What is your story with how you got to where you are right now at ProsperUS?
"My position is Innovation Fellow. Last year I applied to a program called Atlas Corps, which brings together non-profit leaders from around the world. People who come here are those with experience in non-profit in their own country. I’m from Mexico City, and I was working in Mexico for human rights for public policy and advocating for the situation in Mexico. I studied international relations and international preparation for development and project management. Most of my experiences have been with fundraising and proposals, partnership with advancing human rights, and evaluation. The program contacts organizations that could match with my specific profile. I had an interview with Chanell and Libby, and something worked out between us. I am the first one ever in the program to come to Detroit, since it was not even on the list of locations that we could choose. It has been wonderful working with ProsperUS."
Coming from Mexico, how is the experience like living in the United States, and specifically in Detroit?
"Mexico City is very different from Detroit. Mexico City is very big; we have 20 million people, and it is easy to get overwhelmed sometimes. There are 700,000 people in Detroit, which allows us to have closer relationships with people in the community, to spend more time talking with people, to have a real experience of our existence, and to feel what is happening here with community development. It is very authentic that people are putting all these effort into making Detroit better."
What were some of the struggles you have overcome in your career?
"It had been hard to work in human rights in Mexico, because human rights regulations have been increasing in the past few years. We were working with families that had someone disappeared or tortured, and it was a very challenging work. It was still hard to leave Mexico, but I was sure that I needed to keep growing, which was why I applied to Atlas Corps. This program is for learning best practices for non-profit here. A challenge is to remain open, to know more perspectives, and to learn new things. Here I learn about businesses that I did not have a chance to do so before. Living in Detroit for a year is enough time to learn about the culture, adaptation, and to see how things work in a different country. I am not a tourist, instead I am becoming part of here. People in Detroit are super friendly and welcoming; it is very easy to work with them. At first, I was super excited to come to Detroit, but there was something about the infrastructure of the city that was hard for foreigners. Mexico City is very walkable, and we have a lot of public transportations. Here in Detroit we don’t. It is hard to get to places without public transportation; although sometimes I bike, it does not work well for long distances. It is also a challenge to understand the seasons here. Since I am active and would love to engage in outdoor activities, it is hard to be inside my house for days. One other struggle for me in the past years was to decide on which field to work in. When I was finishing up university graduation, I wanted to work for the public administration. And then I realized I did not want to do it anymore. I did an internship in an embassy in Mexico, and I found out the lifestyle was not for me. I also never wanted to work in business. Then I decided to work for non-profits, and I think it has been one of the best experiences, because it has been very fulfilling. People working in nonprofits are very different, cooperative, and not as competitive as people working in other fields. I am grateful that I made that decision. In addition, I can see the impact that I am making, because I work directly with people, and I can see easily if their life improves."
To you, what is social entrepreneurship?
"Social entrepreneurship is designing solutions for making life better. It is applying the concept of business to social solutions. It is an initiative people take to respond to social challenges. For me, it means a new approach, which is an innovative way to cooperate and work with people within different sectors. It is very creative. I think social entrepreneurship is driving the city of Detroit. Detroit has a lot of creative people who are very open and value the relationships between people in the community. There are many initiatives to make things better here. Because there are so much to be improved on in the city, a lot of social entrepreneurs are working in areas in terms of the environment, access to healthy food, access to services for people, transportation, and many more, to benefit the community by making a difference every single day."
What is your favorite thing about Detroit? What is something you would change about Detroit?
"I love the authenticity of the city, which I think is very unique. Whenever I’m here, I feel like being in a different dimension. I like how Detroiters support the city’s local brands. Detroit is also a cultural city of music. Probably Detroit is lacking a lot of things, but people here love it and are very proud of it. I would definitely change the transportation system in Detroit, as well as the trash management. Since the city is growing, it would be great to try something innovative in terms of how the city can reduce trash production and promote environment sustainability."