Community Development Practitioner Spotlight! See the career and education trajectory of Maria Salinas, Executive Director of Congress of Communities

I was born and raised in Southwest Detroit were I have been active in leadership and community development for over 38 yrs. My path to community organizing and servant leadership was probably ignited when I was 14yrs old and my brother (who was a regional captain for the brown berets in Detroit) in the 70’s took me to a protest in Saginaw Michigan where I met Cesar Chavez as he was leading a campaign/protest against the grape industry. I believe that’s where I began my calling. I struggled in school early on as I had to find my path - people who know me know I have always danced to my own beat. I did graduate from DPS by the skin of my teeth and I struggled, but went and got a Bachelors degree from Detroit College of Business, and a Masters in Organization and Community Leadership from Michigan State University. I have accomplished much training and have many certifications mainly addressing Environmental Issues, Leadership Development and Social Justice. I have publications in partnership with the U of M School of Public Health where I worked for over 18yrs. I am still very active with the SPH, mentoring students and supporting Internships. I just completed a 3 year Kellogg Foundation Fellowship addressing Racial Equity, Social Justice and Institutional Racism. Currently I am the Executive Director of Congress of Communities, a grass roots leadership development model which grew from The Good Neighborhoods Initiative (Skillman Foundation). I am more driven than ever to help make change in the city of Detroit and the State of Michigan.