestic violence and sexual assault, and social justice. My vision for Washtenaw County includes affordable housing and more resources for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
A dream I have for my local neighborhoods in Ypsilanti looks like an intentional network of cooperative resource exchanges and food sovereignty programs that are lead by people from the bottom up; femmes, queers, and working class folk who know what their needs are and how to achieve them. We are manifesting this at the Mutual Aid Network of Ypsilanti (the MANY), a project focused on meeting people's most basic, material and emotional needs through collaboration, sharing, and direct action.
I was raised in Northern Canada, have lived in India, but truly grew up in Ann Arbor over my 20 years here. This city is where I learned, connected, networked, failed, overcame and experienced many memorable joys that have led me to where I am today. I can be the light in the room, the listening ear, the mentor or the outside-the-lines thinker for a greater impact. I have a Bachelors in Business Management and am currently pursuing a Masters in Strategic Communications at Michigan State University. I have a long and varied career at Toyota Motor North America and am currently responsible for their Community Relations division for Michigan. Over the years, I have served on many non-profit boards, and continue to serve as a City of Ann Arbor Parks Commissioner. I was honored with a mayoral proclamation from the City of Ann Arbor for volunteerism. I am working on creating awareness of the divide between borders in Washtenaw County with access to equal opportunity. My goal is to continue to bring collaboration across boundaries in our community to create dialogue, partnerships and common goals here in our county. Praveena means “well cultured and skillful” and I aim to live up to my namesake.
My vision for Washtenaw County is to have an increase of people of color in leadership at local agencies and to have a formalized network for leaders of color in Washtenaw County. I truly believe the Leaders of Color Fellowship has provided a launch point for this kind of network. There have been spaces in the community and informal groups such as Professionals of Color that I have been connected with, but a formalized network comprised of a leadership board to oversee the yearly vision of a Professionals of Color Network would be my vision for the county. This network would serve to provide a space of support for professionals of color, professional development and mentorship for professionals of color, and a leadership board that would provide recommendations to agencies, insight or hiring and retention trends, and advocacy for professionals of color in the community.
IF WE WERE FREE FROM OPPRESSION, MY VISION FOR WASHTENAW COUNTY WOULD BE: The zip code you live in would no longer determine your economic opportunities, health outcomes or life expectancy. Academic achievement gaps and homelessness would be eliminated. Racism, xenophobia and misogyny would not exist. No one would be marginalized or ostracized. People from every walk of life would work side by side to strengthen our communities. Everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, gender identity, gender expression, income, faith, sexual orientation, or cultural background would have the opportunity to live life to its fullest. All people would be empowered to learn, grow and thrive.
In order for all youth in Washtenaw County to be celebrated and feel valued for his/her/their successes, we as adults have to put forth the energy and resources to create opportunities where youth can succeed. The existing standardized assessments and practices in our education system have to be de- and re-constructed to give our students a diverse and dynamic view of what's possible, and that can start right here in our county. It is vital we recognize that not every student finds success through the same path. We have to offer a myriad of options. Through creative programming that offers exposure to unfamiliar careers, demanding funding for art and music, introducing professionals that mirror the racial, ethnic, lived experiences of our students, we can create meaningful and long-lasting impacts through shared learning and art-making.
I am well versed in the language and syntax of Detroit as an author, educator and neighborhood organizer. I epitomize redemption from the many lessons I learned from my father whom I met in prison for the first time. As a Black organic intellectual, unorthodox leader and father, I have demonstrated my commitment to the revolutionary principles of social justice as activist and organizer to enhance the lives of others across race, religion and class through his works of restoring the neighbor back to the hood.