Week 7: Thank You to Our Speakers! – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 7: Thank You to Our Speakers!

One of my favorite guest speakers during our weekly DCERP meetings was the first speaker we had from Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, Raquel Garcia. Through her talk, I could tell that Raquel is very passionate about the work she does as SDEV’s CEO. It was also interesting to hear about the workplace structure of SDEV, because it is quite different from the site I have been working at. 

First, it is incredible that such a small group of people can have such a profound impact in the community. As Raquel pointed out, there are only a handful of full-time staff at the organization. While this can pose challenges at times, it also allows each and every person to play a central role in the work of the nonprofit. Moreover, it seems like there is a very close bond between the staff members because there are so few of them. I think having a smaller organization can allow everyone to get to know each other and to feel comfortable around each other.

Second, I really admire the horizontal leadership of the organization. In one of my recent Spanish classes, we learned about a type of organization called a cooperativa, that also utilizes a horizontal leadership structure where there is no one “leader” of the organization, but rather everyone is on the same level. It was really cool to see that model mirrored at SDEV and to hear from Raquel herself about why it is important to have a structure like that.

I truly appreciated all of the speakers that joined our meetings because it allowed me the opportunity to learn about the other sites, and other nonprofit organizations in general. It was also really useful for the work I was doing at NSO, because it opened up the door for us to create partnerships between NSO and the other nonprofits that fellows are working with.

3 thoughts on “Week 7: Thank You to Our Speakers!”

  1. I hope you get to work for an organization like SDEV someday! I know it would be a perfect fit for you especially because of your passion for the environment and non-profit work!

  2. That’s my executive director!! I feel so lucky to work under her, and the way that we operate in lateral leadership was tricky at first, but is so incredible and gives you so much room for freedom and growth. When people are working on projects they are passionate about, the product comes out so much better. Raquel is so proud and invested in everything she does – when I first met her in person, she cried in a meeting about how much she loves Detroit, but I’ve quickly come to realize that she throws her entire self into everything she does. Its such an honor to work by and learn from her 🙂

  3. Hi Kirsten!
    I completely agree with your point about a smaller organization allowing everyone to feel more comfortable around each other. My organization Great Lakes Now is pretty small, and the team I work with is even smaller. That definitely has helped with making me more comfortable working there. When I attend the larger DPTV staff meetings, I definitely wouldn’t feel as comfortable sharing in front of that large of group as I would in the smaller GLN staff meetings. Thanks for sharing!

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