1. What brought you to Detroit?
My family is from Flint. I studied at the University of Michigan for my master degree in public policy. In summer 2002, I interned at the mayor office in Detroit. Through the internship, I fell in love with Detroit and discovered the potential for Detroit future. I love the people and the culture of Detroit so I decided to stay. Back in 2002, before Detroit declared bankruptcy, Detroit is very different from today. I would say it was an uncertain time since the city already faced some financial troubles. One interesting thing I found out about Detroit is the dynamic of the non-profit sector in Detroit. Sometime when the city government does not meet the need of people, there are always organizations standing out to solve the issues. Many non-profit organizations in Detroit help solve the issue of poverty and inequality. It is a very interesting culture.
2. What’s the motivation for starting MoGo?
Establishing a bike share system in Detroit is not my idea at first. During 2012-2015 when I worked for the Wayne State University as Senior Project Administrator, some community members approach me and brought up the idea of bike share. I found this opportunity exciting because it is both a good opportunity to improve the mobility options for people in Detroit and a leadership opportunity for me to grow and build an organization. In 2013, a feasibility study was conducted, which has served as the road map for implementing bike share in Detroit. Since then, I have been working on assembling different interests including city government and business sectors to make the idea happened.
3. What is a challenge you’ve overcome, both work-related and in general?
There are so many challenges (laughed)! The most challenging thing is uncertainty. Dealing with a lot of things every day, there are many factors outside of your control, such as the federal grant. MoGo is working on the expansion plan now and there are so many issues that need to be worried about including contracting with the community, raising money, getting permit approval, creating social media presence and making sure people understand how to use MoGo. The biggest hurdle is to challenge yourself to stay patient and work diligently even though you cannot move forward sometimes.
4. How would you describe social entrepreneurship?
In my opinion, social entrepreneurship is a sustainable method to provide benefit for society, solving social issues. MoGo’s mission is to give people in Detroit another way to move around and experience the city. MoGo stays true to its mission: with adaptive MoGo and $5 Access Pass, MoGo strives to make bike share an inclusive, accessible and equitable transportation service for riders in Detroit. On the other hand, MoGo also needs to gain revenue and raise money to operate. The challenging part of social entrepreneurship is to navigate the tension between business and its original mission.
5. What’s your vision for MoGo’s future development? What would be some future challenges?
One of the future challenges is how we can expand our service in a car-centered region that lack of public transportation. In the city of Detroit, population density is always a problem. For those area lacks density, how we can improve mobility while keep MoGo going is a problem. I also hope that MoGo can serve as a catalyst to connect the region and different communities. Through my effort, I hope to encourage the community to work together to develop reliable transportation for the region.