Blog: Kat Owsley

Kathleen Owsley is the Director of One D, a collaborative initiative seeking to transform regional Detroit. She has been the VP of Market Development for the Detroit Regional Chamber, VP of Public/Private Partnerships for Issue Media Group and is a graduate of Kalamazoo College. Kat will be writing about One D, what it is and, more importantly, what it hopes to accomplish.

Post No. 3

I gave a presentation to the Birmingham Bloomfield Task Force on Race Relations this week (by the way, they are a great group). It is the largest task force of its kind in the region and a valuable asset to the race relations component of One D. It’s a group like this that can provide best practices and a structured forum for breaking down racial stereotypes.   

I was asked some tough questions by one of their members about whether One D is exclusive and whether we’re engaging others in the collaboration. These were good questions because I think this is where we get a lot of confusion as it relates to the purpose of One D. 

Inherently, the public is already engaged because it was the public who was polled initially and asked for more regional collaboration and a champion for their top five issues (economic prosperity, educational preparedness, quality of life, race relations and regional transit). Those involved in One D agreed to take responsibility to report on progress being made in these areas whether it is our work or someone else’s.  

And again, the public is inherently involved in that we will circle back periodically to ask "How are we doing as a region in these five areas?"

And to reinforce the point about exclusivity—One D founding organizations alone can’t possibly close the gap on these priorities even if we wanted to. In some cases we’re not the owners nor are we the experts. There are others that "do the work" –they will be the ones that push us forward in certain areas. 

For example, there is a lot of great buzz out there about transit projects, asset mapping of our greenways spaces and water board collaborations just to name a few. 

Brian Balasia of Digerati Solutions realized his vision this past week and by happy coincidence contributed to some of the goals of One D as well. Brian developed a concept to bring together smaller firms that are looking for talent (and thereby want to keep talent here) with students from the U of M Engineering School who are looking for an opportunity after school where they can do more than live in a "cube farm".  

This was a win-win-win idea. Small companies had access to an event that leveled the playing field between big and small company. No big, glitzy Boeing exhibit booth next to a small card table with a table cloth. Brian took a more egalitarian approach so small firms wouldn’t be dwarfed by the larger firms.   Students would get exposure to firms that would allow them a wider range of experience and thereby perhaps give them greater entrepreneurial preparation. 

Finally, the region wins if an event like this one –that I hope will be duplicated at other universities---helps move the needle on in-migration or higher retention rates of secondary degree holders. 

In a similar vein,  Darlene Trudell at the Engineering Society of Detroit is doing some amazing work that not only will help us keep some of our secondary degree holders here but will prepare kids in secondary school and earlier for science and science-oriented careers by pairing up the private sector and students. Again, not founders of One D but regional groups and people that will help our progress.  

So I throw the question back to the rest of you. What is your organization doing to close the gap in these areas? Are you doing work that will help the region improve in race relations? Grade level reading?  

One D founders and their boards of directors were never meant to be acting as an island doing work apart from the rest of the region. One D will strive to be inclusive as a movement and incorporate others into the vision for each of the priorities. 

We want to hear from you, so please contact us. What are you doing to get involved?