It seems as if Desirae Tolbert has spent her life accumulating reasons why she would be perfect in her new position on GRDC’s Board of Directors. First off, she grew up two houses from GRDC’s current main office at 19800 Grand River. In high school, her first paid job was as the editor for North Rosedale Park’s neighborhood newsletter, The Tattler. Desirae studied Criminal Justice and African American Studies in undergrad at the University of Michigan. In grad school, she earned an MBA in non-profit leadership. Currently Desirae is the Director of State and Local Government Affairs at Quicken Loans and “makes sure everything is legal and thoughtful.”
When it came time for Desirae to find a home, she looked in Grandmont Rosedale. She was pregnant, and she knew that the neighborhood she grew up in was “a great place to grow up.” The closing date for her house was also the day she was due to deliver. She was on bed rest toward the end of her pregnancy, but did not want to change the closing date on the house, so she signed the papers in her hospital room. Two days later Desirae went from the hospital with her newborn baby boy right to her new home in Grandmont Rosedale.
CONNECTING WITH GRDC
Once she was settled in her new home, Desirae thought about becoming involved. “GRDC has always been familiar to me,” she says, and so she reached out to Executive Director Sherita Smith to connect. Once they started talking, they both realized just how many connections both inside and outside of Grandmont Rosedale they had in common.
Desirae’s “youthful energy with great intention” was apparent to the current GRDC board members who interviewed Desirae for the position. Desirae looks forward to “offering a different perspective – innovation, new thinking, and new angles” and is interested in taking a look at how the public spaces in Grandmont Rosedale are used as well as developing mentorship programs to keep the community engagement sustainable for her son’s generation and beyond. For example, Desirae calls the block captions, the “pillars of the community,” but the younger generation might not know “how or who to call in order to get things done. We need a sustainable plan for Grandmont Rosedale.”
LEARNING FROM SEASONED BOARD MEMBERS
As the middle child in a family of six kids, Desirae knows what it means to work together toward a common goal. She also knows to listen to the wisdom of those who have come before her. She attended her first board meeting “mostly as a sponge. There are seasoned people on the board who have a lot to share. I love to listen to them. I have a ton of ideas, but I have to learn more before I introduce change.”
GRDC is pleased to have Desirae join the board of directors. Desirae’s dedication to Grandmont Rosedale is lifelong and evident. She’s got some really great ideas about involving high school students and creating a parent exchange. For now, though, if you see Desirae around the neighborhood, introduce yourself, and welcome her back home.