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Detroit & The American City Symposium

June 11, 2024 — The Garden Theatre

9.a.m. to 3 p.m.

Join us at the Detroit & the American City Symposium to discuss the future we are building together in Detroit. Local and national experts will tell a story of Detroit as a place of deep history with immense possibilities. The Symposium will look to the past to inform a reimagination of our future. It will celebrate Detroit’s culture and acknowledge past harms. It will explore how we invest in access to opportunity for all Detroiters to build systems of resilience and health – collectively painting a picture of joy and healing for Detroit’s future.

Speakers will include:

  • The Hon. Garlin Gilchrist, Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, will discuss Detroit as a place of deep history, bringing immense possibilities.
  • Renowned playwright and actress Dominique Morriseau will share how our culture and heritage shape our future.
  • Angela Glover Blackwell will discuss how economic equity is the foundation for securing our children’s future.
  • Danielle Atkinson of Mothering Justice, Angie Reyes of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, and others will envision a future where all Detroiters have access to opportunity.
  • Tepfirah Rushdan, Detroit’s sustainability director, Donele Wilkins of the Green Door Initiative and others will envision a more resilient Detroit that centers climate and health in community development.
  • Filmmaker and producer dream hampton will paint a picture of Detroit’s future rooted in joy and healing.

If you have input, questions or concerns, we invite you to contact: Sommer Woods via at [email protected]

Schedule & Agenda

9 am to 3 pm

The Garden Theatre
3929 Woodward Ave,
Detroit, MI 48201

Please note that Detroit Public Television will broadcast this symposium. As a courtesy to attendees and online viewers, we will ask guests to silence their cell phones during all sessions.

OPENING | 9 AM - 9:50 AM

9:00 AM — Opening Performance

9:10-9:50 AM — Opening
Rip Rapson, President & CEO, The Kresge Foundation

9:25-9:50 AM — Fireside Chat: Detroit as a Place of Deep History and Immense Possibilities
The Hon. Garlin Gilchrist, Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
Wendy Lewis Jackson, Managing Director, Detroit Program, The Kresge Foundation

Regeneration: Repair & Restoration | 9:50 AM-10:50 AM

9:50 AM -10:00 AM — Short Talk: Understanding Our Culture to Reimagine Our Future
Dominique Morriseau, Renowned playwright and actress

10:00 AM -10:50 AM — Panel: Why Acknowledging Past Harms Paves the Way for the Future
Dr. Raquel Hatter, Managing Director, The Kresge Foundation (moderator)
Anika Goss, Executive Director, Detroit Future City
Andre Perry, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Alycia Meriweather, Deputy Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District
Donovan Duncan, Executive Vice President, Urban Strategies
Wendy Lewis Jackson, Manging Director, The Kresge Foundation


Abundance: Economic Equity | 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

11:00 AM – 11:10 PM: Short Talk: Economic Equity as the Foundation to Securing Our Future
Angela Glover Backwell, Founder in Residence, PolicyLink

11:10 AM-12:00 PM: Panel: Envisioning a Detroit Where All Detroiters Have Access to Opportunity
Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder in Residence, PolicyLink (Moderator)
Angie Reyes, Executive Director, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
Danielle Atkinson, Executive Director, Mothering Justice
Byna Elliott, Head of Advancing Black Pathways, JP Morgan Chase
Wafa Dinaro, Executive Director, New Economy Initiative


Resilience: Climate & Health | 1:30 PM-3:00 PM

1:30 PM – 2:20 PM: Panel: Reimagining a Resilient and Healthy Detroit
Alexa Bush, Program Officer, Detroit Program, The Kresge Foundation (Moderator)
Tepfirah Rushdan, Director, City of Detroit Office of Sustainability
Donele Wilkins, Founder & CEO, Green Door Initiative
Catherine Flowers, Founder, Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice
Omar Gates, Climatologist, University of Michigan

2:20 PM – 3:00 PM: Fireside Chat: Painting the Picture of Joy and Healing in Detroit
Orlando Bailey, Executive Director, Outlier Media (Moderator)
Hannah Beachler, Production designer
dream hampton, filmmaker and producer


Click on each speaker to read full bio.

Tepfirah Rushdan is guided by an equity lens and focuses her life work on community oriented solutions that are healthy for people and the planet. To this end she has played a leadership role in various non- profit and grassroots organizations including Greening of Detroit, Keep Growing Detroit, Black to the Land Coalition, Detroit People’s Food Coop and Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund. She has been board advisor to several community projects including RAHAM Detroit, Green Boots Veteran Gardens, and Feed’em Freedom.  In 2023, she was appointed as the first Director of Urban Agriculture for the city of Detroit and currently serves as Sustainability Director guiding the cities Sustainability Agenda and Climate Strategy.

Travel information

Hotel: Rooms are available at the Hotel David Whitney, Autograph Collection

One Park Avenue Detroit, Michigan 48226

Parking: Please park at the DSO Garage, 81 Parsons St.

(At Parsons and Cass or Parsons and Woodward.) Use code 0916 to enter.  An attendant will be on duty to assist.

On-site services

Luggage: There will be luggage storage available at the Garden Theatre. Shuttles will be available on a continuous schedule (every 20 mins) between the Aloft at the David Whitney Building and the Shinola Hotel and the Garden Theatre.

Nursing: There is a nursing room available.