CSO Welcomes New School Consultant
June 05, 2018
Danielle North joined the GVSU CSO in early May as the newest School Consultant. She will work primarily with GVSU-chartered schools around Metro Detroit.
Being born and raised in Detroit, Danielle has long had a passion for furthering her hometown through community-building opportunities that promote racial, gender and educational equity. After graduating from Central Michigan University, she immediately returned to Detroit and committed herself to helping others in the city.
Danielle was drawn closer to working in education in 2009 after participating on a school recreational project with the Chandler Park Coalition. At the time she was focused on broader community development, but this particular project combined her passions in a way that hadn’t been done before. She continued her career in education by serving as the Deputy Director for the Office of Charter Schools at Detroit Public Schools, where she was primarily responsible for day-to-day operations, budget management, internal and external communications, and strategic planning. In 2017, Danielle then joined Promise Schools as the Vice President of External Relations & Strategy, working to bring quality education to more urban children.
Danielle is also a driving force behind additional community development project that she is committed to outside of her daily work. Danielle is the co-founder of the Detroit Women’s Leadership Network, a group established in 2014 to advance the professional trajectory of women by inspiring inclusive opportunities for connection, collaboration, and progress. Today, the network has more than 5,700 members and partners with a wide variety of key organizations around the city. Additionally, she is the owner and founder of Kidz Kingdom, Detroit’s first indoor playground, which she opened in 2016. Finally, Danielle recently launched Biz Kidz, a 501c3 nonprofit created to help future entrepreneurs.
When she is not working, Danielle enjoys spending time with her high school sweetheart and husband of 11 years, Eugene North, and their children, Eugene Jr. and Preston.
We sat down with Danielle to learn a little more about her story:
In your bio, you said the Warren Conner Development Coalition played a big role in shaping your skills as a community leader. What specifically did you learn from the coalition that has directly impacted your work?
I learned to ensure that you must have the community’s buy-in for what project you are doing. I hate it when groups “helicopter” in to a community with a project without getting buy-in from the people that will be impacted. Remembering this really helps me when it’s time to make decisions.
What prompted you to start Kidz Kingdom?
My children were the inspiration. We didn’t have anything like that in Detroit, and, like every parent, I wanted my kids to have the best resources possible. I figured if everybody is operating with that mindset, and since my family is part of the same community, it would be a great thing to have.
Tell us a little more about the Detroit Women’s Leadership Network, which you co-founded
It empowers women in multiple ways. Women in the network can access people and information related to the field they want to work in. When women come together it’s innovative, but even deeper than that is a sisterhood that is developing. People are doing things for free for each other, making friends, and finding unity. The group is making sure that women have a strong voice in the right places.
You have an extensive amount of work with charter school management/oversight. Since you will be working primarily with school board members, what advice would you give board members?
Keep the focus on the children because [the board members’] role is at a high level. They look at governance, finances, compliance, and academics. They are dealing with adults, but they can’t lose sight of the children. Take time to go into the school during the day and see what is happening. You can’t just look at numbers, you need to be connected to the purpose.