Meet Some of Our Awesome Volunteers!

Meet Some of Our Awesome Volunteers!

We sat down with some of our Startup Week volunteers to get their thoughts on the event, why it’s important, and why they are volunteering their time!

 


-Dejuan Vann-

What is your role with Detroit Startup Week? 

I’m the Neighborhood Organization Lead. I work passionately to involve neighborhoods in Detroit Startup Week (DSW). Also, I am a Volunteer Lead for Code Detroit where will introduce 5,000 Detroit high school students to coding! 

What is your background and how did it lead you to volunteer for Start-up week? 

I have over 5 years experience in civic engagement, community organizing, small business development and digital marketing. After a brief stint in the financial industry, I married my purpose and re-ignited my passion by launching my very own digital marketing firm named Finish Digital. My combined love of technology and community work led me to launch Finish Digital. These same reasons led me to volunteer for Detroit Startup Week. I love developing communities by connecting them to technology and entrepreneurship. 

What impact do you hope to make by being involved? 

I developed and live by the three Cs. My three Cs are collaboration, connectivity, and communication. These are my personal pillars that keep me focused and grounded. 

Collaboration: I want to make sure DSW collaborates more across Detroit neighborhoods to assure a positive impact for its resident

Connectivity: I am committed to connecting DSW to the Detroit community and connecting residents and businesses to resources. 

Communication: I strive to effectively communicate with residents and the DSW team to assure we are better serving Detroit communities. 

Why do you think that this event is important, particularly for Detroit? 

This event, like many others, is a part of the fabric that continues to build Detroit’s business and entrepreneurship ecosystem. We’ve come a very long way and it’s important to continue to build, connect Detroit residents to these opportunities, and develop the new generation of Detroit’s finest and best. DSW seeks to do just that! 

Give us one cool fact about you! 

I was a sports radio intern and I’m not the biggest sports fan. But it was a pretty cool experience! 

 


-Olivia Rae-

What is your role with Detroit Startup Week? 

I am the Programs Lead for Detroit Startup Week.

Why did you want to volunteer?

I really love the community that I have found and grown with here in Detroit. Having the opportunity to help others get involved, learn, build, and grow is such a gift. 

Why do you think that this event is important, particularly for Detroit?

In order to have transformative impact that scales, we need to come together as a community to learn together. A huge part of why I love Detroit is that you ask people what they do and what’s their hustle, and oftentimes those are completely separate things that together make them who they are. Coming together for a week to share that and grow that is how Detroit moves forward and builds. 

What impact do you hope to make by being involved?

I hope the impact that I have is making it easy for people to connect and get the information that they are seeking. It’s important that people feel included and in thinking about programming, how we write descriptions and where we place events is a huge part of that.

How has this experience changed your perspective on the importance of teamwork and the impact you can make?

Detroit Startup week is volunteer led and run and without this incredibly vibrant, active community, we wouldn’t be able to put this on. I’m constantly impressed with how many people are involved, how they are involved, and the overall commitment to growing our entrepreneurs. This is such a team effort and I am confident that no one person could have this impact alone. I feel blessed to be a part of it and am excited to see what comes from this incredible week.

 


-Leann Abad-

What is your role with Detroit Startup Week? 

I help out wherever is needed and wherever I see myself able to provide value. It’s what I call a “Flex Player” role. I’ve closed and won sponsorships, I produce the Startup Week podcast, I help with the Ann Arbor <> Detroit engagement team, and other things.

Why did you want to volunteer?

I’m a community builder, and Detroit Startup Week is a really dope community.

Why do you think that this event is important, particularly for Detroit?

I think we need a concentrated focus on how we can leverage the tech industry from a holistic perspective. Detroit is such a complex city with an equally complex variety of communities, that with the ever-so-present “disparity” between downtown/midtown and the neighborhoods, we need to actively pursue and create bonds between all of Detroit. Where we fall behind is when we focus on “either/or” rather than “and.” Meaning, we need platforms that put just as much focus into the blockchain community as it does the small business and retail community. Detroit Startup Week is one of those platforms.

What impact do you hope to make by being involved?

I hope to bring value to the business community of Detroit. 

How has this experience changed your perspective on the importance of teamwork and the impact you can make?

Teamwork really does make the dream work. Everyone brings something different to the table, and it really shines in certain situations. For example, when we put out an ask of the team and several people respond immediately with solutions, that’s magic.  

 

-Adam Zientarski-

What is your role with Detroit Startup Week? 

I’m a sponsorship co-lead!

Why did you want to volunteer?

I wanted to volunteer so I could finally give back to the city I’ve called home for 3 years and support fellow entrepreneurs.

Why do you think that this event is important, particularly for Detroit?

Detroit Startup week is an important event for Detroit because Detroit doesn’t have the established and industry diverse business community that other cities like New York, Chicago, etc. We need events like DSW to continue to attract talent to the city, encourage residents becoming entrepreneurs, and show the supportive community they will join once doing so.

What impact do you hope to make by being involved?

I’m hoping that I can raise a ton of money and gather enough resources to support plentiful and high quality programming and events during the week.

How has this experience changed your perspective on the importance of teamwork and the impact you can make?

The experience changed my perspective on how old and new Detroit can work together, and how the communities can find common ground on what’s important to the entire city.

 

 

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