One of our newest team members, Choiceé Ford, joins CEDAM as the communications specialist. We sat down with Choiceé to learn more about his past experiences and what he’s most excited about in this new role!
Can you give me a brief overview of your professional background?
My first job in the nonprofit sector was as a tax preparer for a VITA/TCE program when I was 18. I learned equally as much about outreach and community engagement as I did about finance and taxes. I had an internship and subsequently a full time position at the University of Michigan’s Detroit Center as the communications specialist while in undergrad. I learned all the base knowledge I would need to succeed in communications there, and I made a ton of meaningful connections within the nonprofit and academic communities as well. When I graduated, I worked as an administrative assistant for Wayne State University’s facilities planning department and learned alot about office management and event planning with the added vigor of being involved in planning for the entire campus. It was a time. From there, I worked as a retention specialist at Comcast. There I honed my skills as a strong communicator, and have built on those skills ever since. My last position was a communications specialist for a small nonprofit in Detroit spreading equity and access to underrepresented groups in Detroit.
How did these experiences lead you to CEDAM?
In a roundabout way, I feel like I’ve always been “nonprofit adjacent”. I spent a long time volunteering, protesting and organizing for issues in Detroit. My focus has always been on trying to move the needle and advance the lives and interests of my fellow Michiganders. It wasn’t until my last position that I realized that true change only comes through advocacy and policy change. Just throwing money at an issue doesn’t fix the systemic issues in place that caused and perpetuated the issue. CEDAM understands this and looks at issues through the lens of racial equity. Having an input and really feeling like I’d have a hand in creating change is what attracted me to the organization.
What are you looking forward to most as the communications specialist at CEDAM?
I’m really excited to begin implementing the communication plan and developing content related to diverse communities across the state.. CEDAM is looking to prioritize representation of under-resourced groups in community development and that’s truly the most fulfilling thing I can do with my time.
You’ve mentioned a strong interest in storytelling. Tell me why
My short answer is: The purpose of journalism is to provide people with the information needed to make the best possible decisions. Without knowing there’s a problem, those who are tasked with fixing them are mostly unaware the issues existed. But, we know that those closest to the issues tend to have the best solutions.There are so many issues that go unnoticed because everyone has a story to tell. Marginalized and underrepresented groups are just that: lacking the representation necessary to inform about and tackle issues plaguing their communities. There are far too many people just like me doing incredible things to improve their communities. If I can use my skills to give voices and megaphones to the voiceless, I think I did something good with my life. Writing is second nature to me, so it’s a labor of love.
What excites you most about community development?
The physical, tangible change that you can see happens right before your eyes. I’m more of an instant gratification type of person, so being able to see communities being built from the ground up literally is exciting, and knowing that I had a hand in the process keeps me daydreaming. Developing a community helps develop an improved quality of life for residents. Overall, that’s my biggest motivation.
Lighting Round Questions
What’s the last book you read?
I haven’t read a book for leisure since my first semester of undergrad. So the last book I can say I read just to read was “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
What are you currently watching?
I like a lot of crime shows. I’m waiting for the new season of Peaky Blinders and I just finished Top Boy. Other than that, the news is just as entertaining.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
I’m outdoorsy, so I’ve been visualizing my next travel destination being a cabin somewhere in the mountains of Colorado.
What was the last concert you attended?
- Cole’s The Off Season tour in 2021.
What hobbies keep you going or have you picked up any hobbies during the pandemic?
The pandemic made me want to start collecting vinyls and going to record stores more, other than that my hobbies have always been music or sports related. I like finding the original song to samples in music.