Getting to know CEDAM’s AmeriCorps program manager, Andrea Villanueva

One of CEDAM’s newest team members is Andrea Villanueva, who joins us as an AmeriCorps program manager. We sat down with Andrea to learn more about her past experience and what’s she’s most excited about in this new role.

As CEDAM’s program manager, what are you looking forward to most?

I am really excited about working with the State and Vista crew for CEDAM. I know the AmeriCorps programs have been growing over the past couple of years. Being involved in that is exciting as well as getting to know the current crew and host sites and partnerships that come with that. 

Tell me about your experience with AmeriCorps programs and what draws you to AmeriCorps?

I served for two years way back in the day, about ten years ago. That introduced me to AmeriCorps – I was serving with mentoring programs and was working with teenagers in foster care. That’s another interest of mine, working with youth. That let me down the national service lane and I couldn’t stay away! I kept trickling in and out with alum pieces in the couple of years that I wasn’t involved. I then fell into a program director role at the Ingham County Health Department and I recently wrapped up seven years with the County! That’s about nine to 10 years of involvement in AmeriCorps in some capacity. 

I really like AmeriCorps because it gives individuals the opportunities that they don’t always know are available. It allows members and even organizations that host members windows to be creative, build new skill sets, realize skills they didn’t know they had, and allows for a ton of networking personally and professionally. I love seeing members grow in their role and become more confident or excited about something that went well. It can be frustrating getting involved in the nonprofit world and this really does help learn those soft skills, gives extra support to individuals, and challenges them to take steps that they wouldn’t have done in the past. It’s always exciting to look back on the year to see the growth that happened with members and the program. I think I was meant to be with national service and give back to communities! 

What excites you most about the community economic development field?

I don’t know too much about community economic development but am excited to get engrossed in the atmosphere. What I’m seeing is that there is a ton of overlap between the field and public health, which is where I recently came from. I was doing a lot of work in food systems and in conjunction to that, exploring how we make environments safe and healthy. One of the things that always came up was access to affordable housing and equitable housing practices. I’m excited to explore that more in the CED world and how CEDAM and its partners do work in that area. 

What was the last book you read? Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo 

If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go? Vietnam or Cambodia

What’s the next concert you would love to go to? Anything live would be amazing!

What’s a fun hobby you have? Foraging, making unique dishes and simple syrups; I’m starting to get into fermentation as well 

What are you watching on TV? I just finished season 5 of working moms on Netflix