Kenya Abbott Jr.
Community Schools Coordinator, United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Kenya Abbott Jr. is a native of Detroit, Michigan, one of the most politically-charged cities throughout racial history. Kenya has used her passion for community, youth and social justice to support work that targets minority communities to enhance their perspective and develop their narratives to be champions within their communities. She is a recent graduate of University of Detroit Mercy's Master of Community Development, with an emphasis on Human and Economic Development. Kenya attended Cass Technical High School, one of the leading high schools in the city of Detroit and Michigan State University, where she graduated in 2015 with two bachelor's degrees in Journalism and Sociology and a specialization in African American and African Studies. Kenya's expertise is in collaboration, and she uses this to connect the dots of structural racism, developing unique and innovative opportunities to capture Detroit voices across the lifespan, to better understand and solve issues that impact the spaces and places within their daily lives. Utilizing her in-depth research, she connects directly to the people. For two years, Kenya served as an Americorp VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America), giving a year of service to both United Way for Southeastern Michigan and Neighborhood Legal Services in assisting and building capacity within their education teams. In both VISTA terms, Kenya served as an advocate for youth in programming and support across Detroit Public Schools Community District. She currently works at United Way for Southeastern Michigan's College and Career pathways as a community schools' coordinator. She has grown to believe mostly in her ability to uniquely connect people for unified problem solving. Too often, problem solving across diverse perspectives is deemed as too challenging or even impossible and she is determined to reverse that mindset. She has led a life of not only finding her voice but encourages others to do the same.