Liliana Gonzalez, RA, LEED ND, joined Cinnaire in 2017 as part of the Detroit Revitalization Fellowship, a program of Wayne State University designed to attract and retain top level talent for Detroit organizations whose work has a focus on improving the City of Detroit.
Cinnaire was honored to be selected as a host employer for the Fellowship program after demonstrating that we place a high value on talent, see the possibilities in Detroit through both hyper-local and regional issues and encourage leadership development. Liliana is one of 19 fellows that were selected for the 2017-2019 program, from a national pool of more than 350 applicants.
One year into her Fellowship, Liliana takes a moment to share her experience and some of the lessons she’s learned in this month’s blog.
I joined Cinnaire in August 2017 as part of the Detroit Revitalization Fellowship (DRF). DRF is a two-year program through Wayne State University that aligns mid-career professionals with organizations in Detroit focused on community, civic and economic development. Besides working fulltime, the DRF fellows meet twice a month to discuss monthly topics such as land use, civic innovation, development, education and so on; all mainly centered around Detroit. Invited speakers (i.e, non-profits, residents, city officials) attend and engage in a Detroit Dialogue, diving deeper to the theme at hand. Since the beginning, I was excited to move to the city, to begin the fellowship and my work at Cinnaire. Over time, I have come to deeply value those sessions, particularly the Detroit Dialogues. I understand now that it is a rare opportunity to bring together sixteen plus individuals in our various roles, for a two-hour conversation with no set agenda besides listening and sometimes challenging our perspectives. Sometimes I come out of those sessions re-energized, excited to get to work Monday morning. Other times I come out with more questions and frustrated at the pace of change. But I always come out grateful to have been there.
My passion is design. Urban design to be specific. As an architect and urban designer, I have spent the better part of my professional life working in the private sector. I’ve learned a lot, interacted with different communities, and have been exposed to different tools to help address some of those community needs. Neighborhoods, like people, are composed of many intricate layers. It is important to spend time getting to know the neighborhood and its history to enhance projects in a way that is meaningful to the community. That is one of the reasons I have really enjoyed being part of the Cinnaire Solutions team. We partner with local community development corporations and business associations who bring the neighborhood knowledge and insight. We also partner with other CDFI’s and organizations. We all share a common goal of creating healthier neighborhoods, and each bring valuable skills in our pursuit of that goal. It’s truly a collaborative effort and I’m looking forward to continuing our work and partnerships in Detroit.
Liliana is a registered architect in the State of New York, with a Master in Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a Masters in Urban Design from the University of Michigan. She has nearly 9 years of professional experience in architecture and urban design, working on projects ranging from single family homes to neighborhood plans, higher education, historic preservation and mixed-use developments. Liliana spent a year in Barcelona, Spain, as a Fulbright Graduate conducting independent research on the gothic basilica Santa Maria del Mar.
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