Blog: Antonio Lück

Brazil native Antonio Lück, portfolio manager at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, has lived in the Detroit area for under four years, yet has built a chain of friendships and activities that many would take a lifetime to amass. This week he writes on how a collaboration between a Brazil university and WSU brought him to Detroit's shores, the seeding of the Detroit Young Professionals volunteer and leadership group, and entrepreneurial gusto in the city.

Post 2: In Walk Detroit Young Professionals

Detroit Young Professionals (DYP) began with a core group of nine folks. Initially the group was a loose structure.  Our idea was to work together first to assess everyone's skills and interests and understand how each person would like to be involved in the organization.

We decided that DYP should be a grass roots movement to engage young professionals in community service, build leadership, and partake in civic and social events. We organized a few events in each of those areas and were satisfied with the team we were building. It was time to start giving shape to the group and therefore we went on a professional retreat to discuss the legal structure we should adopt as well as to define the vision and mission for DYP.

We organized a weekend retreat and by the end of the brainstorming sessions, we determined the DYP structure. DYP has a board of directors with 5-7 members and seven committees including Leadership, Social, Civic, Finance, Special Projects, Marketing, and Membership.  The mission of the committees is to carry out the vision of being a regional nonprofit organization and to provide professional development, social networking, and civic engagement opportunities.

Also at the retreat we formed the mission of DYP - "Detroit Young Professionals are dedicated to making metro Detroit a better place and developing our region's next generation of leaders; bringing together diverse, forward-thinking individuals with a passion for cultivating creativity, entrepreneurship and a spirit of community in Metropolitan Detroit."

DYP is a volunteer-driven organization and we welcome persons of all ages and backgrounds to participate. Today DYP is a Michigan non-profit with over 15 volunteers working together to accomplish these goals and is in the process of becoming a 501(c)6.

Since DYP's genesis, I've had the pleasure of working with some amazing people who have made incredible contributions to the organization: Robin Dillard, Joe Shelton III, Charlene Minatee, Eddie Lee, and Phil Goldsmith. I thank them greatly for the opportunity.

Now, continuing the string of how I met people and how that evolved…

During my first semester (period of six months) in the US, I had the good fortune to meet Jeff Cahill.  We met at the cookie table after donating blood at one of Wayne State's blood drives. We had a good conversation and met many times thereafter. When DYP started recruiting new members I invited Jeff to join.  He jumped right in, initially taking over the leadership committee chairmanship. He then became the executive director in late 2009 (around 3½ years after we met). He recently gave up his position as the executive director to accompany his girlfriend to her new job as a university professor out of state. Jeff has made great contributions to the organization and will be missed.

One of DYP's first partnered events with Wayne State was a panel I moderated called Get in the Game.  It was a discussion on entrepreneurship and funding. Two of the people invited to speak were Phil Cooley from Slows BBQ, who's highly involved in grassroots movements in Detroit, and Jake Sigal from Myine Electronics, a.k.a. Livio Radio. Jake has become a good friend and we spent a lot of time this past summer conquering trails around Detroit on our mountain bikes.

Another eminent DYP event includes Become Your Catalyst for Change with Todd Hohauser, Therese Boldt, and Kay Douglas. We talked about developing yourself personally and how to grow into the career you want. On the same theme of entrepreneurship and starting your own business we produced another event called Entrepreneurs Expo with Kerry Doman, Matt Bower, Brent Yax and Brad Saarela.  We highlighted each person's perspective on why and how they started their businesses.

Detroit Young Professionals has volunteered for Focus Hope, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, and tree planting with the Greening of Detroit. We also hosted a Halloween party last year at the Detroit Yacht Club in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters.  We have hosted a few mixer events, attended gala events, and for the past two years we celebrated our Vanguard Awards. The Vanguard Award is one of our most prestigious events in which DYP awards individuals who have made significant contributions to our community.

Some of the organizations we have partnered with include Wayne State University, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The American Cancer Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Future Midwest.

Not only have I met many interesting people through DYP, DYP has also opened the door to other initiatives in Detroit like my good friend Erin Rose's Positive Detroit blog – tired of the negative news, she created this blog in February 2008, which has become a precursor in this current movement of showcasing the positive things others are saying about Detroit and what people are doing in our own backyards to create change. Recently my friend Steve Roginson, who I met through Kerry Doman from After5 Detroit, has spearheaded a movement called #MoveToDetroit to bring talent and people back to the city.

After living a year and a half in the suburbs, I plan on moving back to downtown Detroit early next year with my sister when she returns home from Brazil – and yep, I am starting to call Detroit home. I could go on and on with all the great initiatives and projects going on in Detroit, and I am always happy to talk about them. Feel free to contact me to chat.