a program of Southwest Solutions
Hector Hernandez is the Executive Director of the Southwest Economic Solutions (SWES), and under his leadership, the ProsperUS Detroit program was successfully implemented after an inclusive design process with our partners. ProsperUS Detroit is a program of Southwest Economic Solutions whose services include a host of training programs, family support services, and community stabilization programs aimed at resident economic empowerment. SWES serves as a resource for program development, best practices, client engagement, and program delivery by integrating such programs as the Center for Working Families, GreenWorks Solutions, Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program, Adult Learning Lab, and Earn and Learn to name a few.
A barstool intellectual with a master’s degree in small talk, Matthew Bihun joined the ProsperUS Detroit Micro-Loan Program in the winter of 2013. Matthew’s first task was to create the model, infrastructure, and processes for a loan program, specifically designed to serve the capital needs of low-income, minority, and immigrant entrepreneurs. Since then, ProsperUS Detroit has loaned over $500,000 in micro-loans to 28 entrepreneurs. Matthew believes that developing honest and high-touch relationships with borrowers is critical to mitigating risk, creating personal and family wealth, and promoting profitable businesses.
Outside of ProsperUS, Matthew is a co-owner of UFO Factory in Corktown, an art and performance space that also serves as a bar and restaurant. Matthew enjoys purchasing and rehabbing turn of the century houses in Detroit’s historic neighborhoods, taking Chris Butterfield’s predictable curveball deep (playing baseball), and traveling. He is on a quest to visit all 59 National Parks in the next five years. His best pal is Miles, his dog.
During an internship at ProsperUS Detroit, Chris Butterfield created the Open for Business Map in addition to applying his graphic design skills for businesses being supported by the program. Today, he serves as Small Business Advisor, advocating on behalf of driven entrepreneurs by providing access to resources through the Business Services program.
Prior to his time at ProsperUS Detroit, Chris invested four years building Found Sound, a vibrant record store in the heart of Ferndale. He served his community at City Year Detroit (AmeriCorps) by tutoring and mentoring Detroit youth as well as leading large scale community beautification projects. His volunteer experience spans over a decade, including preservation advocacy, political campaigns, and several public art/music events, including an organizing role with Hamtramck Music Festival. Having curated over 120 live musical performances of various genres, Chris’s commitment to the arts continues with his label and production company, Tool & Die. Chris is a diehard Tigers fan and throws a mean curveball. He enjoys bike rides from his eastside home in Detroit to nearby Belle Isle, attending concerts, and cheap concessions at his favorite cinema, Redford Theatre.
Dedicated to helping Detroit’s neighborhoods thrive, Joanna Dueweke is the Program Manager for ProsperUS Detroit where she commits her energy to fostering relationships, empowering entrepreneurs, and supporting community development. Before coming to ProsperUS and while achieving her Master of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University, Joanna devoted her efforts to being an information advocate and community activist working on a neighborhood crowdfunding project, Detroit SOUP. When not working with entrepreneurs, Joanna is a Senior Associate Editor for The Awesome Mitten, an online publication dedicated to showcasing all that is awesome in Michigan, and serves on the team of The Tricycle Collective, a volunteer-run nonprofit helping Detroit families save their homes from tax foreclosure. In her free time, Joanna serves as a co-captain for her Detroit City Futbol League team, loves to collect too many books, travel whenever possible, and ride her bike all around the city.
A lifelong Detroiter and community supporter, Michelle Merritt joined ProsperUS Detroit as Program Coordinator during her entrepreneur training where she was working to re-launch her marketing communications business. Michelle has been a long-time community and local business supporter, working in various capacities, including program development, fundraising, outreach, and marketing communications with organizations such as Franklin-Wright Settlements, Optimists International, the Detroit Neurosurgical Foundation, the Women’s Health Initiative, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Orientation Institute, and the Detroit Department of Health Wellness Promotion.
Michelle began her undergraduate studies in Mass Communication at Rust College in Mississippi, where she performed with the world-renowned Rust College A ’Capella Choir. Returning to college as a non-traditional student years later, she received her BA from the University of Detroit Mercy, where she also completed the Leadership Development Institute. After graduation, she was accepted into the Media Psychology Ph.D. program at Fielding Graduate University, where she plans to return to complete her last year of study. While earning her Master of Integrated Marketing Communications at the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University, Michelle continued to work at creating her business, Nexus One Branding | Marketing | Communications. She enjoys assisting entrepreneurs with meeting their business goals through unique, relevant marketing communications strategies. When Michelle is not working, she likes spending time with family and engaging in arts and culture. She also enjoys world travel and hopes to soon return to Europe, visit Africa, and the Brazilian Rainforest.
Alejandra Romero is the Program Support Clerk for ProsperUS Detroit where she excels at data entry and streamlining various administrative procedures. In the community, she is a Southwest Detroit native and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. As such, she is the point person for Southwest Detroit engagement; bilingual in Spanish and currently working on her Arabic. She worked for Southwest Solutions in other capacities before joining the ProsperUS Detroit team in May of 2016. She completed her undergraduate studies in the field of anthropology as a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship. She is currently studying for her Master of Library and Information Science at the University of Arizona as a Gates Millennium Graduate Fellow.
Her studies in anthropology left her with the conviction that the preservation of the past enables one to understand present circumstance and lays the foundations for a more coherent future. This shapes her work with ProsperUS Detroit and the nonprofit sector because she has a special interest in the organization of information systems and feels it is essential to communication between people and programs within an agency. For her, efficient database management is a means to connecting the community to more accurate data which enables both the individual and agency to better tell their stories. Among other things, she likes to garden in her spare time.
For opportunities to work on the ProsperUS Detroit team, visit the Southwest Solutions website.
Para una descripción general de ProsperUS Detroit en español, visite la página.
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