Named to Forbes ‘30 under 30’ 2018 list for her profound work in education, Danielle D. Hughes has become one of Detroit’s most recognizable millennials for youth advocacy and empowerment. Pledging daily to be the person she says she needed when she was younger, the astute social entrepreneur, humanitarian and proud Detroit, MI native, makes it her mission to make an impact in the lives of her hometown youth. Currently, Hughes serves as the Dream Director to high school students as well as founding partner & COO of Detroit Speaks, Inc., a nonprofit organization providing teens with mentorship, coaching, leadership and personal development skills to achieve their dreams.
Having worn many hats along her journey, Danielle attributes each experience to the direct pathway which led her to her purpose. Danielle is intently transparent about her wins and losses, encouraging youth to remain resilient so they, too, may find their true purpose.
How Danielle Gives Back:
Detroit Speaks, Inc. -- Co-founder & COO
In her own words:
1. What’s your most important career accomplishment to-date?
Detroit Speaks' 'Dream Big' Scholarship is my most prized professional accomplishment. My nonprofit, Detroit Speaks was created to give young people in Detroit resources for achieving their dreams. This year, we were able to present our very first scholarship to a deserving student to assist her in her collegiate and entrepreneurial endeavors. Being able to pay it forward in that way was absolutely priceless.
2. How have you redefined leadership through your professional success?
I redefine leadership by showing my young people that they, too, can accomplish absolutely anything that they put their minds to. I strive to expose my students and mentees to as many golden opportunities as I can to ensure their future success. I try my very best to make sure that they see as many positive images of people who look like them. After all, a wise man once said; "you can't be what you don't see."
3. Why is civic engagement (volunteerism) important to you?
Every great movement and organization was built on the foundation of civic engagement. Not only does it build character, but it fosters relationships and creates conversation and action to promote real change.
4. How have you disrupted the idea of traditional leadership? How do you express leadership?
Growing up, I was constantly chastised for not following rules. I believe that specific trait has aided me in becoming the leader that I am today. Ultimately, leadership is whatever you define it to be. I express my leadership by pulling others as I climb. That's what it's all about.
5. What is a blue sky goal that you would like to accomplish in your career?
My plan is to open a community center in Detroit where young people can learn the basics of entrepreneurship, financial literacy and healthy living.
6. Why did you choose to pursue your passion/profession in Metro-Detroit? How do you intend to impact the region through your work?
My journey back home was extremely purposeful. I had no intentions moving back to Detroit after living in the South. After being let go from my position as a news anchor, (and applying to 72 jobs in Georgia) I decided to move back home with my parents without a job prospect in sight. Coming back to Detroit has been the BEST decision I could've ever made, and my gratitude for this city runs deeper by the hour. I intend to continue to impact the region by being intentionally curating emerging leaders within the city of Detroit.
7. What do you love most about owning your own business?
Having a front row seat in creating your legacy everyday.
Meet Danielle at the Vanguard Awards! Click HERE to join the celebration!